Following the success of the first Wines of Israel tasting, the Israeli Economic Mission with the help of the Dunn Robbins group put on the 2nd Wines of Israel event today in NYC (following a similar event in Houston this past Monday).
Though I was able to sneak around and taste the wines of some other Israeli wineries I spent a majority of my time at the Carmel table, proudly pouring wine.
As a Carmel (and Yatir) employee I don’t think it too appropriate to get into too many details about specific wines, but I would like to share a few general thoughts.
The number of wineries represented at the event was down from 20 last time to 15. I believe this is in large part due to the significant investment required to participate (cost of wines, airline tickets, hotels, “table” cost, etc.). Given the exposure I think it is worth every penny, but it is still a significant expense that is probably not fiscally possible for many of the smaller wineries. (I do believe all the large “commercial” wineries were there.)
There was a four person panel and once again I was a bit disappointed by the overall tone which seemed a bit negative. Sure Israeli wines have had a challenging time overcoming the stigma of “kosher wines”, but I think Israeli wines have across the board made tremendous strides and most industry people recognize this As a whole the industry would be better served by focusing on the positive developments rather than the challenges it still faces (which I think is a topic more appropriate for internal discussion).
Overall however this was really a tremendous event. Well attended by members of the press & trade, people I spoke with were WOW-ed by the wines they tried. Of the wines I tasted at other tables I felt almost all were very well-made wines that we can all be quite proud of. Sure there was an overly oaky Chardonnay, an overripe Cabernet and lots of wines with alcohol levels exceeding 14% abv, but there were few (if any) wines I’d be embarrassed to serve in my home.
I now, more than ever, firmly believe that there IS a place in the mainstream wine world for Israeli wines. I hope today’s event helped many of the attendees to share that sentiment.
Happy Israeli Wine Tasting!