A Wine Lover’s Near Weekly Guide To $15 Wines – A Classic Chardonnay From Israel

The Barkan winery traces its history back to 1899. It is now Israel’s second largest winery and owns the country’s largest vineyard. They produce four lines of wine; today’s offering is next to the bottom. They are developing a sizable vineyard in the Negev Desert. And the wine business being like so many others, the main ownership is now in the hands of a soft drink company. The companion wine is an Italian Chardonnay coming in at half the price.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review were purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Barkan Classic Chardonnay 2006 (not a typo) 12.5 % alcohol about $15.

In the absence of marketing materials we can start by quoting the back label “Barkan Classic Chardonnay is produced from grape’s grown at the winery’s vineyards in the center of Israel. The vines yield small crops and ripen early. Hand picked in small containers, the grapes are rushed to the winery to ensure maximum quality. The wine ferments slowly at cool temperatures and yields a wine with a rich nose of blueberries, guava and pears. It is well structured, balanced and lingers in the mouth. Ideal with poultry and hard cheese.” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine was smoky and almost chewy offering light acidity. The initial meal focused on a barbecued chicken breast with a paprika dusted skin on which I squeezed a generous amount of fresh lime. The Chardonnay responded with heightened smokiness and good acidity. It was round. Steamed quinoa gave me a tinge of citrus in the smoke. A barbecued chicken wing augmented Chardy’s acidity and sweetness while its smokiness remained. The side dish of steamed broccoli made the libation’s acidity dominant, and in fact threw it slightly out of whack.

The second meal centered on poached eggs that were accompanied by tomatoes, garlic, ginger, basil, parsley, and onions. In response our Israeli friend intensified the ginger. The mixed salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and red onions perked up with fresh lime gave Whitey the taste of caramel. The liquid was smoky and it had good length. Fresh cantaloupe rendered the contents of my glass sour acidity and that was that.

The final meal began with Wasabi-less, virtually tasteless, Japanese rice crackers. Now our Chardonnay was strong for a while with caramel. It was somewhat sweet. When paired with store bought boxed potato and onion (if the box hadn’t told me I might have never known) perogis this juice was long with a burnt taste. The side dish of green beans and onions in a tomato sauce thinned my drink but smoke and a burnt taste were present. Fresh strawberries rendered this Cesari very long with the taste of caramel.

Final verdict. Because I had to pay $15 I have absolutely no intention of buying this wine again. However, at the Internet price of $10 it is definitely a repeat candidate, especially for people like me who prefer their Chardonnay not oaked to death.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his Italian wine website www.theitalianwineconnection.com .

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