Israel's wine on the rise

An area with much promise and home to many new, even experimental, wineries. Cool temperatures in the high hills overlooking Jerusalem, along with steeply sloped vineyards, beckon.

2010 Domaine du Castel Blanc "C" Jerusalem Hills: All chardonnay, in the open-knit, juicy California style. $43

2011 Flam Red Blend "Classico" Judean Hills: Roughly half each cabernet and merlot and a terrific red, equal to a well-made Medoc for its rich fruit, brooding character and soft touch. $28-$34

2010 Psagot Red Blend "Edom" Jerusalem Hills: Three-quarters cabernet, the rest merlot; round and fleshy and substantial; nice clipping acidity and plush tannin. $27-$37

2011 Recanati Wild Carignan Reserve Judean Hills: Just as hefty, weighty, rich, juicy, packed with flavor and aroma, generously tannic and delicious as the same grape from ancient vines in the Languedoc; first-rate and excellent work. $48

Negev, Hanegev

A true desert and an ancient vineyard region; semi-arid, but with large diurnal day-to-night temperature swings that are good for wine grape growing. Cutting-edge technology assists in irrigation.

2009 Kadesh Barnea Red Blend "Red Desert" Negev: How something can be this fresh and lively when its cabernet and merlot grapes ripened in a solar oven is quite the feat; all blueberries and cherries for flavor and aroma; just full of energy. $30

If your wine store does not carry these wines, ask for one similar in style and price.

Bill St John has been writing and teaching about wine for more than 40 years.