Binyamini is one of Israel's larger wineries and it is located in the town of the same name in the foothills of the Carmel Mountains.
The winery dates from 1952 and after being bought by a group of investors in 1992 has benefited from an influx of new ideas, modern technology,replanting of vineyards and introduction of new varieties such as Viognier, Zinfandel, Tempranillo and Pinotage.
This 2006 vintage is their very first varietal Pinotage, made from a vineyard planted in 2002. So it is a young wine in both senses; the grapes were harvested in August 06 and the wine had minimal French oak ageing, spending three months in second fill barrels used previously for Chardonnay.
On opening this wine, I was struck by its colour; bright purple with a bluish edge. It did look very young and my first impression was of red cherries in its colour and smell. On the palate there were ripe red cherry flavours, backed with some crisp fruit acids. This is an uncomplicated pleasant wine, in the easy drinking style of Beaujolais, without any detectable wooding. I will be interested to seeing what Binyamina will do in future with Pinotage as their vines get older, because this is a confident start with a variety many consider difficult . Retail price in Israel is NIS 38 (US$9.00 - £4.50)
Israel now has two wineries producing Pinotage, Binyamina and Barkan.
My good friend Daniel Rogov is the guru on Israeli wine, and his annual guide to its wine industry with detailed tasting notes of every Israeli wine is a must.
My thanks to Ilan Hasson of Binyamina Wines for sending me this sample, and to Rogov for background information.