Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wine Review: Cremisan "Star of Bethlehem" Hamdani Jandali 2012

Cremisan Hamdani Jandali 2012

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".

This is a white wine and it's a blend of the indigenous grapes Hamdani (AKA Marawi) and Jandali. It's fermented in stainless steel and sees no oak aging.

Swag necklace
The color of the wine is straight-up bling-gold. And now I have dumbass Drake stuck in my head. "Just as a reminder to myself, I wear every single chain even when I'm in the house." Why are such bad songs by bad artists so goddamn awesome sometimes?

The first thing I thought of on the nose was Bordeaux Blanc. Lanolin, apple and minerals. Hang out with it a bit longer and there's peaches, lemon thyme and the slightest, faintest aroma of saffron.

There's a hefty body weight to this wine that I wasn't expecting for some reason, and the mouthfeel is super smooth. The famous combo of lemon-lime is the driving force of the flavors in the mouth but apricot and honey are also there. Because of how well rounded it is that citrus isn't tart and it's not TOO citrusy, and there's this special something-something to it that reminds me of a Rhone Blanc as opposed to the Bordeaux Blanc from the nose. Gotta be that apricot and honey.

This took me completely by surprise. I was expecting something good or just above average. What I ended up doing was saying "Holy $#!+ they nailed it!"

So originally when this review came out I gave this wine a 5/5 for Highly Recommended because I thought it was $16, but I've since been informed that it goes for about $20. That's kind of a different story and I've got to tax it half a point to 4.5/5 to land between Recommended and Highly Recommended. For $16 it was a steal and I'd drink that stuff up all day any day, and for $20 you should definitely buy it if you're lucky enough to see it on the shelves.

Price: $16
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly 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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