On the day before Shavuot, I visited Dalton winery in the Upper Galilee. The main reason for my visit was to taste the new white wines just out to accompany the festival of cheese.
They were fantastic, but then the winery’s manager, Moshe Haviv, pointed out that they were all of the 2008 vintage, the Shmita year, and therefore would not be exported for sale outside Israel. So I won’t tantalise you with my favourable impressions, seeing as those of you not planning to visit Israel will not get to taste them.
Luckily, I also got to taste three fantastic summer reds of earlier vintages that are all available in the UK, though for a pretty penny.
The Dalton Alma 2007 is an elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65 per cent), Merlot (22 per cent) and Cabernet Franc (13 per cent), with floral aromas and summery flavours of cinnamon, milk chocolate and blackberries. A lovely, well-rounded wine, though not cheap at £16 per bottle.
The Dalton Zinfandel 2006 is an absolute corker, with all the chewiness of cherries, plums and soft spiciness that you would expect to find in this grape.
It is probably one of the best kosher Zinfandels you will ever drink and certainly the best ever produced in Israel. Again, at £22 it does not come cheap, but to my mind is well worth the price.
But my favourite was the Dalton Reserve Shiraz 2007 (rounded out with five per cent Viognier), which was reminiscent of some of the best Shirazes you could expect to get from down under.
The wine is bursting with black fruits and oriental spices. Its long, lingering, smoky after-taste makes it well worth the £22 price tag for a special occasion.