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DavidRhodes / wine - Posts
Today, I got to visit for my old friends (comparatively speaking in Israel) at Recanati. I thoroughly enjoy talking about wineries of their ilk because Recanati does a great job making great wines at different price points and their wines seem to get better year after year ( and they're only 20 minutes from where I live ttoo). This visit had some special significance because it was my first official tasting of their 2008 premium wines outside of tasting at events when there's too much additional stimulation to appreciate a wine without distraction and with the insight from the winemakers how they got to what your tasting in the glass.
The 2008 vintage wines have a special meaning at Recanati because the team of winemakers changed and this was their first vintage to see how the change reflected in the wines. The entry level reds of 2008 have been out a while but the higher end 2008's (Reserve now and the Special Reserve Red not too far down the road) which were aged longer are now on the shelves and there are noticable differences from previous incarnations.
There are usually unsong heros in most wine regions: winemakers and grape growers whose reputation and reknown haven't yet met the level of their contributions to the scene. One such unsung hero in Israeli wine is Paul Dubb. He's not unknown in Israel among other winemakers but he's not the first name mentioned in wine circles overseas or among Israeli wine consumers when Israeli wine is mentioned. He should be more often than not. Paul is making some impressive wines at reasonable prices at the Tzuba Winery located in the Jerusalem Hills on the outskirts of the "Holy City". Paul has not only has made an impact at Tzuba but has made a ripple in the Israeli wine pond as he's matured as a winemaker and vintner.
Paul was trained as vitaculturist in his native South Africa and helped Kfar Tzuba plant its first vines in the 1997. It was several years later in 2005 that the winery opened on the same named kibbutz (collective farm) its is located on. Paul was managing the vineyards from the start but after a kibbutznik served as the initial winemaker for the first two years, Paul grew into that role and proved to be a great fit. Even though Paul was never formally trained as a winemaker, he had been making dry wines since he was 16 and had always studied periphial studies that led him towards becoming a remarkable winemaker.
Located on Kibbutz Eyal (on the outskirts Kfar Sava) within a few steps of the well-established and prestigious Saslove Winery is Avidan. Less well known than it's neighbor, Avidan is rightfully and rapidly gaining it's own notoriety for the quality and unique character of their wines. Like it's neighbor, Avidan is a family affair.
Shlomo Avidan, who was the initial winemaker and studied under the iconic Ya'ir Margalit now manages the vineyards. Tsina Avidan, his wife, has grown into the role of winemaker. Their daughter Shira focuses on marketing but all three work as a team and make many of the decisions together. Seemingly, its a formula that works well as their wines get rave reviews that might incite envy from many larger or longer established wineries. Shlomo's position as one of the managers of Discount Bank gives them the financial freedom to make wines the way they want to and not just to satisfy market demands. That being said they've grown from a garage winery started in Ra'anana in 2000 to a viable commercial boutique winery in 2004 when they moved to Kibbutz Eyal. Avidan now produces about 25,000 to 30,000 bottles a year.
Avidan's wines are a delight for a wine geek like me and anyone who wants to see traditional wines made with a flare or non-traditional wines made well enough to draw the praise of
Mostly every winery has a story worth telling. I'd venture to say that wineries with the most interesting stories often make the most interesting wines. One winery whose story pulls on the heart strings as well as pleases the palette is the Tulip Winery. Located in Kfar Tikva ( Hebrew for "village of hope"), this family owned winery is gaining more and more fans for their wines every year; yet, sometimes their inspiring story overshadows their delicious wines.
Kfar Tikva is a village founded about 40 years ago dedicated to assisted living for disability challenged adults. All residents are over 21 and have employment opportunities in the village. Their primary employer is a Sabbath candle factory although the Tulip Winery also employs 5 residents (or about half their staff) in various roles about their facility.
Regardless of who is working at the winery, purchasing their wine shouldn't be seen solely as a charitable act unless your taste buds are your favorite charity.
Founded in 2003 by the Itzhaki family (who lives nearby) they've secured the services of Israeli winemaker Tamir Arzy.
They currently have about four series of wines (depending on how you count them) and comparitive value can be found at each level.
Their introductory (less-expensive wines) are their Just Series. The Just wines are 100% single varietals so they're great educational tools f
Last night I attended for my first time, the Ramit Aviv Wine Festival at the Haaretz Museum (just north of Tel Aviv). It's the largest annual festival in Tel Aviv slated specifically towards the public attending. The musuem gardens, accented by lit olive trees, provided the perfect back drop for dozens of wineries offereing more than 100 wines for guests to sample. The event goes on for two evenings culimating this evening from 6 until 11PM. The cost is 59 NIS (about $17) for unlimited tastings. Several food vendors were selling fresh sushi, piping hot and tasty pizzas to order, pretzals and best all a wide assortment of gourmet kosher cheese plates.
The experience is well worth the price of admission. Several of Issrael's largest wineries are participating. The Carmel Winery , Israel's largest, is offering their appelation series wines which in their several series is situated in the lower end of their high end or the high end of their lower but definetly provide some of their best value wines. Their Cabernet Franc is one of favorites in this series because it's onr of the least expensive Cabernet Franc's in Israel but still provides the drinker with enough varietal characteristics to develop a taste for this ever more popular Israeli version of a Bordeaux varietal.
The Barkan Winery,
Italian food for many is comfort food when traveling overseas. Although trying local cuisines appeal to many tourists, many are easily discouraged and steer towards more familiar fare. Italian food is a staple for American diners and can be a safe bet for them dining out in Israel. Pasta aficionados will even find selections at many Israeli coffee shops but they will need to be more selective to experience a memorable meal.
One place sure to illicit interest and a return visit is the Italiana Nella Stazione (which also goes by Italkia Ba'Tachana... the Hebrew transliteration literally meaning "Italian in the station"). Specializing in Southern Italian Cuisine and Seafood, this new restaurant offers a lot of promise for tourists who want a delicious meal in a scenic local. The aforementioned station is a new development renovated from what was a historic railroad station and industrial park in Tel Aviv, a short walk south to Jaffa, the newly gentrified Neve Tzedik neighborhood and Tel Aviv's ritziest hotels along it's southern beachfront. Showcasing fashion boutique, custom jewelers art galleries and other destination tenants, the station is like a premium outdoor mall and well worth exploring. The restaurant is nestled right in the middle of the complex in what was presumed to be a converted residence. It's a rustic buildin
The Levahn Festival (Levahn is Hebrew for white) is returning to the Herzliya Marina for it's second year. Last year, israel's first and only wine festival focusing on white wines, roses and sparkling wines attracted about 6000 people over two nights. This year their expecting more visitors so they've doubled their space. Instead of bartenders manning pouring stations seperated by wine types, each winery this year will por tastings and sell their own wines
When you visit Israel, explore the idea of trying out the local wines. Israeli wine has been undergoing a revolution lately and have received great reviews by many internationally recognized wine magazines (such as Wine Spectator in the US and Decanter Magazine in the UK) and critics (Hugh Johnson, Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson). One affordable way to try several Israeli wines is to have a personal tasting at your hotel or during a dinner along your travels here in israel.
Having a tasting at dinner or at your hotel can help you save time to visit other historical sites while in Israel (as there are so many) and can allow you to try some of Israel's best wines that don't have vistor centers.
Another option is to travel to a winery or two or three here in israel. There's over 256 although many don't have interesting visitors centers some do and I have many relationships witht the wineries to get you VIP treatment on these visits.
If you enjoy wine and want to make it part of your trip. Let's explore how we can do it together.
You can listen to my weekly wine show on Israeli wine on Rustymikeradio.com as well as listen to my more than 30 podcasts.
Or check out my over 50 articles on wine here on Travelujah,com
Did you know the first recorded mention of a wine in the world was that of Noah planting a
As one enter's the wine village of Zichron Ya'acov on Richov (street) Hameyasdim there's a treat for those who plan ahead. The Smadar Winery is small and quaint as well as set back off Zichron's main street with little signage to tell a tourist there's a winery to visit nearby. But it's more than just a winery. For those interested, it's an all encmpassing experience, The winery is adjacent to a spa & a bed and breakfast that the family manages. So not only can you taste their wines (well worth the visit) but you can also stay overnight, swim in their heated pool or get a massage.
The family has been living in this spot since they moved to Israel in 1882 when a wave of Jewish Romanian immigrants oved to the area specifially to works vines to produce wine. The family now is on their fifth genreation of growers and winemakers though commercially having been making wine in 1998. Motti, the owner and winemaker, is the great-grandson of the original growers who settled here and his daughter,Smadar, runs many of the tests in the winery's lab. Motti studied winemaking under Yair Marglait for 1 year in 1998 in Tel Hai.
The family man
After over a millenium of Islamic rule, Zichron Ya'acov became the launching point of Israel's resurgence as a modern wine growing region back in 1882 when Baron Edmund Rothschild supported Jewish Romanian immigrants to move to the region to work vineyards for the Carmel Winery, a collective of growers which became and remains Israel's largest winery (producing 15 million bottles of the 50 million bottles or about 30% of what Israel produces every year). The Carmel collective consists of over 300 independant growers and some of them like the Dahan family, owners of the Somek Winery, has gone on to create their own wineries in addtion to grapes they grow that they sell to Carmel or other wineries.
The Somek family has been growing grapes in Israel since 1882
The Somek Winery is located on a residential lot in the center of Zichron Ya'acov ( as are a few other boutique wienries). Their family has been growing wine grapes as well as other fruit in Israel since arriving in the first wave of Aliyah (the return of Jews to Israel) in 1882 (many of which were Jews escaping systematic massacres or pogroms occurring in Eastern Europe).
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