Israel: Grape varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Most of the best red wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz/ Syrah. There are some interesting varietal Cabernet Francs and characterful old-vine Carignans and Petite Sirahs. Carignan is the variety that has spanned the modern wine history of Israel, having been planted even before Rothschild involvement. Unique to Israel is argaman, a local cross designed for inexpensive blends.

Among the whites, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are supplemented by Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Viognier. The davis creation emerald riesling has enjoyed more commercial success in Israel than elsewhere. The only winery still using local varieties such as Hamdani, Jandali, and Dabouki is that in the Cremisan Monastery between the West Bank and Jerusalem, and researchers are busy comparing their DNA with that of better-known international varieties, and with ancient grape seeds found by archaeologists (see palaeoethnobotany).