Wine Talk

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - The writer has ad­vanced Is­raeli wines for over 30 years and is re­ferred to as the English voice of Is­raeli wines. www.adammon­te­

Rosh Hashanah is upon us again. The wine trade ea­gerly awaits the hol­i­days be­cause they are when the wine sales boom. The con­sumer also en­joys what is a buyer’s mar­ket be­cause the pro­mo­tions and spe­cial of­fers are at their peak. Many peo­ple find wine buy­ing an or­deal. But re­mem­ber, you have to pur­chase only one or two wines – com­pare that to the num­ber of food items you will need to buy.

When you are look­ing for the right wine, go in with a fixed idea of how much you want to spend. Wine shops are worth a spe­cial visit be­cause of the ex­tra ser­vice, but you can find a great range of excellent wines in some su­per­mar­kets th­ese days, too. If you are al­ready there to buy milk, take time to browse the wine shelves.

By all means look for the good price, but al­ways re­mem­ber the cheap­est wine may not be the best value. There may be a rea­son a wine is dis­counted so heav­ily. It may be old wine that has not sold through. Fur­ther­more, the fixed costs of a wine (bot­tle, cork, cap­sule and la­bel) are rea­son­ably sim­i­lar. So, the dif­fer­ence be­tween a wine of NIS 20 and NIS 40 is the wine it­self.

How­ever, do not feel bad about buy­ing cheap. Noth­ing makes my blood boil more than the wine snob who is dis­parag­ing about cheap wines. Yet many are great drink­ing wines, es­pe­cially for the price. You don’t need to taste ev­ery wine like a som­me­lier or have a sym­po­sium giv­ing opin­ions of the ex­perts like shar­ing gold among the min­ions, whom one is hop­ing to im­press. Some­times the wine does not have to be on a pedestal. It is on the ta­ble like the salt and pep­per and en­joyed as an in­te­gral part of a meal, but in the back­ground.

Most winos will curl up at the idea of sweet wines, and it is true there is a big move away from sweet kid­dush wines to grape juice and dry ta­ble wines. How­ever, Rosh Hashanah is the fes­ti­val where one should have a sweet wine for the rit­ual part of the meal, along with the ap­ple and honey, to ex­press our hope for a sweet year. No need to fo­cus on a kid­dush wine, but to match this spe­cial oc­ca­sion choose a dessert wine; just serve it ice cold, so it is palat­able.

I rec­om­mend a few wines for the hol­i­day meals, from a broad range of winer­ies in a wide range of wine styles.


This is the near­est we have to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Very aro­matic, lash­ings of trop­i­cal fruit and a palate-cut­ting acid­ity make it a very re­fresh­ing op­tion to go with grilled fish or meze. It will also go well with baked veg­eta­bles and goat’s cheese. Tabor’s wines, par­tic­u­larly their whites, rep­re­sent great value. NIS 60


A mod­ern style Chardonnay, de­signed to be re­fresh­ing and good with food. Half the fi­nal blend was aged on its lees in oak, and half in stain­less steel. The re­sult is a fresher style, where the oak does not take over, though it is ap­par­ent and gives the wine body. Recanati Win­ery is one of our most suc­cess­ful com­mer­cial winer­ies, with re­gard to in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion. NIS 59


This crisp wine has notes of un­ripe ap­ple, zesty lime, a hint of flo­ral notes, and an un­der­ly­ing min­er­al­ity. It is re­fresh­ing with very good acid­ity. Pinot Gris is newish in Is­rael, and this is one of the bet­ter ones. This is the Is­rael ver­sion of a grape va­ri­ety very pop­u­lar abroad un­der the name Pinot Gri­gio. The Golan Heights Win­ery is the pi­o­neer­ing win­ery of Is­rael and it led the wine qual­ity rev­o­lu­tion. NIS 75


Vikin Win­ery is a pi­o­neer of lesser known, more ex­otic grape va­ri­eties. Now it has done it again with this Grenache Blanc. Peo­ple usu­ally are more fa­mil­iar with the red Grenache. Why I like this wine: it does not have the bowl­ful of trop­i­cal fruit that most Is­raeli whites have. The aro­mas are del­i­cate and sub­dued, the mouth feel is broad and com­plex. Vitkin Win­ery is fam­ily owned, with an in­ven­tive, cre­ative wine­maker called As­saf Paz. One of our best. NIS 130


A de­light­ful rosé. Lightly pink, del­i­cate aroma, crisp fla­vor and a good, re­fresh­ing acid­ity. It is pro­duced by 1848 Win­ery, un­der­rated but fast im­prov­ing. 1848 Win­ery is a premium win­ery owned by Yossi Shor. The Shor fam­ily has been mak­ing wine for eight gen­er­a­tions of wine­mak­ing over 170 years. Their fam­ily win­ery was orig­i­nally founded in... you got it, in 1848 in the Old City of Jerusalem. NIS 60


I have long been a be­liever in semi-sweet wines for the many that look for them. This is a new brand from Carmel based on the phrase “mo­ments of joy.” The wine is a semi-sweet red. If this is what you are look­ing for, go for it, with no fear of what oth­ers may think. Af­ter all, Rosh Hashanah is a fes­ti­val of sweet things, and though a top-class dessert wine would re­ally fit the bill, this is a more rea­son­ably priced al­ter­na­tive. Carmel is the his­toric win­ery of Is­rael. NIS 35


Don’t be put off by the os­ten­ta­tious bot­tle. This is a very drink­able, good-value Cabernet, full of fla­vor, medium-bod­ied and tasty. Hayotzer Win­ery is also owned by the Shor fam­ily, but an­other branch. To­day there are five winer­ies owned by this spe­cial fam­ily. NIS 45


An in­ter­est­ing blend from Galil Moun­tain Win­ery, which is sit­u­ated at Kib­butz Yiron. This is made from Syrah, Bar­bera and a lit­tle Petit Ver­dot. It had a cherry-berry aroma, plummy fruit, good acid­ity with a fla­vor-led fin­ish. NIS 60


Castel has been a win­ery that has helped Is­rael reach the high­est level in terms of in­ter­na­tional third-party recog­ni­tion. Those who wish to sam­ple Castel, but do not pay big bucks for wine, this is your op­por­tu­nity. The wine is mainly Cabernet, Mer­lot with a lit­tle Petit Ver­dot. It is medium-bod­ied, well bal­anced and has a re­fresh­ing qual­ity that de­mands an­other glass. NIS 75


Kishor is a win­ery that is part of the Kishorit vil­lage, which serves adults with spe­cial needs. It is one of the few gen­uine es­tate winer­ies. Its wines have ele­gance and are well de­fined. I love the GSM – Grenache Syrah Mourve­dre. Fruity, spicy and re­fresh­ing. Serve this slightly chilled. NIS 95


MAIA spe­cial­izes in Mediter­ranean wines, and this is a blend of Carig­nan, Syrah and Du­rif (Pe­tite Si­rah). It is a joint ven­ture be­tween the wine­maker and two fa­mous Greek con­sul­tants who are in­volved with this project. It is a full-fla­vored wine with plenty of red berry fruit, a smoked meat char­ac­ter and a nicely de­fined fin­ish. NIS 135


This comes from one of the best Mer­lot re­gions. The wine is from Har Bracha in the Cen­tral Moun­tains. The wine is rich, plush, full-bod­ied and vel­vety. Aro­mas of ripe plumb and black­berry fruit are sup­ported by an oaky back­drop which gives body and depth. Good wine, but big. NIS 129


This is a Bordeaux-style blend made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Mer­lot and Petit Ver­dot from a win­ery sit­u­ated in the Cen­tral Moun­tains. It is full-fla­vored with clas­sic aro­mas of cas­sis and black­berry, yet it has a well-de­fined ele­gance in the mouth and a pleas­ing fin­ish. Well made, good qual­ity and very drink­able. NIS 90


This is a rein­car­na­tion of the Yatir Syrah as a blend. It is still mainly Syrah, with a lit­tle Tan­nat and Mal­bec. The fruit is up front, and not lack­ing in any way, but the wine is also spicy with some sa­vory notes and an at­trac­tive bit­ter­ness that pre­vents it from be­ing jammy. Yatir Win­ery is sit­u­ated in the north­east­ern Negev, but its vine­yards lie within Yatir For­est, Is­rael’s planted for­est. NIS 150


Petit Ver­dot is a Bordeaux va­ri­ety that of­ten fails to ripen there, but there are no such prob­lems in Is­rael. The va­ri­ety has be­come very well used as a blender here. This is a rare va­ri­etal Petit Ver­dot. To me the fruit is sim­i­lar to Cabernet, just big­ger, blacker and more pow­er­ful, but it is great ex­am­ple for those want­ing to sam­ple Petit Ver­dot for the first time. Matar is the kosher brand of the Pel­ter Win­ery. NIS 160

Wish­ing you en­joy­able wine time this Rosh Hashanah and a happy and sweet New Year. Shana Tova!

(Tura Win­ery)

THE CEN­TRAL Moun­tains is one of the best re­gions for Mer­lot; Tura Win­ery’s Mer­lot vine­yard is at Har Bracha. • ADAM MONTEFIORE

(Pho­tos: Winer­ies men­tioned)

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