Home > ModGood, Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > Two Alternative Wines from Whole Foods Market

Two Alternative Wines from Whole Foods Market

I recently stopped by the Whole Foods Market near my mother’s house to pick up a few appetizers.  With the wine section conveniently located near both the entrance and the fresh produce I decided to take a quick look.  We live in Montgomery County, Maryland where the Whole Foods Markets are not allowed to sell beer and wine.  So I always get pleasure from browsing the stores in DC and Virginia.  I promptly found the Alternative to Europe section where there was a selection of wines from the Golan Heights Winery, Israel and Teliani Valley, Georgia.  Having happily drunk the 2003 Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Syrah that Lou brought over last year I thought I would grab an entry-level wine the 2010 Golan, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Upon seeing the Georgian wines of Teliani Valley I was unable to recall the last time I tried a wine from Georgia.  With the choices being a white, dry red, and sweet red I grabbed a bottle of the dry red wine made from the Saperavi grape.  Both bottles were priced around $13 which is a great price for trying something new.  While my preferences tilt towards the Golan I would not hesitate to try the Teliani Valley if you are interested in Georgian wine or interesting grape varieties.

Yarden Vineyard, Image by israel21c_internal (flickr)

Israeli wine making has foundations in the late 19th century when returning Jews to the Holy Land began planting vineyards.  With a lack of success from the harsh conditions Baron Edmond de Rothschild gave tremendous funds for viticultural development in the agricultural programs.  With no surviving indigenous vines, vine cuttings from the Rhone and Southern France were brought over along with French experts.  The cuttings came from regions judged to have a similar climate.  The early vine growers and wine makers received up to date education and propagated such vines as Carignan, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, and Muscat of Alexandria.  The Carmel Winery was promptly established in 1882 and continues to operate today.  In 1983 the Golan Heights Winery was founded in the higher altitude, thus cooler, Golan Heights.  As wineries and vineyards expanded into the cooler regions of Israel they were planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, and Chardonnay.  The climate is hot, sunny, and dry requiring vineyards to be irrigated and vines trained such that the leaves provide shade for the fruit.  The chief winemaker at Golan Heights Winery is Victor Schoenfeld a graduate of UC Davis.  He employs the latest technologies and imports barrels, bottles, and corks.  There is also a micro-winery which is used for experimentation.

Vineyard at Teliani Valley, Image by Jake Marvin Miller (flickr)

Georgia has an ancient viticultural history dating back over 5,000 years.  Archaeological excavations have uncovered a rich assortment of artifacts throughout the country.  Viticulture was the prime agricultural practice which is evidenced by the more than 500 indigenous varieties, some of which still grow as wild vines throughout.  In the early 20th century the vineyards were destroyed by Phylloxera requiring vineyards to be replanted on resistant rootstock.  Today there are 2-3 dozen varieties approved for commercial use.  Teliani Valley is located in southeast Georgia in the viticultural zone of Kakheti.  This region experiences a moderate climate and produces the majority of the fruit used in making wine.  The winery was founded in 1997 on the location of the 19th century winery of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze.  With an influx of money in 2004 from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development they were able to build a new winery with updated equipment and to expand their vineyards.  The wine featured in this post is made from the indigenous Saperavi grape.  This grape is one of the few varieties where the pulp is red.

2010 Golan Heights Winery, Golan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee –
Imported by Yarden Inc.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vineyards located at 400 to 1,200 meters in elevation.  It was aged for six months in American oak barrels.  The nose reveals jammy black berries.  In the mouth the flavors are fruit driven, starting with a ripe and sweet nature before becoming a touch racy with some spice.  The flavors tightened up in the finish with blue and black fruits, a pebbly texture, and round personality.  Jenn found this international styled wine to be “very drinkable.”  ** Now-2014.

2008 Teliani Valley, Saperavi, Kakheti –
Imported by Georgian House of Greater Washington.  This wine is 100% Saperavi which was aged for three months in oak barrels.  In the mouth there were tart red citrus fruit and plenty of tannins in this lean bodied wine.  It is brighter in nature with plenty of acidity and chestnut flavors.  On the second night the flavors simplified and hardened so this is best on the first night.  ** Now-2015.

  1. mac
    April 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Nice post – and love the vineyard pics!

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