A Taste of Carignan

carignan asting order

Tasting line up at Shulchan Restaurant, Tel Aviv

On a recent visit to Israel, I was invited by David Perlmutter to present a tasting on wines made from Carignan. This is a variety of which I am very fond, but, living in Provence means that, whereas 30 years ago I may have tasted a fair amount of this variety, today it here is rarely available. It is not popular, or is not successful, in rosé wine, now nearing 90% of Provençal wine production. In red wines, the once standard trio of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault is steadily becoming subservient to the stronger flavours of Mourvedre, Syrah and, to a lesser extent, Cabernet Sauvignon.

So I was very excited by the chance of tasting a few varietal Carignan wines. I was able to discuss the variety’s potential with local winemakers – Assaf Paz, Yotam Sharon, Kobi Arviv and Barak Dahan were all present to present their wines, as well as Adam Montefiore representing Carmel. Carignan is experiencing a small revival in Languedoc and Chile and now it looks like its reputation is growing in Israel.

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Galettes des Rois (king cakes) and the Nabatean Spice Route


In January 2014 I visited vineyards in the Negev desert and the archaeological remains of the ancient Nabatean kingdom. Splendid remains of buildings and extensive evidence of large scale agriculture, complex irrigation systems and large scale winemaking, indicate the richness of this area in ancient times.


Remains of the Nabatean city of Avdat, looking out over the Spice Trail across the Negev

The 1st century BCE historian Strabo described the Nabateans as being ‘temperate and industrious,’ although the king enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, dressed in purple (a luxury in those days), drinking wine in golden beakers and being entertained by dancing girls. Continue reading