Ella Valley Wines Have Just the Right Balance

by on December 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm

My friend Eran knows most of the geeks in Israel. As an Israeli who has been in the technology industry for well over twenty years, he is also tapped into the Isreali wine snob community. Thank God I have a friend down here who is. Who knew?

One of his wine ‘ins’ is his friend Doron Rav Hon, chief winemaker at Ella Valley in Netiv Ha’lamed He. He insisted we stop on the way to the Dead Sea. Okay, twist my arm hard will ya?

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They distribute to the states and according to his other wine at Ella Valley (the owner), its available in northern California. He’s going to shoot me an email with a list of who carries their latest and greatest. It’s worth knowing. Here’s why.

While some winemakers avoid aging the wine in oak altogether, others don’t want their wine to be compared to Napa wines. “So much of the wine is over-oaked,” they say. “It’s unbalanced.”

I’m one of those people who love a lot of oak. In my chardonnays, I tell them: give me butter, give me vanilla, give me the cream. This makes my serious ‘white wine’ friends mad. I think it Doron mad too but he bit his tongue when I told him his latest Chard had ‘butter’ in the nose and on the palette.

Yet, it did give me a little butter, because it was barrelled in oak for about 14 months. The warmer climate dictates some of this. Doron is right about balance however and its what makes his wines so wonderful. His wines are not over-oaked and they have an amazing balance that most other oaked chards lack, particularly in Napa and Sonoma.

His 2004 Cabernet had the same refined balance. The finish was suburb with or without food. At around $25-30 a bottle, it is a better choice for the price than most you can find in the same category in northern California.

The wine isn’t organic but it is kosher as was their extra virgin olive oil, which they also make on-site. Unlike 99% of the vineyards I’ve been to around the world, it was tucked away down a dirt road behind other things, like a cow farm and a bunch of tractors. The owner is also in love with toucan birds, who are in danger of becoming extinct, a tragedy if this is true.

I’ve seen them in the wild in exotic places around the world over the years, including Costa Rica, bird watcher’s heaven. These were red-billed which tend to be rarer. It appeared to be mating season. So, while he was chasing her around the cage edging her closer to the entrance of their little ‘cave,’ we sipped and talked while birds chirped in the background and the hazy sun beat on our faces.

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