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13 January, 201013 January, 2010 0 comments wine wine

 

    Behind every good winery there's typically a good story.  Since the Flam Winery is considered one of Israel's best wineries, it's only natural it has one of the most compelling stories. The winery was started humbly in 1998 by brothers Golan & Gilad Flam. In their first vintage they only made a couple of barrels of wine, one of Cabernet Sauvignon and one of Merlot.  Now that's how many family wineries start and many if not most never get too much bigger although this wasn't any average family of vintners.

 

dsr and Golan Flam

David Rhodes becomes a fan of winemaker Golan Flam and his wines

 

    After graduating with a degree in agricultural studies at Hebrew University Rehovet, Golan Flam furthered his studies as a winemaker while becoming a Master of Wine in Piacenza, Italy and then while serving a full year's intership at the Carpineto Winery in Italy's romantic Tuscany witnessing and

22 December, 200922 December, 2009 0 comments wine wine

        It's less challenging to write about a winery no one has heard of rather than one that comes up as one of the first in any serious conversaton about wines. In Israel, Domaine du Castel is one of those well discussed and written about wineries and at the top of most critics lists for having some of Israel's best world class wines. Now writing about a well written winery does make it  easier during initial research on your subject but the tricky part is how to make it fresh and interesting in the final proof for a reader who may have read a previously published article and still engage a novice who remains one of the few and fewer who've yet to become acquainted with the winemaker and his craft.

   I was anxiously awaiting my return to Castel as locals call the winery. It had been about a year since I first visited as a producer/interviewer with a TV crew from NTDTV, an international TV network out of New York that broadcasts throughout Asia and North America by sattlelite in English and Chinese mainly to Chinese expatriates (there's 100's of millions as it so happens).  We had spent two days filming and hours each day doing interviews so we each had an opprtunity to become very familiar with each other. At that time I had creditials as a journalist and a wine expert but not too much as a wine journalist and the piece we did with each other probably opened up more doors

21 December, 200921 December, 2009 0 comments wine wine

I love finding wineries off the beaten path. By off the beaten path for me I mean wineries that haven't had much publicity in English or have been underrated by other writers who've written up their wines. The Alona Winery is one such Israeli winery.  Located just southeast of Zichron Ya'acov (Israel's most well known wine village) in Givat Nilli in it's namesake Alona valley, this small winery has been making it's impact known with Israel's Hebrew speaking wine connoisseurs .  For a winery that only bottles about 6,000 individual units of liquid joy, it's garnered several meaningful accolades by pretigious wine judge panels that trancends mediocre reviews by a any individual critic or reviewer.

Starting less than a decade ago (established in 2001) , the winery's Alona Merlot won a gold medal in 2006 at the annual international Terravino competition held in Eilat.

The next year, 2007, their Merlot, won a double gold and propelled the winery to win  "Best Small Boutique Winery in Israel"


This year, 2009,  their Cabernet Sauvignon was recognized with a silver medal showing that even though this region has gained a reputation for making Merlot wines with distinctive quality that desirable Cabernet Sauvignon's are still possible.

The wines are quite affordable for an award winning boutique wines selling at 75 NIS (about $20 as of this w

20 December, 200920 December, 2009 0 comments wine wine

Like in most world wine regions there's a host of themes of how people get into winemaking. There's the industrialists who make oceans of wine, there are the artists who make small but often amazingly well crafted batches of bliss and then are growers who evolved into winemakers after seeing their crops being utilized for much higher profits than they ever realized just selling their grapes.

The Red Poetry Winery is one of these grower launched ventures. Located on the windward side of the Judean Hills, the vineyards of the winery sits among fields of figs, peaches, nectarines, olive groves and a variety of table grapes.

 

2007 Red Stains

100% Carignan from 30 year old vines

aged with 1 year old barrels for about 18 months

 

very fruity and very expressive with apparent yet fairly soft tannins showing great aging potential

 

2007 Aronson

Mourvedre 75% & Syrah 25% reminiscent of a southern Rhone Valley blend

a much lighter earthier wine with Syrah being predominant on the nose which seemingly is becoming a common element in blends in this region

 

2007 Erlich

Syrah 40%, Merlot 40% with the remaing 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot

11 December, 200911 December, 2009 0 comments Uncategorized Uncategorized

Not only does the Saslove Winery make some of Israel's best wines, they also throw some of the most hospitable tastings. On Friday,December 11th they hosted their yearly preview of what wines were maturing in their barrels. There was a lot of treats for their club members and those lucky few to get invitations (like me).   Israel's most notable father/daughter winemaking team, Barry & Roni Saslove, were both captiviating speakers as they seemed to enthrall the attendees interchangebly in Hebrew and English.

 

Barry's been making wine in Israel since 1991 and his middle daughter Roni has been involved in every vintage since with her contributions becoming more and more signifcant as the years have gone by. The last seven she's graduated from being a helper to that a contributing winemaker and last year she took a year's sabbatical from the winery to further her studies spending a year in Canada at Brock University in an advanced oenology and viniculture program. So now even at the relatively young age of 32 her 17 years of experience

Fridays and Saturdays

11 November, 200911 November, 2009 0 comments wine wine

     Well, the third Thursday of November has come and gone and as many wine lovers around the world are aware that means it's time for the release of France's Beaujolais Noveau. This wine's release has become a big hit in the United States as this tradition has been tied into Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. Beaujolais Noveau isn't thought to be one of the world's premier wines (selling for about $12 or 35 NIS/bottle)  but they are the first release of every year and it's more about a celebration of the harvest and drinking a fruity youthful uncomplicated yet fun wine than a wine meant to impress wine snobs.

      In Israel, on Thursday November 19th three of Israel's largest wineries released their version of a Beaujolais Noveau style wine released as the first 2009 vintage release of their respective wineries just weeks after the grapes were harvested. All three wines are kosher and available only in Israel.  Each winery has it's own take on how to make a young, fun & fruity red wine meant to be drunk now and not later and chilled, yes a red wine designed to be chilled.  Being a light but fruity yet chilled wine these wines will be tend to match well with fried fare, lighter cheeses, tomato based dishes, grilled vegetables and roast chicken

8 November, 20098 November, 2009 0 comments wine wine

 

    All over the wine world, it's very common for wineries to pass from one generation to the next from father to son. What's far less common but becoming less of a surprise is a winery passing down from father to daughter.  Roni Saslove, the middle daughter of Barry Saslove, is one such prodigy. Though the winemaking today is a team effort between Barry and Roni, she has secured her place as the Saslove Winery's heir apparent and every vintage she manages to make the Saslove Wines as much of a reflection of her own passion for wines as that of her father. .

 

Roni Saslove

winemaker Roni Saslove takes great pride in their premium oak barrels

 

    Barry Saslove, a Canadian immigrant to Israel, started the winery in 1991. It was a humble beginning processing only 100 kilos of grapes it's first vintage compared to 80,000 bottles/year they make today. In 1991 their low tech non-commercial effort involved pressing their grapes through stomping the grapes.  Barry was a computer programmer whose curiousity had him flirting with winemaking. As his interest peaked, he took wine courses at UC Davis that would spark 18 vintages of fine wine making each year be

28 October, 200928 October, 2009 0 comments wine wine

October 28th, 2009

      Today, I made my way back to the Recanati Winery located in Emek Hefer, Israel. Recanati is celebrating a banner crop this year exceeding 1,000 metric tons of grapes in the 2009 harvest in contrast to about 800 tons harvested for the 2008 vintage.  Higher yields were evident throughout Recanati's Upper Galilee & Jerusalem vineyards. Higher yields are typically more preferable in grapes destined for their value Recanati and Yasmin series wines than grapes destined for their higher quality wines. Although, these higher quality grapes still experienced higher yields, the yields were still within the spectrum of yields desirable for flavor, color and tannins expected of their quality wines (about 1 ton to 1.2 tons per dunam... a dunam is about 1/4 of an acre... and not the 4 tons per dunam destined for bulk wines). An increase in the quanity of quality grapes assures better Recanati wines through their whole series as much of this juice filters as free-run juice in their higher series to additional pressings in their lower series. So if the winery commits to keeping production of their higher series at about the same most of the 2009 wines should benefit. Recanati consumers should look forward to enjoy

20 October, 200920 October, 2009 0 comments wine wine

 

    Once again, I had the distinct honor and priviledge to spend the day with noted winemaker Asaf Margalit from the renown Margalit Winery. Over the last year, I've met with Asaf about a dozen times and each time I walked away more impressed with Asaf as a winemaker and Margalit wines are etched into my mind as some of the most expressive and dynamic wines I've ever tasted.

    One of the primary reasons Margalit wines are so good is their source materials.  The vineyards the Margalit's have acquired in Binyamina and especially their Kadita vineyard in the Upper Galilee are some of the most envied vines in Israel.  As most winemakers will tell you, 75% to 95% (it's a very subjective estimation) of what makes a wine good or great started in the vineyard. As the saying goes "you can make bad wine out of good grapes but you can't make good or great wine out of bad grapes." And the Margalits have built an amazing reputation over 20 vintages by starting each wine from great grapes.

     The quality of the grapes the Margalit family uses to make their wines shouldn't discount the talent of the father & son team of Ya'ir and Asaf Margalit. Ya'ir, who studied high speed fermentation at UC Davis,

14 October, 200914 October, 2009 0 comments Uncategorized Uncategorized

    As you begin to learn about wine you might find it confusing reading a wine label whether it's from Israel or somewhere else.  One reason is labeling laws and designations differ from country to country and sometimes region to region within a country or some terms even winery to winery. As a whole, a label can be confounding to the uninitiated but if you break the label down into common factors you'll find the information more enlightening than mystifying.

 

Varietal: is a term that refers to what grape specifically was used to make a wine. in Israel as in other New World wine regions, at least 85% of the grape listed on the front label must be in the wine and at least the second major grape must be lited on the back label. If no grape varietal is listed on the label it's most often a blend with the most significant grape being less than 85%


In Israel, common Red varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carignan, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah Cabernet Franc  & Muscat Hamburg


Common white varietals are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Emerald Riesl

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DavidRhodes
Posts: 54
Comments: 59
David Rhodes worked at wineries in California & Israel, hosted over 100 wine parties.as a sommelier & adviser for the SDSU Business of Wine program. He speaks weekly about wine on Rustymikeradio.com & writes for ESRA magazine. Israeliwineguy@gmail.com

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