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DavidRhodes / Uncategorized - Posts
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
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
The Golan Heights Winery, for the last twenty years, has been one of the most influential wineries in Israel. Having been cited as the winery that sparked the quality wine revolution in Israel, Golan Heights has grown into the third largest producer of wine in the Holy Land but maybe should be rightly known as the largest producer of consistently good wines. Under their flagship label Yarden (Hebrew for "Jordan" as in the Jordan River), this winery has paved the way for Israeli wines into more resturants' wine lists internationaly and more wine magazines than maybe any other Israeli winery. That's not to say necessarily that they make the best wine in Israel. They might but there's now plenty of competition to that elusive prize however, the case can easily be made that make more well respected wine than any other Israeli winery and that for the last 25 years they blazed the trail for many smaller producers by showing the potential for which grapes could make great wines in Israel.
Additionally, Golan Heights under it's various labels, may account for the largest selection of varietals being made by one winery in Israel. It's vineyard locations situ
The white French Columbard grape (often called just Columbard elsewhere) plays many roles in Israeli wine production. It is the most planted white wine grape in Israel and noted for being suited to warmer climates. It's used in many white blends, as the base for sparkling wine or even brandy but has yet to make a name center stage such as a featured single varietal like it's white counterparts: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Muscat of Alexandria, Viognier or Gerwurztraminer.
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