Posts Tagged ‘Israeli Wine’

Drinking mature wine…

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I had one of my most enjoyable tastings a few days ago.  I got to taste about 20 wines ranging in age from 7-11 years old, all stored in optimal conditions.  I knew which wines I would be tasting ahead of time and was concerned that many would be past their prime and possibly even dead.  Lo & behold, the wines were all alive and quite spectacular.

It is said that 95% (or thereabout) of wine in consumed within 24 hours of its being purchased.  Which leads me to believe that most people have not had the extreme pleasure of drinking a wine that has had time to mature in the bottle, a bottle aged wine.

From “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”: “Crudely, the molecular changes known to unfold in a sealed wine bottle that has been laid down for years involve the gradual interaction of oxygen and wine.  Simple chemical compounds break down and recombine into more and more complex forms called polymeric phenols.  Acidity and alcohol soften.  The largest compounds – the harsh, astringent tannins – drift down into a carpet of sediment, taking with them the saturated, inky pigments.  They leave behind a mellowed, unfathomably subtle flavor and a brick-red hue.  Everything knits together, resolving into an ever finer complexity expressed fragrantly in the wine’s bouquet.”

The chapter gets into more detail about mature wine (while discussing Bordeaux purported to be from Thomas Jefferson’s cache dating back to the late 1700′s, and declares that “a wine is considered mature when it has maximized its flavor possibilities but has not yet begun to deteriorate”.

I still believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Some people prefer the primary aromas and flavors of a young wine, while others prefer the tertiary characteristics.  Of the wines I tried at the tasting I was shocked to discover that not only were most of the wines alive, but they were still displaying youthful fruit.  Their color was almost across the board still ruby, not showing very much (if any) of the brick color that is indicative of an aged wine (as it goes from purple to ruby to brick and ultimately towards brown as it reaches the end of its life).

I tried 5 Bordeaux, 3 Spanish wines, 2 wines from California and 9 wines from Israel.

The Bordeaux was all quite nice and I wish I had time with each bottle to enjoy it as it evolved.  Sadly this was a bit of a speed tasting for me as my job on this evening was simply to verify that the wines were still alive.  They were alive yet I couldn’t help but think they all seemed a bit lite.  They were definitely light in body.  I wonder what types of characteristics would have been revealed had I had more time with these wines.

Next were the Spanish wines from Capcanes; A 2000, 2001 & 2003.  These were probably my (more…)

Israeli wine is the best!

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Call it writer’s block, call it a much needed vacation or blame it on the J-O-B…what can I say?  I took 10+ weeks off from blogging.  It is like the gym, once you stop going for a while, getting back into the routine can be difficult.

Well, I’m back…and with a purpose.  I’m here to explain why Israeli wines are the best.

OK, maybe not the best (yet), but I do believe that many of the better Israeli wines are also some of the most interesting wines in the world.

I was compelled to post this thought given the incredible award recently bestowed upon the Carmel Winery, Israel’s oldest and largest winery.  Decanter Magazine in their annual awards declared the Carmel 2006 Kayoumi (single vineyard site) Shiraz the best Rhone varietal over £10.  This meant the wine was deemed better than Syrah/Shiraz from famed French Chateau & Australian wineries.

Israel is considered by most to be a “new world” wine producing region.  Which makes sense when you consider that the MODERN wine-making culture in Israel is only about 30 years old.  But this New World region is like a child with an OLD SOUL.  You know those kids…the ones whose maturity is well beyond their years – who seem to literally possess an old soul.  Well, so too Israel & its vineyards.  These are vineyards that are planted amongst ancient (3000 years +) wine presses.

So what does all this have to do with Israeli wine being the best?  Well, other “New World” wines are generally fruit driven.  While typically “Old World” wines are earth or spice driven.

Talk to people in the know about Israeli wines and you will hear about wines that are a mix of fruit & spice.  The warm Eastern Mediterranean sun ripens the grapes and gives the wines a fruity character.  In addition to this fruitiness there is a unique & interesting spicy herbaceousness to Israeli wines.  Some say it is the wild herbs that grow all over the country.  Others say it is the magic of the place.

If you ask me I believe that all are contributing factors.  No matter…all I know is Israeli wines are really good, and starting to garner international recognition.

Happy Israeli wine tasting!

WTG

Best Bet Passover Wines – Vol 2.1

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Ahhh…Israeli wines.  A combination of two things I most cherish (along with my wife & family of course) in this world; Israel & wine.

Working in the wine industry has afforded me many opportunities to taste wines.  In recent years however it has also prevented me from participating in wine events (such as the Gotham Kosher wine Extravaganza) in the role of wine writer as I had in previous years.  As such there may be wines I will write about strictly on how I remember them (probably previous vintages) or based recommendation from respected friends.  And further, there may be wines that I omit, as negative feelings following a break up (professional) prevents me from speaking nicely about an Ex.

Many of my favorite Israeli wines (more…)

Road to recovery

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

It has been 10 days since surgery and all seems to be going well.  Pain is subsiding, I’m not in a cast & I get my stiches out in 2 days.  Is it possible I may be able to bath like a human being again soon??  I understand that if I commit to babying the wrist and remaining in my wrist gaurd that the doc may not require a new cast.  WOOHOO!!!  Two handed showers, here I come!

wrist gaurd

So wrist stuff is going well Wine Tasting Guy, but what up with the wine????

Plenty of wine stuff to discuss.  And staying close to the heart, it is all Israeli wine related.

This past Friday night I opened up a couple of Bordeaux style blends from Israel.  Both were from the 2003 vintage and both considered to be top notch wines from value wineries.  I’m excited to report that both were showing complex secondary characteristics and were drinking quite beautifully.

Though the two have nothing to do with each other (Israeli wine & mevuhal), I just heard about some new MEVUSHAL Israeli wines hitting the market.   Anyone who has followed my posts over time knows that I take issue with mevushal (flash pasteurization) wines (why would anyone want to heat up a wine?).  That said, for caterers & restaurants, places where ONLY mevushal wines are allowed, new quality Israeli offerings are welcome news.  I’ll report more as soon as I’ve had the chance to try them.

Finally I want to let you know about a wine tasting event TOMORROW night.  Some information about the event can be found here.  In a nutshell I’ll be leading a tasting of high end, small batch Israeli wine.  Hard to find wines from Saslove, Sea Horse & La Terra Promessa wineries will be tasted.  And as an incredible bonus,  Chef Eran will be pairing these Mediterranean beauties with his exquisite cuisine.  The tasting has only 5 spots left (as of this writing) so please RSVP ASAP if you’d like to join us.

Happy two-handed Israeli wine (dare I say even mevushal) tasting!

WTG

SCREW ME!

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Having returned last night from 2 1/2 weeks in Israel, I saw the doc about my wrist again today.  Surgery is scheduled for Friday – I am getting a screw put into my wrist.  Can’t say that I am too excited about the upcoming procedure, but it will hopefully end this regretful wrist saga.

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While in Israel I of course tasted a bunch of wine.  I did not however take any tasting notes, so we’ll have to discuss the standouts in real rough format.

Of special note was the ever increasing Israeli boutique wine market.  It seems just about every Israeli wine lover with the ability to plant some vines or buy some grapes is starting a label or opening up a boutique winery.  Sarcasm aside, some of the better boutiques are doing an amazing job.  I’m still worried about the pricing policies many of these wineries are adopting, but the product they are releasing is continuing to be of high quality and showing continued improvement.

On to the wines, I tried a new Segal Winery wine called “Single”.  The wine was on promotion at a restaurant and was being offered for the equivalent of about $25/bottle.  Full of fruit, hints of oak, soft & subtle, this wine went great with our grilled meats & chicken.

A few days later we happened upon a 2003 “Dishon vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon also by Segal Winery.  Always the fan of Segal vineyards (their “unfiltered” is amazing), I was disappointed.  This 6 year old wine was showing some complex secondary characteristics (desirable in aged wines) & was very much alive.  But it seemed to have undergone a minor secondary fermentation in the bottle as there was a bit of “fizziness” to the wine.  The fizziness seemed to dissipate as the wine was open & revealed a lovely wine.  But the initial glass or two with our food was not what it should have been and detracted from the food/wine experience.

Another negative wine-in-restaurant experience happened when we ordered a wine from a VERY well thought of winery; Yatir – the 2005 Cab-Merlot-Shiraz blend.  Others enjoyed the wine more than I did as I felt it seemed a bit cooked, showing baked/stewed fruit aromas & flavors.  I wonder if it was stored near a hot kitchen.

I stopped by old friend Ze’ev of Sea Horse wines and tasted a new blend – a barrel sample of his 2009 Cote du Rhone/GSM (grenache/syrah/mourvedre).  A very pretty floral nose reminiscent of a light Dolcetto.  The wine had a light body and will make for a terrific summer red (summer of 2010).

Finally, I attended a tasting of Psagot wines.  Of late I have been hearing positive things about Psagot but have until the tasting stayed away due to pricing that being unfamiliar with the wines prevented me from buying a bottle.  Special thanks to the good folks at Buy Wine Israel for insisting I be there cause WOW, these wines were impressive.  We started off with a Viognier that showed great varietal expression.  Flowers, honey and a overall pretty bouquet this wine was soft and balanced, something often difficult to achieve with these ripe (and often high alcohol) varietals.  From there we tasted several reds, including a vertical of the merlot (2006 & 2007), a cab & a blend.  All the wines were impressive but the Merlots stood out to me.  I believe that the Judean Hills are producing some excellent wines but the Merlots are some of the best around.  Chilean Merlot has been getting good press in recent years & I think it is time Israeli Merlot (Judean Hills in particular) get their due.  Now if only Israeli wineries could figure out a way to produce equally good wine & price them more along the lines of the wines coming out of Chile.  Though I am not sure it is feasible and don’t see it happening, if/when Israeli wines are priced on the shelves at $15 (give or take $3) they will be well on their way to appealing to the mainstream wine market.

Happy surgically repaired wrist, Israeli (merlot) wine tasting!

WTG

Dalton Winery NYC tasting

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Starting off with the wrist, I will tell you that losing the use of a dominant hand is NOT FUN.  It doesn’t hurt much anymore, but it sure makes simple mundane activities real difficult.  I have my 2 week checkup tomorrow and will know more (I hope) about healing time, etc.

BUT, a quick note to let you know about a tasting taking place TOMORROW.

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Alex Haruni of Dalton Winery (Premium Israeli wine…and yes, kosher) is in town & will be pouring some SPECIAL wines at an event TOMORROW night, Wednesday 9/9/09.

Information on the tasting can be found here (only $36)…

The wines to be poured are as follows:

Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Reserve Merlot 2005
Reserve Merlot 2006
Reserve Syrah 2005
Reserve Viognier 2007

Dalton Estate Fume Blanc 2007
Dalton Alma (Bordeaux blend) 2007
Dalton Zinfandel 2006

And two special not (yet) commercially available wines — Super Premium 2006 and Muscat 2006

Should be a special evening.  I’ll be there…will you???

Happy (one handed) special Israeli wine tasting!

WTG

Phishin & Sippin’

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Tonight I was out on Jones Beach to see Phish…

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NEXT Thursday night I’ll be at the JCC tasting some fine Israeli wine

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If you have not tried an Israeli wine, or more specifically a Carmel wine lately, and you’ll be in the NYC area, you really MUST come check it out.  4 whites & 4 reds…light refreshments… for only $20/25…how can you go wrong?!?

Hope to see you there.

Happy Phishing & Carmel Wine Sipping…

WTG

“Map-It ™ Because Place Matters”

Monday, May 18th, 2009

“Place Matters”.  This is what Wine.com is telling us with their latest marketing tool.

Terroir, or the “sense of place” as it is often described, is said to be what distinguishes ordinary, or what I suppose could theoretically be laboratory wines (those manufactured anywhere, and tasting of nowhere), from extraordinary wines; those wines that truly bring you to a specific geographical location through its aromas and flavors.

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The idea of terroir-driven wines makes sense to me in that these wines possess a unique quality.   They might possess that unique smell of saltwater from the parallel ocean, or they might possess a flinty aroma from the flint stones scattered throughout their vineyard.  Or, as is the case with some of the better Israeli wines, they might possess an herbaceous or even green olive quality from all the wild sage, rosemary, thyme and olive groves that grow throughout the country and often surround the vineyard itself.

Getting back to the new wine.com Map-It feature, I wonder how important it is for people to SEE (on a radar image) the location where the wine was made, or better yet (when available) where the grapes were grown.  If it opens up one’s imagination to a story and helps to paint the picture behind the wine for the wine-curious consumer then I guess it is important.

As is generally the case when it comes to my bizarre mind, this all led me to think about Israeli wine.   In this case as it pertains to Israeli wine in retail stores.   Outside of Israel I would venture to say that NYC has the greatest selection of Israeli wines in the world.  But if you are to enter a retail store seeking an Israeli wine do you know where the clerk would take you?  To the KOSHER section.  WHERE in the world is kosher???

There is a section for France.  Italy.  Spain.  US wines are generally grouped together, yet they usually are separated between states.  German wines.  Australian wines…I can go on and on.  Heck, even organic wines are USUALLY found in a section pertaining to their country of origin (though some stores ALSO have a special organic section).  So why does just about every store in the region with the 2nd largest concentration of Israeli wines group these wines together with other wines from all over the world??

What of those wines made in Israel that do not have kosher certification??

Why not create a section for Israeli wines (they should be contained within an Eastern Mediterranean section near wines from Greece, Cyprus & Lebanon) AS WELL AS a kosher section just as is done with organic wines???

Clearly I am a very biased observer here.  But the more I read about how trendy terroir is and how important a “sense of place” is when it comes to wine the more I wonder, why not for Israel????

Happy terroir driven wine tasting!

WTG

Wine Sales are down – Israeli wine too

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Globes, “Israel’s Business Arena” reports that Passover wine sales are expected to drop.

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It is reporting on wine sales in Israel, but I have heard that sales here (In NY at least) have been soft so far.  I have heard/seen/read reports that as much as 50% (or more) of annual kosher wine sales occurs in the weeks leading up to Passover.  And with the economic conditions as they are, it appears that wine sales are suffering.

I must confess that the Israeli wines I have been pouring for store owners has been very well received.  But the customers still need to come in and buy the bottles.

So my post today is a plea.  No matter your race, religion, color, etc (ok , age does matter, please be over 21) go out in the next two weeks to your local wine shop and buy a bottle of israeli wine to commemorate Passover (the first Seder is on April 8th).  There is some really good stuff coming out of Israel these days (my Passover recommendations are coming soon), and while it isn’t cheap, the better wines are damn good and actually pretty darned good values.

Happy Passover time Israeli wine tasting!

WTG

Look who’s blogging

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Friend and Israeli wine industry contact Alex Haruni is blogging!

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Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging Alex.

This is a noteworthy event (in my very humble opinion) as the topic of Israeli websites and Israeli winery marketing has come up amongst insiders.  And the consensus is that these wineries are missing the boat.  The internet has provided these wineries a tool to reach and communicate with potential customers that for the most part is not being utilized (or is being underutilized).

The new site and blog posts by Dalton & Haruni are certainly a step in the right direction.

Looking forward to some insightful reading.  Best of luck with it Alex!

Happy Israeli wine tasting (and reading)!

WTG