8 Buyers, 1 Store, 8000 Wines

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

With over 400 wineries in Israel, most of them boutique (meaning pretty tiny), and with a steady flow of these wines becoming available in the US at restaurants, this may be a good time to take note and try the wines coming from Israel. Although Israel was under vine throughout antiquity to roughly 600 CE, vines were not replanted until the 1840’s. The 1980’s were considered the Quality Revolution, and in the 1990’s the Boutique Revolution started to take shape. We may now be in the adolescence of Israeli wine, but one thing that is for sure is that Israeli wine seems to improve with each vintage.

Throughout the five major wine regions of Galilee, Shomron (Samaria), Shimshon (Samson), Judean Hills, and the Negev (with smaller designations to come), dedicated winemakers are getting a handle on their terroir, and figuring out the uniqueness of their land, what grape varietals work, and what makes their wines distinct. With more wines from Israel available in the US on a regular basis, our job at 67 Wine is to filter these wines and offer what we consider to be the most enjoyable and distinct. We are fans of drinking Israeli wine all year round, but since wine plays an important role in Jewish festivities, we look forward to holidays and view it as the perfect opportunity to delve into these new wines, plan wine pairings, experiment, and impress guests and customers with the new, the weird and wonderful. With Passover around the corner, here is my suggestion of wines to try, with two wines that are brand new ones and three steady  favorites. They are:
-Ramot Naftali Shiraz 2010 (Kedesh Valley, Upper Galilee) A light and zippy dry Shiraz. It has bright fruit and vibrant acidity and is not too heavy on the palate. Hand harvested. 100 cases produced.

The winery is in the Kedesh Valley of the Upper Galilee between Moshav Ramot Naftaly
and Moshav Dishon. It is an area surrounded by high mountainous range that protects the area
from wind. An archaeological excavation between the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota suggest that the area was home to vineyards and winemaking in ancient times.

-Agur Layam 2010 50% Syrah, 50% Mourvedre An intriguing wine of medium body with herbal, fresh and earthy notes. The winery is in Moshav Agur, in the heart of the Judean Shephelah hills, it produces 3,000 bottles/yr.
-Tzora Judean Hills Red 2010  65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot, 10% Syrah. Medium bodied, well balanced with dark fruit yet lively acidity. Aged 12 months in French oak.
Tzora Vineyards believes in balance and minimal intervention. Their terroir is made up of steep terraces cut into the Judean Hills of mineral rich limestone soil. A wide diurnal range in temperatures helps the grapes ripen slowly and maintain acidity.
-Domaine Netofa 2011 (Galilee) Grenache & Mourvedre adapt well to the Mediteranean climate of the lower Galilee.  A medium bodied wine, with dark fruit, some pleasing herbaciousness and soft tannins. Winemaker Pierre Miodownick lends his three decades of French winemaking experience and solid effort to his Israeli wines. This is his Netofa’s entry-level wine.
-CastelGrand Vin 2009 (Judean Hills) As classic as a Bordeaux blend, yet grown in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. Handpicked Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, and Malbec are aged in new French oak barrels for 20 to 24 months. Pretty, full bodied, and dark fruited with cassis and liquorish aromas. This wine is youthful, so I recommend either decanting or aging (another 5-10 years).
-Sadie Flateman


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