Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wine Review: Cremisan "Star of Bethlehem" Baladi 2011

Cremisan Baladi 2011

Cremisan Wine Estate is named after the hill that it was built on in 1885 in a place with a very long history of viticulture and winemaking. But it isn't somewhere you would think of as "wine country". Cremisan is in Palestine's West Bank and just northwest of Bethlehem. The Salesians of Don Bosco, a Roman Catholic congregation, has managed the winery since 1891. So what we have here is a Catholic wine from a Muslim state in a Jewish country, being reviewed by an atheist. Isn't that beautiful?

Cremisan's winemaker is Italian oenologist Riccardo Cotarella. The winery is part of the VIS (International Voluntary Group of Development), whose goal is to provide educational programs for troubled and homeless youth to help them obtain a craft and profession. VIS is mostly in Italy and "the southern hemisphere" but they've been involved with Palestine for over 20 years. They invest in Cremisan, and the profits for the wine go to supporting a school run by the Salesians.

All of the wine is organic and from the native grapes of the region. The winemaking is done in the convent under careful watch and direction of the Salesian Brothers. I'm be reviewing three of them: Hamdani Jandali 2012Dabouki 2012 and Baladi 2011. The wine was provided by Terra Sancta Trading Company of Florida. They import beer, wine and spirits from the Holy Land "and beyond".

Baladi is another name for the Cayetana grape from Spain, but that grape is white while this wine is red! Well, Baladi is Arabic for "local" and it appears that this is a blend of the indigenous red grapes to the Holy Land. It did see oak aging but I can't tell you how long.

Speaking of holy... holy crap this wine is dark! Putting it right up to the light it's a deep ruby red but it also looks a little hazy, so maybe it's unfiltered?

Right up front it has intense aromas of smashed raspberries and Jolly Ranchers. It's pretty clear that this isn't going to be the big, brutish wine that it tries to come off as with its appearance. Behind the fruit there's the aromas of moss and the prepackaged kindling you see for sale at stores.

Mad Strawberry
The body feels light on the midpalate with high acidity. Strawberry is all over the palate like you owe it some money, and his buddies raspberry and blackberry are off to the side giving you the evil eye.

It's just a fruit missile exploding all over you in a glorious display of fruitiness. Then it finishes with strawberry... and a surprise tannin assault just to keep you on your toes.

This wine is so juicy and fun that I encourage anybody who's a fan of Beaujolais-Villages and warm-climate Grenache to pick this up if you see it. The only problem with that is right now it's only imported into Florida and a lucky guy like me up here in Massachusetts only got my filthy hands on it because I have a wine blog.

But if you happen to come across this wine I'd give this puppy a slight chill and knock it back with cheeseburgers or some Mac 'n Cheese and just be loving life while catching a buzz.

For an open comment to Cremisan themselves, I've got to say this: Keep up the good work. You guys done good. Three wines and three winners. Thumbs up.

Price: $20
Rating: 4/5 = Recommended. (what does that mean?)

The bottle used was supplied free of charge for the purpose of this unpaid review. To have your wine reviewed follow this link.


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