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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘wine cellar’

Samaria Wines Receive International Acclaim in France Despite Boycotts

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

A French wine competition has awarded the Psagot Boutique Winery of Samaria gold stars for each of its eight wines that are a continuation of the Biblical tradition of wine production in Israel.

Established in 2003 by Yaakov and Naama Berg, the Psagot Boutique Winery is located in the Binyamin hills north of  Jerusalem ,which served as the cradle of wine-cultivation in Biblical times. The winery’s vineyards are planted on ancient limestone terraces at a height of 3,000 feet above sea level, alongside the community of Psagot, located south of Beit El and Ofra in Samaria.

Editorial note: A 2011 Washington Post article suggested that the labels on the Berg bottles say they are from Psagot, Israel, containing wine produced from vineyards planted on ancient limestone terraces in the “northern Jerusalem hills” and aged in French oak barrels stored in an ancient cave.

When asked, Berg “shrugged off suggestions that the labels mask the wine’s origin in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.”

“This is a geographical definition, not political,” he says of the reference to the Jerusalem hills. “When it comes to wine, the geographical area is critical, like Napa Valley” in California. As for the reference to Israel, Berg said that he is subject to Israeli law and that his winery is built on state land.

Energetic founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery Yaakov Berg.

Energetic founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery Yaakov Berg.

In keeping with ancient history of the location, the Psagot Winery ages its wines in an ancient underground cave that was used for wine-making in the Second Temple period. The cave was discovered in the process of establishing the winery in an area where remnants of ancient vineyards still exist.

The annual French wine competition is held by 1001degustations.com, a wine site that was created by French wine producers in order to promote international interest in wines and wine production.

The Psagot wines competed against scores of wines sent from wineries across the world including leading wine-producing countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, USA, South Africa and Argentina.

All eight of the Psagot wine entries placed in the competition, either in first, second or third place, a special feat for the Israeli boutique winery according to the founder and CEO, Yaakov Berg. “We sent all our wines to the competition and they all received awards,” Berg told Tazpit News Agency.

Psagot’s red wines, Prat and Shiraz, were awarded gold stars as well as the Judges’ Favorite Award. The grading is based on the criteria of color, aroma and taste and is decided by a jury composed of wine producers, sommeliers, oenologists, and restaurant owners. On the competition’s website, Psagot’s Prat wine was noted for its pleasant fragrance and fruity flavor, while the judges described the Shiraz as an elegant delight.

The Psagot Winery has won accolades in Panama, England and the United States among other countries. Because the competitions use blind tasting of wines to prevent bias, the Psagot wines have an equal opportunity to win like all the other wines. “Otherwise, politics would just get in the way and our wines would have no chance,” Berg told Tazpit.

The Psagot winery produced 200,000 wine bottles this year following a successful grape harvest in 2012. Most of the bottles have been exported abroad to various countries.

“This recent win is special because it shows the world what the land of Israel is made of. Two-thousand years ago, our people produced good wines in the same region, and now we are back home doing the same,” Berg said.

Archaeologists Find Largest, Oldest Near East Wine Cellar in Israel

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest — and largest — ancient wine cellar in the Near East, containing forty jars, each of which would have held fifty liters of strong, sweet wine, archaeologists from George Washington, Brandeis and Haifa universities announced late Friday,

The amount of wine estimated to have been stored in the cellar would fill approximately 3,000 modern bottles, and there probably are other wine cellars waiting to be unearthed.

The cellar was discovered in Tel Kabri, located near the northwestern coastal city of Nahariya and the site of a ruined palace of a sprawling Canaanite city in northern Israel and dating back to about 1,700 B.C.

The archaeological site is located near many of Israel’s modern-day wineries, such as Carmel Mizrachi in Zichron Yaakov, near Haifa.

“This is a hugely significant discovery — it’s a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in age and size,” said Eric Cline, chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of at The George Washington University.

He teamed up with excavation co-director Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, co-directed the excavation. Andrew Koh, assistant professor of classical studies at Brandeis University, was an associate director.

Koh, an archaeological scientist, analyzed the jar fragments using organic residue analysis. He found molecular traces of tartaric and syringic acid, both key components in wine, as well as compounds suggesting ingredients popular in ancient wine-making, including honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins. The recipe is similar to medicinal wines used in ancient Egypt for two thousand years.

Koh also analyzed the proportions of each diagnostic compound and discovered remarkable consistency between jars.

“This wasn’t moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements,” Koh noted. “This wine’s recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar.”

Yasur-Landau said, “The wine cellar was located near a hall where banquets took place, a place where the Kabri elite and possibly foreign guests consumed goat meat and wine.” The team discovered two doors leading out of the wine cellar—one to the south, and one to the west, and pending more digging in two years, it is assumed that  both doors probably lead to additional storage rooms.

A large part of the palace was destroyed approximately 3,600 years ago as a result of an earthquake or some other disaster, according to the archaeologists.

Dr. Koh told reporters that the presence of tartaric acid  means it was used for grape juice or wine, and several ingredients are the same as those found in winemaking recipes that previously have been found in ancient texts from ruins in what is now Syria,

Luscious grapes grown in Israel are recorded in the Biblical narrative of the “12 spies” who traveled from the Sinai Desert after the Exodus to the area of Hevron to report back to Moses what the People of Israel could expect when entering. The grapes and pomegranates that the spies brought back from the Hevron area supported the promise that Israel indeed is a land of “milk and honey,” but 10 of the spies also said that the local Canaanites were giants living in fortified cities. The report sent fear into the Children of Israel who rebelled against their mission, for they were punished to remain in the desert and die by the end of 40 years after leaving Egypt, except who were under the ago of 20 at the time of the Exodus and except for the two spies who tried to persuade the people that they could overcome Canaan with God’s help.

Fine wines have been become a booming industry in recent years, with the grapes of the southern Hevron Hills and the Golan Heights being used for dry wines considered some of the best in the world.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/archaeologists-find-largest-oldest-near-east-wine-cellar-in-israel/2013/11/24/

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