Become a Wine Expert.
Despite Israel's constant political turmoil and poor image as a wine producer, it is starting to churn out some very good wine from two regions—Upper Galilee and the Judean Hills. The soil, altitude, and climate of these places create favorable grape growing conditions so winemakers have come to the area recently to craft high caliber wines.
A couple of leading Israeli wine producers include Domaine du Castel and the Golan Heights Winery. The former produces wines under the name Castel-Grand Vin, and the latter makes wines under the Yarden, Gamla, and Golan labels. Quality Israeli wines are a new phenomenon. Domaine du Castel's first crush took place in 1992, and the Golan Heights Winery launched its first wines in 1984.
Château Musar is the most famous wine of Lebanon. Located just fifteen miles from Beirut, political unrest creates winemaking challenges not all winemakers are forced to face (such as bombings), and yet Musar continues to produce reasonably good wine under the Château's own name.
Cyprus made wine six thousand years ago and was the first Mediterranean country to do so.
Although Greece makes wine from such international varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Viognier, it's worth looking for bottles that include the local variety, Assyrtiko. This is a white grape of lemony freshness and a mineral finish. The stony nuance is most pronounced when it's grown on the volcanic soil of Santorini.
Sigalas Paris is the leading winemaker on the island of Santorini, producing a range of very interesting, rather exciting wines from organically grown grapes. His white wines made from 100 percent Assyrtiko come in oaked and unoaked styles. The wines of Sigalas Paris have a good balance of extract and tartness, with flavors and aromas of mixed citrus zest and the characteristic earth and mineral flavors derived from Santorini's soil. The oaked versions show well-integrated complexity from the wood.
Greek wine is not—and likely will never be—inexpensive. This is simply because producers are small and economies of scale dictate that production costs remain relatively high.
If you see a bottle of Greek wine called Retsina, bear in mind it is flavored with pine-resin and is usually a bit of an acquired taste.
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