Great white hopes

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 6, 2009

The height of summer has to be the time for drinking the best white wines you can get you hands on.

Trying to find a fine white wine — one that would fit a formal and elegant setting — is much more difficult than finding a comparable red.

In the kosher market, where inferior whites abound, the search can be wearying. Part of the reason is that many of the better whites made in Israel are produced in relatively small quantities and are rarely exported to the UK.

The few really great Israeli whites that are sold in the UK are all Chardonnays and none of them come cheap. If you are fed up with too much Chardonnay, then at least I can assure you that these wines will not give you oppressive oakiness or a cloying buttery taste. These three premium Chardonnays are each representative of a different style of this grape.

Golan Heights’ prestigious Yarden “Katzrin” Chardonnay is the “creamy” type. With a dark and silky texture, it has honeyed aromas of fresh oak and pine, and flavours of vanilla, toffee, café au lait, honeydew melon and sweet spices.

Ella Valley’s Vineyard Choice Chardonnay is on the opposite end of the scale to the Katzrin — elegant, austere, almost flinty with a yeasty aroma and crisp citrus and kiwi flavours. These two wines should cost between £16 and £20.

Domain Du Castel’s “C” Chardonnay is even more expensive at around £26, but it somehow manages to combine both the creaminess and the flintiness in an intensely aromatic bouquet and layer upon layer of tastes.
These range from candied pineapple and orange peel, through cinnamon, cloves and milk chocolate, all the way to sweet cigar smoke.

Last updated: 5:22pm, August 6 2009