September 24, 2012
A review of the Binyamina Reserve Carignan 2010 and two Mortlach Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.
Israel’s Binyamina Winery began life in 1952, when Hungarian winemaker Joseph Zeltzer immigrated to Israel and established the Eliaz Winery, named for his son who perished in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The winery’s facilities actually began life as a perfume factory. In 1925 Baron Benjamin de Rothschild built the factory to take advantage of the abundant jasmine that grew in the area. The surrounding village was renamed Binyamina in the Baron’s honor. The enterprise did not prosper, however, and the factory was abandoned in 1937. The abandoned building soon became a “safe house” for the Haganah until independence. Zeltzer’s plans required the intervention of then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion who had a law passed that permitted the local farmers to sell him grapes rather than to the large Carmel Mizrachi winemaking cooperative. Subsequently Zeltzer released his liquors and brandies under the “Hard Nut” label to honor the PM who was known as a “hard nut to crack.”