Israel is a country that’s lesser known for wine, but is one I believe you should take interest in. Recanati Winery was founded in 2000 by Lenny Recanati and a group of wine lovers who set a goal to create a new winery for the production of quality Israeli wines at reasonable consumer prices. Lenny explains, “Judge by the wine, not by the Kosher status or origin”.
The most important requirement in the production of Recanati’s wines is the quality of the grapes. Dr. Pini Sarig: an international vine growing expert, was instrumental in assisting the winery with locating the best vineyards as well as plots of land with vine-growing potential. Here in the potential areas, new vineyards were planted. Most of the vineyards are in the Manara and Kerem Ben-Zimra regions in the Upper Galilee. This is a high region with an ideal climate for the cultivation of quality wine grapes. Additional growing areas are the Ella Valley and the Lower Galilee, which have a warmer climate that is great for producing the different grape varieties.
Most of the red wines are made from the noble Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties. However, the winery is known for also introducing some Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Syrah, as well as Barbera, Zinfandel and Petite Syrah. The white wines are produced with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, French Colombard and Emerald Riesling.
I recently had lunch with Lenny and Gil at The Kingsley in the East Village, NYC where we tasted through a wonderful selection of these wines. We started off with a refreshing glass of the 2014 sauvignon blanc, which is hand harvested, aromatic, and vibrant. Fruit forward and delightful, this wine at $14.99 is perfect for spring and summer sipping.
As we approached the table, greeting us were 6 glasses of some fine Recanati wines. Fluke Crudo with Apple, Squash, Creme Fraîche, and Pumpkin Seed Oil arrived to the table and was paired with the 2012 Recanati Special Reserve White. Bursts of fresh fruit, and perfume notes from the 60% Roussanne in this wine paired beautifully with the first course. The 40% Marsanne adds the noticeable body and fat, with nice texture from the wine, which sat on the lees for 6 months.
The chef here really made these food and wine pairings pop. The second course of Celeriac Agnolotti: Seared Foie Gras, Sunflower, and Mesquite Cake was out of this world, yum! Paired with this savory dish was the 2013 Petit Syrah Reserve and the 2012 Reserve Syrah Viognier. I love petit syrah, and this 2013 kept it’s acid, fruit forwardness, and earth flavors, which intertwined deliciously with the mesquite cake. The syrah-viognier reminded me very much of the Rhone Valley, given that the wine is 97% syrah and only 3% viognier. Floral notes and balanced tannins are what makes this wine shine with the foie gras, as it washes away the fattiness, making you crave another bite or sip.
Up next: a 2013 Reserve Marselan and a 2013 Reserve Wild Carignan paired with Gloucester Spot Pork with Red Cabbage, Apples, Baking Spices, and Mustard Spaetzle. I instantly fell in love with the flavor combinations and these red wines! The mustard spaetzle had a bite that paired perfectly with the carignan, while the pork and baking spices were warm, comforting, and winter driven.
Shortly after Waguy Basses-Côtes arrived at the table and paired with this delicious dish was the 2012 Recanati Special Reserve. This wine is 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 25% Marselan, and 15% Carignan; a beautiful blend with this course. The meat was perfectly cooked, dusted with Nori, and accompanied by Smoked Whipped Potatoes and Forbidden Fried Rice. This wine blend changes annually between Bordeaux and Mediterranean varietals and is matured in 100% new fine-grained French oak barrels for 18 months and then another 10 months in bottle prior to release. I really enjoyed this wine as well, especially with red meat and the smoked potatoes!
For those seeking to try some new wines this year, I highly recommend Recanati: an artisan winery. Reasonably priced and quality driven, these wines are wonderful all year round.