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You’ve Got To Know The Terroir-tory

3/21/2018 11:21:11 AM     Israeli Wine     By Joshua London     Comments

The basic story of Israeli wine is well known among kosher wine drinkers: The land of Israel was the cradle of the world’s wine industry in ancient times, until events overtook it, and then the production ended. The sands of time swept through, and the desert encroached and overwhelmed as foreign rulers came and went

Fast-forward to the modern era when everything changed.

As Adam Montefiore, then with Carmel Winery and now an Israeli wine writer and consultant, once summed it up to me years ago: “Jews came to this land, made the desert bloom, started planting vineyards, making wine and in doing so began reclaiming their heritage and reviving this ancient wine-producing region.”

In short order, Israel developed a fully modern, internationally acclaimed wine industry. There were only 10 wineries in Israel in 1990, but today there are over 300. Today, Israel produces 40 to 50 million bottles annually (second in the region only to Turkey, which produces 70 million).

Every critical success for Israeli wine is celebrated and promoted among diaspora Jewish communities around the world. But what, exactly, is so special about making wine in Israel? Is it merely a Zionist ethos or related tribal solidarity that attracts kosher consumer devotion? Or does Israel offer something unique to the world of wine?

In search of answers, and a possibly deeper understanding of Israeli wines and the region’s terroir, The Jewish Week approached a few Israeli winemakers to hear their perspectives.

“Look to the historic roots,” suggested Israel Flam, patriarch of the Flam Winery. “Why was Israel the heart of the ancient wine trade?”

Amazing grapes: The production process in full swing at Jezreel Valley Winery. Photos courtesy of Jezreel Valley Winery

A legendary figure in the Israeli wine industry, the University of California Davis-trained Flam began as chief winemaker for Carmel in the early 1970s and is widely credited as a pioneer of Israel’s modern winemaking. Geography is all important to how wine will taste, he explains, though elevation, latitude, proximity to the coast and the aspect of the vineyard’s slope will go a long way towards determining style.

“Look to the area where Flam [winery] is now,” he says, “in the heart of the Judean Hills; look and you will find, from 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, signs of hundreds, if not thousands, of places where grapes were being processed and wines were being made. This is where it all began.”

The Judean Hills region, explains Flam, lies between the Mediterranean Sea and Jerusalem; a mere 25-30 miles away, the sea blows winds that help ventilate the vines. “We are a fortunate place,” he notes, “because our climate is very easy.” This rugged Judean Hills landscape “enjoys relatively hot, dry summers and mild, cool, wet winters” — a natural Mediterranean climate, in fact.

Elevations run between 1,300-2,600 feet, with even higher mountains rising behind the hills. The area is endowed with a thin topsoil of terra rossa atop limestone bedrock that is conducive to quality wines. This is why wine flourished there in ancient times, Flam suggests, and why Israeli viticulturalists and winemakers have been enthusiastically planting this area over the last two decades. This is also why dozens of wineries have sprouted up there.

“If you plant the proper varieties,” Flam declares, “we’ve proved over the last 20-25 years that top-end quality wines can be produced [here]. We are a tiny country, but we are recognized internationally for our quality. Just as we were in ancient times.”

“All in all,” says Yehuda Nahar, co-founder, CEO and winemaker of the Jezreel Valley Winery, “what is most unique about Israel is the freedom our industry has developed.

“All wine regions are different from each other,” he says. “Different soil, weather; it’s all different.” In Israel, however, “everything is new — we are all open-minded, there are no rules, we can do what we like … and besides, the Israeli mentality is to break the rules and be creative as much as you can.”

For Nahar, this freedom is a key cultural aspect: “We are flying ahead very fast, in a very unusual way, and we get more interesting wines as a result.”

The Flam family (patriarch Israel at left) and its vineyards, which lie between the Mediterranean Sea and Jerusalem. Photos courtesy of Flam Winery

While he is quick to complain about poor winemaking in Israel — the preponderance of overripe, or even raisined fruit and poorly managed extraction (wine speak for getting the flavor and color out of the grape skins and into the wine), and the overuse of oak — he believes the Israeli wine industry is continually moving in the right direction.

“The industry is very collaborative,” says Nahar. “We share information and insights; as an industry we are doing the right fine-tuning with the wines, approaching a real Mediterranean style — lighter, more fresh, more acidic and more appropriate to drink in a hot climate.”

“This is super important — the wine should fit the climate and the food of Israel,” he argues. “Less big, less macho and more precise, more elegant.”

This change is coming at a furious pace, Nahar says, “but it reflects the change of the personality of the Israelis — we started very big, strong, almost militaristic, and are now becoming more intelligent, more educated, more complex, more refined.”

This reminds me of something Ed Salzberg, former chief winemaker at Barkan Winery, once told me: “The growth of the modern Israeli wine industry went hand in hand with a transition from a society trying to build a state, to a society looking to appreciate the better things in life.” It is, of course, an ongoing story.

The result, argues Nahar, is a distinct evolution away from the often brash and sometimes overbearing facsimiles of New World-styled international grape varietals, like cabernet and chardonnay. Or, at the very least, the treatment of those classical varietals in a style more suited to the region.

“Each winery is doing it in a different way,” says Nahar, “but the commonality — which is actually, and importantly, market driven — is towards wines that are more fresh, and easy drinking, wines that fit our hot, Mediterranean climate.

“Some wineries, like us at Jezreel,” he says “are approaching this through our focus on varietal selection, locally appropriate varietals that make these sorts of wines.” There is “renewed interest in ancient varieties — like the marawi, dabouki and bittuni. (See story on page 2.)

“While other wineries are approaching this through their winemaking methods,” he continues, which is why even the cabs are being made in a “softer, more fresh” style.

Amichai Lurie, winemaker at the Shiloh Winery, is equally happy to talk about Israeli wine from this technical, and more broadly analytical vantage point. Given the chance, he will happily wax eloquent praising Israel’s unique micro-climates, diverse terroir, agro-tech innovations, can-do culture and general wine industry prowess. He never shies away, however, from the Jewish factor.

A staunch religious Zionist, Lurie is crystal clear on why making wine in Israel so special to him: “First of all, and I believe this with my whole heart, we have a spiritual advantage — the past 100 years is part of the geula [biblically prophesied redemption]; Israel went from 0 to 100 in no time flat and made the desert bloom.”

Courtesy of Shiloh Winery

As Lurie explains, the Talmud says [in Sanhedrin, 98a] that a clear sign of the redemption of the Jewish people is that the trees of the Land of Israel will start growing again, and that the re-flourishing of the land is an integral part of the redemption process. The Prophet Ezekiel declared: “But you, O mountains of Israel, will give forth your branch and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for they are soon to come (Ezekiel 36:8).” The Prophet Isaiah said: “For the Lord will comfort Zion… He will make her wilderness like Eden and her wasteland like a garden of the Lord… (51:3)”

What’s more, according to Lurie, the Prophet Amos says this rejuvenation of the land for the benefit of the Jewish people will be the result of the labor of those returning Jews: “Behold, days are coming —  the word of the Lord … I will return the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild desolate cities and settle them; they will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will cultivate gardens and eat their fruits (9:13-15).” So, while the land of Israel was desolate for others, it blooms for the Jewish people returning from exile to redeem the land.

Amichai Lurie, winemaker at the Shiloh Winery. “We have a spiritual advantage” in making wines. Courtesy of Shiloh Winery

In other words, insists Lurie, “our making wine here in Israel has the explicit endorsement and backing of HaKadosh Baruch Hu [the Holy One, Blessed be He]!”

This spiritual or religious advantage doesn’t end there. “We also benefit from having,” he argues, “so many mitzvot [biblical commandments] and halachot [Jewish laws] attached to wine, and to the land and the vineyards — orlah [prohibiting fruits in the first three years], shmita [sabbatical year], t’rumah [heave offering], ma’aser [tithes], pe’ah [corners of the field for the poor], Shich’chah [forgotten produce for the disadvantaged], peret [leaving fallen grapes for the poor] and olelot [leaving isolated grapes for the poor] … just a ton of laws around it all, and most of these can only be fulfilled in Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel].”

But, he insists, “it is such an honor to be able to fulfill these laws.” It is, of course, also a real challenge commercially, and requires dedication, perseverance and much forward planning. “Look,” says Lurie, “a winery’s business plan has to be adapted for this… Imagine observing shmita — no work and no income in the seventh year? Or giving out a percentage of your bottled wine to Leviyim and Kohanim? Or pouring out 1 percent of your entire production every year to fulfill ma’aser—that’s a lot of wine! —or giving away wine to the pour? This takes planning.

“But how can you come back to Israel after thousands of years,” he declares reverentially, “and not try to do all these mitzvot, and do them the right way? How can I be ungrateful to HaKadosh Baruch Hu by not doing everything in my power to fulfill his mitzvot?”

In fulfilling these commandments, and adhering to these laws, however, “I believe,” says Lurie, matter of factly, “that you can taste these advantages in the wine itself.” That the merit of righteousness is somehow imbued in the resulting wine.

Whether one seeks answers in Judaism and God’s promised redemption, in Israel’s natural endowments, the country’s technical innovations or the Israeli people’s cultural vitality and determination to succeed, one can begin to piece together a picture of how making kosher wine in Israel is different from everywhere else.

“As Israelis and as Jews,” muses Yehuda Nahar, “we will never be satisfied. What is going on right now in Israel is unbelievable. The last 20 years have been incredible. All that we’ve accomplished in our industry, and so quickly … and from that vantage point, the future seems boundless.” 


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Wine Regions of Israel: Yatir, the Jewel of the Negev

2/17/2018 10:52:07 AM     Israeli Wine     By Elizabeth Kratz     Comments

Southern Israel’s vineyards, which you can count on one hand, have one winery that consistently scores marks above 90 in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, the worldwide arbiter of good wines. It was my pleasure last week to meet Roni Jesselson and Etti Edri of Yatir Winery at Congregation Ahavath Torah’s evening of wine and whiskey, sponsored by Wine Country, and also again at Royal Wines’ Kosher Food and Wine Experience.

Jesselson, whose family is among the current owners of Carmel, the first and largest winery in Israel (founded in 1882 by Edmond James de Rothschild) and has been primarily known for sacramental wine and juice (though it has developed a very interesting single vineyard series, more on that in another article), explained that Yatir is a boutique winery, founded in 2000, now completely separate from Carmel, with only some shared business operations. Eran Goldwasser is the winemaker and Yaa’cov Ben-Dor is the CEO. Yatir, Jesselson said, is “the ultimate Israel story.”

Yatir prides itself on having grapes grown in the desert alongside a green forest, at the northernmost end of the Negev, Israel’s southern wine region/appellation. It’s next to the 3,000-year-old ruins of the Canaanite settlement of Tel Arad. “I was in the Israeli army, and I learned that David Ben-Gurion wanted to build a forest here,” said Jesselson. “He wanted the desert to bloom. He was laughed at but the forest was planted in 1964, and now there is a forest in the desert. It’s so inspirational,” he said. The JNF did indeed plant that forest after Ben-Gurion was told by multiple scientists that a forest would be impossible to grow in this region; he famously responding by telling them to “change the scientists.”

In 2000 Yatir Winery became part of that lush landscape, growing grapes between and around the forested areas, which “changed the desert soil and made it a better environment for grapes,” Jesselson said. The area is heavily irrigated and reaches the mid-80s in temperature most days.

By the mid-2000s the wines were winning awards and medals. One early benefit of being associated with the Carmel winery was using the option to age wines longer before releasing them. The winery only produced 150,000 bottles a year, Edri said, compared with Carmel’s 15 million bottles annually.

The only white wine Yatir makes is the Yatir Viognier 2016, 100 percent viognier, which is aged partially in steel vats and partially in old oak barrels for a very subtle influence of oak to keep the fruit forward. The nose contains peach and green apple, the taste has nice acidity and the aftertaste is distinctly and strongly citrus. Try this wine at Wine Country for $29. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate chose the Yatir Viognier 2013 among only five Israeli wines selected as one of the best wines and best value of 2015. I know I don’t generally recommend whites priced at this level but this is a wine to try if you love whites with little to no oak and a beautiful mouthfeel.

Yatir’s Mount Amsha 2012, an inviting red blend, is made from 50 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent syrah, 14 percent petit verdot and 6 percent merlot. As the winery’s main entry level red wine blend, the grapes differ from year to year, but the winemakers work hard to ensure that the wine is uniquely “Yatir.” The wine’s beautiful dark red color, its nose of ripe plum and leather and its pleasant aftertastes of smoke and spice are indicative of its year spent with the varietals aging separately in oak, and then combined, bottled and then further aged another 24 months. Wine Country is selling this wine for $33. I recommend trying it while it’s still available!

Every wine at Yatir is a hit, including the Petit Verdot ($35), the Syrah ($40), the Cabernet Sauvignon ($41) or for a special occasion try Yatir Forest ($65). Yatir Forest is one of Israel’s leading wines, and has been awarded 90 points or more for the last nine consecutive harvests by Wine Advocate. This year’s wine, from 2013, comprises 68 percent cabernet sauvignon and 32 percent petit verdot. It is aged in French oak, some of which is new, for 14 months, then aged in the bottle for another year. It has deep, dark color with a nose of fresh tobacco leaves and strong, bracing tannins. This wine has a delicious warmth and strong sense of elegance and structure.


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Wine Grape Varietals

8/16/2017 7:04:42 PM     Israeli Wine     By Scott     Comments

Israel has no indigenous wine grape varieties, which is surprising because there is a local olive oil variety and table grape variety and there a numerous local varieties in nearby Cyprus. However it appears that when the Holy Land was under the jurisdiction of the Muslims, with first Mameluk rule and then the Ottomans, the growing of wine grapes and the making of wine was actively discouraged. Many of the indigenous varieties disappeared.

Yet the names of grapes used to make wine in the mid 19th century are known. They included varieties such as Hevroni, Dabouki, Marawi, Halbani, Sharwishi, Hamdani, Jandali amongst the whites and Zeitani, Karkashani, Razaki, Karashi, Baladi amongst the reds. Most were grown in the Bethlehem or Hebron areas primarily by Arabs and the names reflect their Arab origins. These varieties were sold to the few Jewish wineries, in particularly in the Old City of Jerusalem. However they are not used by mainstream wineries, apart from the Cremisan Monastery, which still uses them.

In 1870 the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School was set up under French management. They were the first to use European varieties in their own Mikveh Israel Winery, but also supplied cuttings for the first commercial vineyards in the country planted in the years 1882 to 1887. The main varieties were: Alicante, Carignan, Bourdales (aka Cinsault), Braquet (aka Brachetto), Esparte (aka Mourvedre) and Petit Bouschet. They wisely chose Mediterranean varieties considering the climate in what was then called Palestine.

Cuttings from Chateau Lafite

On his first visit to Palestine in 1887, Baron Edmond de Rothschild decided he wanted to make a serious Palestine wine. He made the decision to concentrate on Bordeaux varieties. His administrators in Palestine were against the idea, but his vision was supported by Professor Gayon from Bordeaux and Charles Mortier, the manager and winemaker of Chateau Lafite. This was why Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec came to be planted in the late 1880’s from cuttings supplied by Chateau Lafite.

However because of the threat of phylloxera, which was already devastating French vineyards, the vines were imported via Kashmir in India. However this precaution did not prevent the vines from succumbing to phylloxera and in the 1890’s they had to be replanted on American rootstock.

Eventually Rothschild’s vision for quality was put on hold as there was not then a market for a quality Palestine wine and the Israeli market became focused on the more inexpensive, value side of the market. This really meant cheap bulk wines and sweet sacramental wines. So the quality Bordeaux varieties were replaced mainly by

Carignan and Grenache, which dominated Israeli winemaking for most of the 20th century. The main white wine grape was Semillon, with varieties like Clairette and Ugni Blanc in a supporting role. The grape for sweet wines was Muscat of Alexandria.

In the early 1970’s the first varietal wines were exported by Carmel. The wines were called Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, which were dry and Grenache Rose and Semillon, which were semi dry. In the 1980’s the Golan Heights Winery began an ambitious planting program which involved bringing many of the international noble varieties to Israel. The most planted varieties in Israel were Carignan for red grapes and Colombard for whites. At the same time Carignan was the most planted red variety in France and Colombard the leading white variety in California.

Though Carmel re-introduced Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc to Israel, the pioneering Golan Heights Winery were the first to launch, or re-launch the following varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Gamay, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, White Riesling and Muscat Canelli.

Red Wines

The three most heavily planted varieties are in Israel today are Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Merlot followed by Shiraz, Argaman and Petite Sirah. Most of the best red wines are either Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Shiraz varietals or Bordeaux blends based primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Argaman

Argaman comprises 4% of the varieties in Israel. It is exclusively used for inexpensive blends. Its chief claim to fame is that it is an Israeli variety, even if a modern one. It was created in the early 1990’s as an intended replacement for Carignan. It is a cross between Carignan and the Portuguese grape Souzao, and its main benefit is it does provide good color. However, apart from this, it is undistinguished and not a great success. It is mainly grown in the central coastal and Judean Plain.

Barbera

Widely grown in Italy and at its best in Piedmont, Barbera has become a fashionable ‘new’ variety in Israel. Though there is very little Barbera in Israel, what there is has been used to make Barbera wines. As to quality, the jury is still out.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc was originally planted by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in the late 1880’s. In those days it was preferred to Cabernet Sauvignon and requests were made to plant more Cabernet Franc than its more illustrious relation. However unlike its near namesake, it never took hold or created any interest until the last ten years or so. Cabernet Franc is used by some wineries as part of a Bordeaux blend and by others as an interesting, slightly exotic varietal. Recently a few wineries have chosen to specialize in it, seeing it as a variety with a future in Israel. It can grow successfully in drier conditions than Cabernet Sauvignon and ripens ealier. The results though are totally different to the cooler Loire Valley, but that is not to say the wines don’t provide a good alternative to the all conquering Cabernet Sauvignon. As a blending component, it adds complexity and still hold on to its characteristic herbaceousness in the hotter climate.

 Cabernet Sauvignon

The king of vines in so many countries, it is the same in Israel. It was first planted by Rothschild in the late 1880’s, but never became dominant until use of varietal labeling came into vogue in the early 1970’s. Today the finest Israeli wines tend to be Cabernet Sauvignon varietals or Bordeaux blends.

There are more hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon planted than any other variety in Israel, which translates to about 21% of the total tonnage at harvest.

The best Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in areas with an altitude of 600 meters above sea level. The Upper Galilee and central to northern Golan Heights are arguably the best region for this most noble of noble varieties. The depth of colour, concentration of ripe fruit and tannic structure make this the most successful variety. The danger in Israel’s Mediterranean climate is that the wines do not become too jammy.

However the variety appears most successful as part of a Bordeaux style blend, usually blended with Merlot.

Carignan

Israel’s wine industry was built on the back of Carignan which was appropriate because it is a Mediterranean variety and high yields are possible. Less than 20 years ago, Carignan represented 40% of the grapes planted in Israel. Today with all the new plantings of quality varieties, the percentage of Carignan has dropped to 15% as Israel has focused more on making wines of quality. The variety is mainly used in the production of inexpensive supermarket blends, sweet sacramental wine and even grape juice.

However a few enterprising wineries have, by drastically reducing yields, and selecting older vineyards, managed to make old vine wines of character and distinction.

The traditional region for Carignan is the southern part of Mount Carmel, which overlooks the Mediterranean. The best quality old vine Carignan comes from the small enclosed valleys of Meir Shefaya, just north east of Zichron Ya’acov. The wines show aromas of cherries and raspberries, with a backdrop of Mediterranean herbs.

As its use in Israel spans the history of the modern Israel wine industry and its uses have turned out to be so versatile, the simple Carignan grape may turn out to be the variety associated more than any other with Israel.

 Merlot

Merlot was introduced to Israel in the 1980’s. It tends to grow well throughout the country, but never reaches the quality of the best Cabernet Sauvignons. Merlot in Israel is harvested relatively early because it ripens easily. Yields are good and its soft, mild character make it the perfect partner for Cabernet Sauvignons. Most wineries produce a varietal Merlot, which is normally bolstered by 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, but it plays a more significant role in the so called Bordeaux blends.

A great deal of Merlot was planted in the 1990’s and it now represents a 14% of the total.

 Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah (sometimes spelt Petite Syrah) came to Israel in the 1970’s and was primarily used in cheap blends. It is a cross between the Syrah and obscure variety Peloursan, and is known as Durif in France. However there is nothing petite about the wines. It is an underrated grape producing powerful, almost black colored wines and is more tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon. Recently the variety has been used to good effect by using old vine vineyards up to 40 years old to produce blockbuster wines. Petite Sirah grows best in the Judean Foothills. It appears that like in California and Australia, this variety has found a niche in Israel for those looking for something other than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is a variety that has a small but loyal following.

Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is a grape sparingly used in Bordeaux, where it has difficulty ripening in some years. However there are no such problems in Israel, where its structure and color are making it an important part of the premium blends of some major wineries. It appears to do well in a wide variety of places in Israel, whether in the coastal regions, the Judean Hills or Upper Galilee. Whilst appreciating its usefulness as a blender, most winemakers have so far proved reluctant to produce it as a single varietal feeling it lacks the depth to stand on its own. Interestingly though, it has replaced Merlot as the second most dominant variety after Cabernet, in some of the country’s finest Bordeaux blends.

 Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir first came to Israel with the Latroun Monastery. The wines were very light, but definitely with a Pinot Noir nose. In the early 1990’s it was planted more for commercial use and was mainly used in sparkling wine. However it is a grape too fickle for the hot, humid Israeli climate and without doubt is not suited to Israel. The northern Golan Heights, up to 1,200 meters above sea level, is the best region for this variety.

Sangiovese

Sangiovese was introduced to Israel on the Golan Heights. This famous Tuscan variety rarely performs well outside Italy and even in Italy sometimes gives variable results. So it is not a surprise that it is not a great success in Israel. Most is planted on the Golan. The majority is used in lesser expensive blends.

Shiraz/ Syrah

Shiraz is a fairly recent new immigrant having come to Israel in the late 1990’s. Wines produced from the French clone tend to be called Syrah and from the Australian clone, Shiraz. Whatever its origin, Shiraz is the more commonly used name in Israel. Though now with only just over a 8% share, it is still a minor player. However it is widely regarded as a grape for the future being ideal for the Israeli climate. The best regions for this variety are the Judean Foothills, Judean Hills and Upper Galilee. In fact it shows good results everywhere. As many of the vineyards are quite young, the Shiraz character is becoming more pronounced as the vines become older. This could challenge the Cabernet Sauvignon as Israel’s finest grape variety in the future.

There are other varieties being planted, trialed or released by individual wineries. These include Malbec, which is returning after 100 years, Tempranillo, and Pinotage, which Barkan have won prizes for. Most eagerly awaited are Mediterranean varieties such as Mourvedre and the return of virus free and a better clone of Grenache. There is even Zinfandel in Israel. Much goes into White Zinfandel Blush wine. However it rots easily, often before ripening, but two wineries in particular have persevered to produce Zinfandel wines.

 White Grapes.

The main white varieties for the finest white wines are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. There are also White Rieslings, Gewurztraminers and Viogniers. The main varieties in numbers of hectares are Colombard and Emerald Riesling followed by Muscat of Alexandria, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay was first launched in Israel in 1987. Since then is well regarded as being the variety for the finest white wines in Israel.

The finest region for Chardonnay was always considered to be the northern Golan Heights, but some of the finest Chardonnays are now being produced in the rolling hills between the Judean Foothills and the Judean Hills. Without doubt the oaky, high alcohol, ‘peaches and cream’ Chardonnays are proving less fashionable. The part use of stainless steel to reduce the influence of oak in order to preserve green apple aromas and produce better food wines, is the new ‘in’style.

 Colombard

French Colombard came to Israel in the 1970’s. Since then it has become Israel’s most heavily planted white variety, though at 5% of the total, it is far less than it was. The variety is grown at its best in the southern Mount Carmel around Zichron Ya’acov. It produces aromatic wines with excellent acidity, but is usually used in inexpensive, fresh fruity white wine blends.

 Emerald Riesling

Emerald Riesling arrived in Israel in the late 1970’s. In the 1980’s and 90’s, it became by far Israel’s largest selling wine. Many new wine lovers were seduced by the very flowery, aromatic nose and spicy finish of these semi dry, sometimes medium, wines. The Emerald Riesling performed the same job that Liebfraumilch did in the United Kingdom and Lambrusco did in America. Those heady days have passed, but Emerald Riesling is still has its place.

Emerald Riesling was the result of an attempt by the University of California at Davis to produce good yields from a Riesling in a hot climate. It was a cross between the German Riesling and Muscadelle and was created in 1948, ironically the year of the foundation of the State of Israel. In the end it did not take off anywhere – apart from Israel.

 Gewurztraminer

Gewurztraminer was planted on the Golan Heights by the Golan Heights Winery. It certainly needs the colder climate of the northern Golan to reach the optimum Gewurztraminer nose. It provided a welcome newcomer for those looking for higher quality semi dry white wines. However though good international wines they will never be a match for cooler climate Gewurztraminers from Alsace or New Zealand. By far the most successful Israeli use for the Gewurztraminer grape is in the production of luscious dessert wines. Some examples are genuine world class wines, which win a host of awards.

 Muscat of Alexandria

An indigenous grape of the Eastern Mediterranean is the Muscat of Alexandria. It is part of the large Muscat family. This is a big berried grape also used elsewhere to make raisins and table grapes. In Israel it makes a sweet, aromatic, grapey dessert wine. The best area for the Muscat is the central coastal Judean Plain.

Sauvignon Blanc

There has been a revolution in Sauvignon Blancs in the last few years. It was a variety Israelis did not master until recently. That is not to say Sancerre and New Zealand will be quaking in their boots. Israel will never achieve the grassiness of a Sancerre or the concentration of tropical flavors of a New Zealand Sauvignon. However by planting at higher altitudes, harvesting early and using cold fermentation in stainless steel, the best represent good international standard wines in a fresh, crisp style. They certainly represent better food wines than many Israeli Chardonnays and are suitable to the Israeli climate.

Viognier

Considering there is so little Viognier planted, there are a surprising number of Viogniers on the market. They appear to produce good wines in the Mediterranean climate with the attractive apricot, pear aroma associated with the variety. There is a variety in the production styles. Some are dry, others semi dry and some are oak aged and others are fermented and stored only in stainless steel tanks.

White Riesling

This variety is often known as Johannisberg Riesling within Israel and White Riesling in export markets. It makes a welcome change to the more rustic Emerald Riesling. It is grown at its best in the northern Golan Heights or Upper Galilee.

The finest Rieslings in Israel are usually made in an ‘off dry’style, hovering between dry and semi dry.

Other whites in Israel include the Semillon and Chenin Blanc. Both have been a long time in Israel but resulting wines in the past were poor and they are not planted in the most advantageous regions. So they have become unfashionable. Muscat Canelli (aka Muscat de Frontignan) has also arrived and produces dessert wines with a more delicate aroma than the Muscat of Alexandria, but as yet is only sparsely planted. Most interesting is the experimental plantings of those Mediterranean varieties Marsanne and Roussanne.


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Wine in Modern Israel

8/14/2017 12:00:44 PM     Israeli Wine     By Adam Montefiore     Comments

By the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, there were fourteen wineries in existence. Eliaz Wine Cellars (1952) and Askalon-Carmei Zion (1950) were founded in the early years of the state. Eliaz was named after Eliezer Seltzer, who was killed in the War of Independence. It was founded in a failed perfume factory in Binyamina. Askalon was founded by the Segal family, who had previously opened a distillery in the Sarona settlement.

James Rothschild, son of Baron Edmond, took over his father’s interests in Palestine. In 1957 he arranged to donate the Rishon le Zion and Zichron Ya'acov Wine Cellars to Carmel. Thus the involvement and interest of the Rothschild family in the Israel wine industry extended from 1882 until 1957.

In 1957, the Israel Wine Institute was formed in cooperation with the industry and government. It was initially managed by an agronomist and oenologist from France. Initially, many wines were generically named, but in 1961 Israel was a signatory of the Madrid Pact and names such as Port and Sherry disappeared from the domestic market place.

The main wineries at this time were Carmel Mizrahi, Eliaz , Friedman-Tnuva (forerunner of WEST -Stock), Askalon, and Mikveh-Israel. The main areas of vineyards were the valleys surrounding the southern slopes of Mt. Carmel, and the central Judean Plain & Judean Foothills.

By the 1960's, Carmel, controlled over 90% of the vineyards in Israel. Most of the red wines were based on Carignan, and medium dry white wines were made from Semillon. Carmel Hock, Grenache Rose and Adom Atik, were the most popular table wines. In 1971 Israel’s first varietal wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc – were released in the export market by Carmel.

1970’s

In 1976 Carmel made a legendary Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve, which was Israel’s first international style quality wine. It was the first wine aged in small oak barrels and aged in bottle before release. It was to be the forerunner of the quality revolution.

In the 1970’s Professor Cornelius Ough, from the University of California at Davis, changed the course of Israeli wine. After visiting the Golan Heights, he reported back that the Golan Heights would be a perfect site for growing high quality wine grapes. The first vines were planted there in 1976.

1980’s

This set the stage for the quality revolution which began in 1983 with the founding of the Golan Heights Winery, which immediately sought the assistance of Californian winemaker Peter Stern. He was to be the winemaking consultant for the next twenty years.

The Golan Heights Winery re-invented Israeli viticulture and brought New World winemaking techniques to Israel, using the cooler climate vineyards of the Golan.

When Yarden wines were exported to America by the Golan Heights Winery, they were referred to as Israel’s first world class wines. In 1987 at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London, the Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 1984, won not only a Gold Medal, but also the Winiarski Trophy as the best red wine in the Competition. It was the first of many international awards.

Tishbi Winery was founded in 1985. Jonathan Tishbi, whose great grandparents planted vineyards for Rothschild in the 1880’s, became the first vineyard owner to decide to build his own winery.

1990’s

In 1990 Barkan took over the Stock – WEST winery (previously known as Friedman Tnuva), which had gone bankrupt. The new owner grew their business to become the second largest winery in the country.

The boutique winery revolution began in the 1990’s. Tzora Kibbutz and Dalton followed Tishbi’s example of adding a winery to established vineyards. Yair Margalit and Eli Ben Zaken decided to establish their own wineries, resulting in Margalit Winery and Domaine du Castel respectively.

Dr. Yair Margalit was a chemistry professor, who studied winemaking in California, opened his boutique winery in 1989. Eli Ben Zaken was self taught. By a stroke of good fortune his first wine got noticed by Serena Sutcliffe MW, head of the Sotheby’s Wine Department. Both Margalit and Castel showed that smaller wineries could also make world class wines.

The 1990's really saw the coming of age of the Israeli wine market. During these prosperous years, Israel went through a cultural revolution in terms of food & wine.

2000’s

The larger wineries reacted to the boutique winery boom. The traditional, historic wineries of Israel: Carmel Mizrahi, Efrat, Eliaz and Askalon were renamed Carmel Winery, Teperberg 1870, Binyamina Winery and Segal Wines respectively, and they started a revolution of their own, deciding to re-brand, and focus on quality table wines.

The large wineries also invested heavily. Carmel built two new small state of the art wineries, Kayoumi Winery in the Upper Galilee and Yatir Winery in the Northeast Negev. They closed production at Rishon Le Zion and totally refurbished their Zichron Ya’acov facility. Golan Heights Winery opened a new winery called Galil Mountain, situated on the border with Lebanon. Barkan built a new advanced winery at Hulda and planted alongside it the largest vineyard in the country. They also bought Segal Wines. Teperberg built a new winery at Tzora.

Large commercial concerns entered the wine business. Tempo Beer Industries, the country’s largest brewery, purchased Barkan-Segal. The country’s largest beverage company, The Central Bottling Co., aka Coka Cola Israel, purchased Tabor Winery. The supermarket company Hezi Hinam bought Binyamina Winery. A Recanati, from the famous industrialist & philanthropist family, founded the Recanati Winery. An international consortium of investors from Israel, USA, UK and France purchased Carmel.

The international recognition Israel started receiving for its wines was a major step forward. The Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience, open by invitation only to the leading 250 wineries in the world, invited Yarden to participate. French critics Bettane & Dessaume selected Castel as one of the wineries featured in their book “The World’s Greatest Wines.” Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book awarded a maximum four stars to Castel and three to four stars to Yatir. The Wine Spectator chose Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon as one of their Top 100 Wines of The Year.

The Wine Advocate, owned by Robert Parker, the world’s most influential wine critic, began regular tastings of Israeli wines. In the first tasting Yatir Winery scored 93 points, then the best score for an Israeli, kosher or Eastern Mediterranean wine. Since then Castel, Margalit, Clos de Gat and Yarden have each also achieved this score.

In wine-tasting competitions, Israeli wines have also been to the forefront. Yarden, Barkan & Recanati wines, in particular, have been prolific in collecting gold medals worldwide. In particular, three awards have stood out. Vinitaly gave the Trophy for ‘The Best Winery’ to the Golan Heights Winery. The Decanter World Wine Awards awarded the prestigious International Trophy to Carmel Winery. The Wine Enthusiast awarded the Best New World Winery Award to The Golan Heights Winery.

Today there are 40 wineries harvesting 50 tons or more, 250 boutique wineries and many more garagiste or domestic wineries. The largest wineries in Israel are: Carmel, Barkan, Golan Heights, Teperberg, Binyamina, Tabor, Tishbi, Galil Mountain, Dalton & Recanati. The main grape varieties planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Merlot & Shiraz/ Syrah. Israel has 5,500 hectares of wine vineyards. The main wine growing areas are the Upper Galilee, Golan Heights, Mount Carmel, Judean Plain & Judean Hills.

Israeli wine has certainly arrived!


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Wine in Ancient Israel

8/13/2017 7:08:22 PM     Israeli Wine     By Adam Montefiore     Comments

The Middle East & Eastern Mediterranean was the cradle of the world’s wine culture, and Canaan must have been one of the earliest countries to enjoy wine, over 2,000 years before the vine reached Europe. 

The oldest grape pips found in the regions of modern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon date back to the Stone Age period (c. 8000 B.C.E.).

Noah Plants Vineyard

The art of winemaking is thought to have begun in the area between the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Sea of Galilee.  Indeed, the oldest pips of 'cultivated' vines, dating to c. 6000 B.C.E., were found in Georgia.  The biblical Noah was the first recorded viticulturist who, after the flood, "became a husbandman and planted a vineyard."  As The Book of Genesis relates, he was also the first person to suffer from drinking too much!

The vine then traveled south, through Phoenicia and Canaan to Egypt, the world's first great wine culture.  It is known that the Egyptians particularly prized the wine of Canaan.

Moses’ Cluster of Grapes

In the Book of Numbers, the story is told of how Moses sent spies to check out the Promised Land. They returned with a cluster so large, that it had to be suspended from a pole and carried by two men. Today both Carmel Winery and the Israel Government Tourist Office use this image as their logo. The grapes were chosen to symbolize how the land flowed with milk and honey. The vine was one of the blessings of the Promised Land promised to the children of Israel.

In recent years excavations have uncovered ancient presses and storage vessels that indicate a well-developed and successful wine industry existed in the area. Grapes, grape clusters and vines were frequent motifs on coins and jars found from ancient times.  Coins have been found commemorating the victories of the Hasmoneans and Bar Kochba with grapes featured as a symbol of the fertility of the country.  Many wine presses and storage cisterns have been found from Mount Hermon to the Negev.

Inscriptions and seals of wine jars illustrate that wine was a commercial commodity being shipped in goatskin or pottery from ports such as Dor, Ashkelon and Joppa (Jaffa). The vineyards of Galilee and Judea were mentioned. Wines with names like Sharon, Carmel and from places like Gaza, Ashkelon and Lod were famous. The earliest storage vessels originated in southern Canaan and were known as Canaanite Jars. Today they are better known by their Greek name, ‘Amphora.’

King David’s Cellar

The Kings of Judah were said to have owned vast vineyards and stores for wine. King David's wine holdings were so substantial that his court included two special officials to manage them. One was in charge of the vineyards and the other in charge of the cellars. This may have been Israel’s first sommelier! 

At this time the Jewish devotion to wine was clearly shown in their developing literature, lifestyle and religious ritual. Indeed, anyone planting a new vineyard was exempt from military service, even in national emergency.

In about 1800 B.C.E. there was a communication which reported that Palestine was "blessed with figs and with vineyards producing wine in greater quantity than water."  

The Book of Isaiah gives very clear instructions of how to plant care for a vineyard, even to the point of suggesting the wine press is close to the vineyard.

Micha's vision of peace on earth and harmony among men was illustrated with, "and every man will sit under his vine and under his fig tree and none shall make him afraid."

The wine produced was not just for drinking but also important for medical purposes, for cleaning out homes and dyeing cloth. It was also used as a currency for paying tribute.

 

Winemaking in Ancient Israel and was at its peak during the period of the Second Temple. It was a major export and the economic mainstay of the era. However, when the Romans destroyed the Temple, Jews were dispersed and the once proud industry forsaken. The Arab conquest from 600 C.E. and Mohammed's prohibition of alcohol caused many remaining vineyards to be uprooted,

The Crusades

The Crusaders briefly revived the cultivation of grapes in the Holy Land and grapes were planted in places like Bethlehem and Nazareth.  The revival was short lived, but the Crusaders did return to Europe with many noble grape varieties which had their origins in the Middle East. Varieties such as Chardonnay, Muscat and Shiraz are said to come from the region.

On the founding of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle Eastern wine industry was finally obliterated because of the decline in wealth of the whole region and the wars and epidemics which greatly reduced and weakened the populations.  Communities which had supported the wine industry finally departed. Prices of wine rose, consumption fell. Hashish, and later coffee, replaced wine as  affordable intoxicants.


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Israeli Wine Fast Facts

8/13/2017 4:31:12 PM     Israeli Wine     By Adam Montefiore     Comments

VINEYARDS

Israel is usually regarded as being part of the Middle East. It may be more accurately considered as being situated in the Eastern Mediterranean, a region also referred to as the Near East or ‘The Levant.’

CLIMATE:   Mainly Mediterranean. Long, hot dry summers; short wet winters; snow on higher ground. Semi-arid & desert conditions, in the Negev.

SOILS:    Volcanic in north; sandy red soils on coast & chalk & limestone on the hills.

HECTARES:   5,500 hectares (13,585 acres; 55,000 dunams).

HARVEST (METRIC TONS): 2014:   60,054     2013: 55,693     2012:  52,873     2011:  46,079    2010:  46,258  

VINTAGE:     August to end of October – (often begins late July & occasionally ends early November); Machine & hand harvested.

BEST VINTAGES: 2014; 2013; 2012; 2008; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2000; 1997; 1995; 1993; 1990;

1989; 1985; 1979; 1976

 

GRAPE VARIETIES

Israel’s traditional volume varieties, Carignan & Colombard, apart from some quality old vine Carignans, are usually only used in inexpensive blends. They are gradually being replaced by international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc. Shiraz is proving both popular & suitable for Israel’s climate. Bordeaux varieties have been most successful to date, yet Mediterranean varieties may be more suitable in the longer term.

VARIETIES – METRIC TONS %:

Cabernet Sauvignon 18%; Carignan 17%; Merlot 13%; Shiraz/ Syrah 7%; Petit Verdot 5%; Colombard 4%; Muscat of Alexandria 4%; Argaman 5%; Chardonnay 3%; Petite Sirah 2%; Sauvignon Blanc  2%; Emerald Riesling 2%; Cabernet Franc 2%; Malbec 2%; Tempranillo 1%; Mourvedre 1%

LESS THAN 1%: Pinotage; Muscat Canelli; White Riesling; Pinot Noir; Semillon: Sangiovese; Tempranillo; Gewurztraminer; Barbera; Muscat Hamburg; Chenin Blanc; Zinfandel; Grenache; Nebbiolo.

 

WINERIES

The three largest wineries – Carmel, Barkan & Golan, (along with their respective subsidiaries: Yatir, Segal & Galil Mountain) account for 60% of the harvest.  The top 6 wineries total 75 % of the harvest and the top 12 account for well over 90%.

NO. COMMERCIAL WINERIES:                          60

NO. BOUTIQUE WINERIES & GARAGISTES:    300 +

LARGE WINERIES (> 2,500 metric tons  /  2.1 million  bottles ):

1.      Carmel Winery – Zichron Ya’acov, Alon Tabor, Ramat Dalton (Kayoumi), Tel Arad (Yatir)

2.     Barkan Winery – Hulda

3.     Golan Heights Winery – Katzrin

4.      Teperberg 1870 – Tzora

5.      Arza Winery – Mishor Adumin

 

MEDIUM SIZED WINERIES  (> 1,000 metric  tons  / 840,000 bots ):

6.      Zion Winery – Mishor Adumim

7.      Jerusalem Winery – Jerusalem

8.      Tabor Winery – Kfar Tabor (Tabor Village)

9.      Binyamina Winery – Binyamina

10.    Recanati Winery – Emek Hefer

11.    Tishbi Winery – Binyamina

12.    Dalton Winery – Dalton

13.    Galil Mountain – Yiron

 

SMALLER WINERIES

Some of the more prominent of the smaller wineries are listed below:

 

North

GALILEE      Adir, Ramat Naftaly, Netofa, Shvo, Trio

GOLAN HEIGHTS     Bazelet Hagolan, Chateau Golan, Odem Mountain, Pelter

Coast

MT CARMEL    Amphorae, Bar Maor, Margalit, Somek, Tulip

SHARON PLAIN    AlexanderBenhaim, Lewinsohn, Vitkin

Center

JUDEAN PLAIN     Bravdo, Segal, Sphera

JUDEAN FOOTHILLS    Clos de Gat, Flam, Montefiore, Tzora

JUDEAN HILLS     Castel, Gush Etzion, Sea Horse, Tzuba

Central Mountains

SHOMRON HILLS    Gvaot, Psagot, Shilo, Tura

South

NEGEV    Midbar, Ramat Hanegev, Yatir

 

ISRAELI  MARKET

WINE MARKET IN ISRAEL:      US$ 315 million annually

IMPORTS:    20%, mainly from 1. Italy; 2. Chile; 3. Argentina; 4. France; 5. Spain

CONSUMPTION:    5 liters a head

MARKET SHARE:   63% red; 16% white; 8% sparkling; 2% rose;11% sweet (moscato style, dessert & sacramental)

 

EXPORT

EXPORT OF ISRAELI WINES ($ m.)

2014:      $ 40   (2001: $ 8.01 m.)

MAIN IMPORTERS OF ISRAELI WINES

1. U.S.A; 2. France; 3. U.K;  4. Canada; 5. Poland,  6. Germany; 7. Holland

EXPORT SALES

 55+ % of exports to North America; 35+ % to Western Europe. Remainder to more than 30 countries in 5 continents.

 

ISRAELI  WINERY RANKINGS

HUGH JOHNSON’S POCKET WINE BOOK

The number of stars given to Israeli wineries, in Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book, are listed below.

FOUR STARS:

Clos du Gat

THREE TO FOUR STARS:

Flam, Yatir 

THREE STARS:

Castel, Golan Heights, Lewinsohn, Margalit, Tzora

TWO TO THREE STARS:

Carmel, Chateau Golan, Recanati, Sphera, Shvo

TWO STARS:

Adir, Barkan-Segal, Bar Maor, Dalton, Pelter, Sea Horse, Tabor, Vitkin

ONE TO TWO STARS:

 Amphorae, Binyamina, Bravdo, Galil Mountain, Teperberg, Tulip

 

ISRAELI WINE SCORES

ROBERT PARKER’S WINE ADVOCATE

The highest scoring wines in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate are listed below.

94 POINTS

Alexander Amorolo 2011

Clos du Gat Sycra Muscat 2006

Castel Grand Vin 2013

 

93 POINTS

Alexander Grand Reserve 2010

Castel Grand Vin 2008

Castel Grand Vin 2006

Flam Noble 2010                                                  

Margalit Cabernet Sauvignon Sp. Res. 2007 

Margalit Enigma 2006             

Yarden El Rom Cabernet Sauvignon 2003                  

Yatir Forest 2003 

 

92 POINTS

Chateau Golan Eliad Royal Reserve 2012

Castel Grand Vin 2004                                                  

Castel Grand Vin 2009

C Blanc du Castel 2014                                                  
Clos du Gat Sycra Syrah 2007

Clos de Gat Sycra Merlot 2006

Flam Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005

Flam Noble 2011

Makura Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Recanati Wild Carignan Reserve 2011

Recanati Special Reserve 2011

Recanati Special Reserve 2012

Recanati Special Reserve 2014                                      

Tzora Or 2006                                                                

Yarden El Rom Cabernet Sauvignon 2008                    

Yatir Forest 2008                                                            

 

WINE REGIONS

HECTARES OF VINEYARDS BY REGION (%)

=       GALILEE 41% – mainly Upper Galilee & Golan Heights

=       SAMSON 27%  –  vineyards in central coastal plain, Judean Lowlands, Judean Foothills

=       SHOMRON 17% – southern Mt. Carmel – mainly in valleys around Zichron Ya’acov

=       JUDEAN HILLS 10% – Jerusalem mountains, Gush Etzion & Yatir Forest – southern Judean Hills

=       NEGEV 5% – mainly Ramat Arad, Sde Boker & Mitzpe Ramon

OFFICIAL WINE REGIONS

 

Region in Hebrew

Name in English

Vineyard Areas

Galil

Galilee

  • Upper Galilee
  • Lower Galilee
  • Golan Heights

Shomron

Samaria

  • Mt. Carmel
  • Sharon
  • Shomron Hills

Shimshon

Samson

  • Central Coastal
  • Judean Lowlands
  • Judean Foothills

Harey Yehuda

Judean Hills

  • Jerusalem
  • Gush Etzion
  • Yatir Forest

Hanegev

Negev

  • NE Negev
  • Central  Negev

 

Wine regions in bold type are registered with the TTB (USA) and the European Community.

 

WINE TOURISM

There is a great deal of domestic and international wine tourism. Larger wineries are more likely to have visitors’ centers. Smaller wineries are more likely to be open on Shabbat- Saturdays.

The main wine routes are the Upper Galilee & Golan (north), Mount Carmel (northern coast) and the Judean Hills & Foothills regions (center). These days there are also wine routes in the Negev (south) and the Central Mountains too.

 

THIRD PARTY RECOMMENDATION

The corner has clearly been turned qualitatively. Israel has a real wine industry that deserves consumer attention. There are attractive wines with typicity and some distinction….Many are classic and charming and the best will impress anyone.”  Mark Squires, Wine Advocate

 

“The…wines are getting better all the time and some of them are superb” Robert Parker, Business Week

“New vineyards with classic varieties and a focus on cool climate, high altitude regions has transformed Israeli wines, as has modern technology and internationally trained winemakers.”  Hugh Johnson, Pocket Wine Book

“Improvements in quality and consistency since the mid 1990’s have been remarkable.” Jancis Robinson MW, World Atlas of Wine

“The country’s entire wine industry has gained global recognition.” Tom Stevenson, Sotheby’s Wine Guide

"Israel is on track to make wines with a distinctive style and taste. Its an amazing turnaround for a nation that has been mostly overlooked in the world wine sweepstakes."  Kim Marcus, The Wine Spectator

“Israel’s best Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots are exceptional”  Andrew Jefford, Wine Magazine

Israel has developed a wine industry that will confound preconceptions.” Mark Squires, Wine Advocate   

 “Israel is a rising star of the wine world”  Oz Clarke, Wine

“Israel wine has been transformed in the last 20 years by producers who have imported wine expertise to go with their existing technological and agricultural prowess.” Hugh Johnson, Pocket Wine Book 

 “In such a climate, tending vineyards and producing wine is an act of courage and of optimism. I have enormous admiration for the majority of Israel’s winemakers…. Surrounded by anger, dogma, devastation, deprivation, mutual suspicion and….politics, they offer the possibility of hope for a better future.” Tim Atkin MW, The Observer/ Off Licence News

“Once, recommendation of Israel wines was mostly of a sentimental nature. That is no longer necessary.” Frank Prial, New York Times  

“No-one should avoid wines simply because they have kosher certification. It seems generally irrelevant.”Wine Advocate

 

SOURCES

www.wines-israel.com

Israel Wine & Grapes Board (Ministry of Agriculture);

Israel Wine Institute; Israel Export Institute (both Ministry of Trade & Industry);

 

The Wine Route of Israel, Eliezer Sacks, Adam Montefiore (Cordinata)

Rogov’s Ultimate Guide To Israeli Wines, Daniel Rogov (Toby Press)

Wines of Israel, Eliezer Sacks, Adam Montefiore (Cordinata)

Wines of Israel, Israel Export Institute

The Bible of Israeli Wines, Michael Ben-Joseph (Modan)

The Book of New Israeli Food, Janna Gur (Al Ha’Shulchan)

 

Divine Vintage, Randall Hesketh & Joel Butler MW (Palgrave Macmillan)

Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide No. 7, Robert Parker (Simon & Schuster)

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2013, Hugh Johnson (Mitchell Beazley)

The Oxford Companion To Wine, Jancis Robinson MW (Oxford)

 

The Vine & Wine in Archaeology of The Land of Israel, Prof. Amos Hadas (Kronenberg)

Drink & Be Merry, Michal Dayagi-Mendels (The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

Rogov’s Ultimate Guide To Kosher Wines, Daniel Rogov (Toby Press)

The Kosher Grapevine, Irving Langer (Gefen)


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