2010 Dalton Alma White Blend and Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken
This past week I was waffling on which white wine to open to pair with my wife’s awesome lemon and rosemary roasted chicken, which has become comfort and easy to make food for the both of us. I do go through my own mood swings in relationship to chicken and poultry, but this week I was on and truly enjoyed it as always. Along with the chicken we also enjoyed some fresh green salad and a blend of brown/red/black rice. Given the menu I wanted a solid white wine that could keep up with the chicken and rice. I was looking at opening the Dalton Viognier or the Dalton Alma, and since I had more of the Alma I opened one for the weekend.
The Haruni Family started the Dalton Winery in 1995, in the Napa Valley of Israel in the Upper Galilee. Within the massive Upper Galilee, a few areas are starting to gather fame, such as the vineyard from which Dalton sources its grapes — Kerem Ben Zimra, Yarden’s El-Rom, Ortal, and Katzrin vineyards, and Gailil Winery’s Yiron vineyard. The vineyard and winery are located minutes from each other, which is usually a great benefit to the winemaker and winery, as the winery can truly source and crush the grapes when they have reached optimal maturity. However, when there is a war going on, and that war is in your backyard, you wish you were miles away. In July and August of the year 2006, Lebanon and Israel were engaged in a bloody battle. It raged on for 34 days, before a cease fire was declared. With the winery and vineyard overlooking Mount Hermon, almost spitting distance from the Lebanese border, the winery was in the direct line of fire.
Dalton was the hardest hit amongst the Galilee wineries, but was still able to source and crush all of its grapes within a week of the cease fire. The actual damage was not nearly as bad as the winery’s inability to prune and manage its vineyard, which caused some of the vineyards (the Chardonnay especially) to fall victim to disease and hungry wildlife. However, the winery was blessed with a bountiful harvest that easily made up for the war’s collateral damage.
The Dalton Winery, near Kerem Ben Zimra, is set in the beautiful green, mountainous country of the Upper Galilee, five kilometers from the Lebanese border, overlooking Mount Hermon. Dalton is the only winery situated in this area, and can boast that it is one of the few wineries in Israel that is estate bottled, located minutes from all its vineyards. Established in 1995, Dalton is one of the few family owned wineries in Israel. The Haruni family moved from London to Israel with the vision of developing industry in the long neglected area of the Upper Galilee. Dalton started with humble beginnings in a back yard in Moshav Kerem Ben Zimra, producing 20,000 bottles of white wine. Today Dalton produces close to 600,000 bottles, of premium and super-premium reds and whites, in its state-of-the-art facility.
Starting in 2007, Dalton made Wild Yeast Viognier that was to die for. They followed it up with a vintage in 2008 and 2009. Unfortunately, they decided to stop making this fantastic wine and instead decided to blend it into the Alma Blend. I cannot honestly tell you why they are doing this. Every wine lover that I talk with speaks highly of the earlier Viognier wines. Still, Dalton decided to blend the very Viognier, still made with wild yeast, along with some Chardonnay and attempt to make a better wine. In my humble opinion, they have moved backwards. This wine was nice and clearly has yet to find its true self, but it is in no way a wine that I would score in the same league.
I hope that the Viognier comes back and that they find something to do with the Chardonnay they blend in. Until then, try a bottle of Alma and tell me what you think.
The wine note follows below:
2010 Dalton Alma White Blend – Score: B+
The nose and mouth of this wine act in equal proportions to its blend. The wine is a blend of 66% Viognier and 34% Chardonnay. The wine is a real shame, personally, because it does not come close to being the hit that the pure Viognier was, and Dalton has said that they will continue with this Alma blend, and will not continue producing the pure Viognier. The wine starts off with clear Chardonnay styling, pear, oak, cut grass, and green apple. The mouth is firm and not so round with lemon, some tropical fruit, and oak, all coming together ok. The finish is long with lemon zest, cloves, and spice. Over time the wine’s real winner comes out of hiding and does what it can to help this wine. The Viognier’s obvious stamp is made with lovely floral notes, honey, butterscotch, and lychee. The mouth finally fills out and adds in peach. The finish is lovely but not complex with hints of fig and date. This wine has so much more potential separate than combines, unfortunately this is not an example of the saying: ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. In this case the whole is a less than the sum of its parts.