Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Yarden Mount Hermon Red 2010, Israel

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COST: $11-$13

WHAT: Wine is produced nearly everywhere on earth, so there is no reason to get stuck in the rut of the old, familiar producers every time you open a bottle. I like to find wines I haven’t had before, and this was a very nice find.

Yarden Mount Hermon Red is produced by the Golan Heights Winery in the Golan Heights region of Israel. It’s a beautiful blend of traditional Bordeaux grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

The pleasant, robust aroma opens up to a smooth, silky wine, full of fruit flavors with mild tannins. There are tastes of cherry and raspberry with a hint of spice. It’s not an overpowering wine. It’s a straight-forward, well-made wine that is perfect for sipping alone or with any number of simple meals.

The winery says it can be cellared for about three years, but I would drink it young to enjoy the lively, fresh flavors.

The wine is Kosher, so it is suitable for a Passover meal. I would serve it slightly chilled.

WINERY: Founded in 1983, the Golan Heights Winery is based in the small town of Katzrin. It is owned by eight Israeli settlements and overseen by chief winemaker Victor Schoenfeld. The winery is known for its use of technology and practices designed to realize the full potential of the region.

The winery produces many premium varietals, proprietary blends and traditional-method sparkling wines, marketed under the labels Yarden, Gamla and Golan.

The weather in the Golan Heights is ideal for growing wine grapes because of warm, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. The area is at the same latitude as San Diego, which should give the grapes a Mediterranean climate. But because many of the vineyards are planted at a high altitude, some of them are comparable to places found farther north, such as Bordeaux, France.

Five subtypes of volcanic soil as well as vineyards at elevations ranging from 1,300 feet to 3,900 feet allow for a range of quality winemaking styles. The vineyards rise from near the Sea of Galilee to the foot of the snow-capped Mount Hermon.

The winery is recognized as Israel’s first world-class wine producer. It was the first Israeli winery to win a major award in an international competition (1987) and it placed a wine on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list in 2008.

GOES WITH: Though the pairing wasn’t recommended by the winery, I served the wine with grilled pork chops. There’s something about serving Kosher wine with pork chops that appealed to me.

It was a great pairing, with the barbecue sauce and juicy pork nicely balancing the fresh fruit of the wine. Teri and I also had some fresh pineapple that tasted even better after a sip of the wine.

The wine also would taste great with hamburgers, pizza or buffalo wings.

WINE EVENTS

MARCH 8
Wine and tapas tasting,
5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

MARCH 9
Wine and beer tasting,
4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

MARCH 10
Wine and beer tasting,
1-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

MARCH 11
Wine dinner,
5:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; features a dinner honoring the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic by re-creating the first- class menu on the ship (706) 722-4805

MARCH 13
Wine tasting with tapas,
time TBA, Bistro 491, 491 Highland Ave. in Surrey Center; with Nick Goldschmidt and Goldshmidt Vineyards wine; $50; reservations, (706) 724-1442

MARCH 14
Educational wine tasting,
6 p.m., Bee’s Knees, 211 10th St., $15 for food and wine; reservations, (706) 724-1442

MARCH 15
Wine tasting,
5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines, three reds, plus cheese; $5, with $3 rebate on purchase of one bottle of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522

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