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March 1, 2009March 1, 2009  1 comments  wine

     The Margalit Winery started as a boutique winery in 1989 and has established itself as one of Israel's most respected wine farms.  Located south of Hadera, in the Sharon region, in the foothills of Mount Carmel, the unpretentious surroundings amidst citrus orchards would never give a hint of the superb quality and outstanding reputation (well-deserved) attained by these family vintners, Ya'ir and Assaf Margalit

     In their first release in the 1989, the winery released a modest 900 bottles or about 3 barrels of wine. They growed gradually, though steady, to a current production of 20,000 bottles a year or about 1600 cases.  Many wineries have grown much larger in a 20 year span but it's the family's committment to quality over quanity that has cemented it's name as one of Israel's premier wineries.

     I recently had a chance to meet with Assaf and sample some his works in progress. He tastes his wines every two weeks to ascertain how they're aging and to gauge how he might blend them.  On this occasion, he invited winemakers from a larger commercial winery for the informal tasting. While some winemakers are more guarded about their craft, Assaf is quite generous in the amount of time he gives to aspiring winemakers, sommeliers and wine writers as my case might illustrate.  He mentors those who even if they've gone to work for would be competitors and seems open minded towards suggestions from those he respects in the industry.   Not that he needs their advice but I believe he  and his father, as do I, see wine as an intellectual pursuit as much as a career or craft and he enjoys the banter about wine as much as the process and results.

     Earlier, in what would prove to be just my first of many visits with Asaf we visited with one of his previous interns who is helping the Depawn Winery in it's fledgling stages.  This garagista looked like any other rural house on approach but touring about one saw a secluded lab and a tempeture controlled barrel room (attached to the owner's house) able to secure some blessed vintages as they mature.  Assaf was kind with his praise and constructive with his criticism which has gained him obvious affection and respect among others in the field.  Winemakers are as much artists as scientists and engineers and need reassurance when things go right and even more encouragement and guidance when things go wrong. No, winemaker wants to wait for the market's feedback because it will be of little use once the wine is made because next years wine will be different even if just subtlely. Different vintage, different grapes, different wine. 

     He and his father/founder Ya'ir (who I would meet on my second visit)  both give classes all across Israel as far north as Tel Hai along the Lebanon border and  in nearby Tel Aviv. Ya'ir, a chemist by training,  is a respected author on winemaking and wine technology and the books are for sale and use as text books in wine schools globally.  Assaf trained in agricultural studies at Hebrew Univeresity in Israel (which gives him better insight than most about what makes good wines grapes good) as well as training as a winemaker in California. Ya'ir, first had his interest sparked while doing research as a chemist at UC Davis.The proximity to one of the world's best academic wine programs held it's sway and he's been a winemaker in theory or practice ever since.

The wines of Margalit are worth exploring though you may to go to a wine store to purchase them as currently they only open to the public three times a year for special events. This may change if they grow into larger targeted environs more North in Binyamina but few wineries in Israel are so universally praised as Margalit's so if you're a wino at heart you shouldn't be dissappointed.

The Winery divides their production into 3 lines of wines: their premiere Special Reserve, their selection of single varitietal Margalit series, and their newest series Enigma which presents one new Bordeaux blend each year.  In their 2006 Vintage for example, they released their Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a Margalit series Caberent Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (though most years they have also released a Merlot) and that years Enigma: a 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc and 17% Merlot.


Margalit Winery
PO Box 4055

Caesarea, Israel 38900

(972) 050-533-4433

marwine@netvision.net.il

www.marglit-winery.com













March 1, 2009March 1, 2009  1 comments  wine

Cabernet Sauvignon in Israel, like most of the wine world, is the king of red wine grapes.  One of the five blending grapes used in many of the world's most sought after wines in it's original home of the Bordeaux region in France.  It's typically the principal grape blended with any one or more with  the other four (Merlot, Caberent Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot).

In the New World of wine, defined as anywhere outside of traditonal European wine regions, Caberent Sauvignon has broken through the shroud of obsticating French wine labels that most often display the region or vineyard but not the grapes on the label. Used in Israel and other "New World" wine regions most often on it's own to make wine's that are fruit bombs and less nuanced than it's traditional roots in France.  FYI: Many wine regions define a blend as any wine with less than 75% or 85% of one principal grape. So a wine for instance with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot and 5% Petite Verdot might not be considered a blend but marketed as a single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon while a wine with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon 35% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc would be a blend.

 In Israel:

Many notable Israeli wineries are making Bordeaux-type blends as their top-tier reserve wines (such as Domaine du Castel's Grand Vin, Carmel's Limited Edition, Yatir's Yatir Forest and Tishbi's Jonathan Tishbi Reserve Sde Boker ) while others are making Cabernet principals their top tier wines (such as Margalit). Either way, Cabernet plays a major role in most Israeli premier wines.

It is questionable whether in the future for Israel to create a bigger niche in the world wine market if Cabernet Sauvignon will remain the grape most widely associated with Israel although right now Cabernet and Cabernet blends are accounting for the majority of world recognized wines (for now).


Expected Characteristics:

Fruit Flavors: Black Fruit such as Black Currant/Cassis,  Blackberries, Black Cherries  and Plum

Herbal/Vegetative: bell pepper,  olive and green bean

Other flavors: pepper, cinnamon, chocolate, coffee, vanilla and cigar box

 

Food/Flavor affinities:

Apple, pear, blackberry, elderberry, shallot, domestic and wild mushrooms, wild rice, fresh tarragon, basil, mint, green peppercorn, cinnamon, nutmeg,

allspice, nuts with stronger tannins like hazelnut, pecan and walnuts  Most People find tomato or orange sauces clash with Cabernet Sauvignon maybe try Cabernet Franc instead which has higher acidity. * Adapted from Wine & Food Affinities by Karen Johnson


Other Notable Wine Regions: Bordeaux, France, Tuscany ( Super Tuscans) , Italy, California, Washington State, USA, South Africa and Chile


March 9, 2009March 9, 2009  1 comments  wine

Cabernet Franc: Dad Deserves his Props

     OK, here's a good trivia question for you wine geeks: What two grapes have been proven to be the genetic parents of Cabernet Sauvignon?

Answer: Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc

      No one knows exactly when this marriage took place yet it's without question that Cabernet Sauvignon has outshined it's parentage in reputation and demand.  That shouldn't discourage anyone from enjoying both of these noble varietals.

      Anyone within earshot knows I've been a big fan of Cabernet Franc and I think it has the opportunity to become a focal wine grape for Israel.As one of the five Bordeaux red grapes (with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot) and as the noted principal grape in many Loire Valley wines, Cabernet Franc can be found as a part of many of Israel's finest Bordeaux style blends. However, it's a single varietal or principal grape that I believe Cabernet Franc shows it's potential for making a place for Israeli wines on restaurant wine lists around the globe. Where there are thousands of Cabernets and Merlots being produced, Cabernet Franc offerings are slim and few between and no one international region has grab onto it's coattails to get on wine shop shelves and restaurant wine lists. 

     As Sauvignon Blanc opened doors for New Zealand's wines including their Pinot Noir and albec opened up doors for other Argentenian wines (including their Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot) Cabernet Franc might just be Israel's spearhead off the kosher wine shelf to  being situated in more prominent and greater frequency in the highly competive wine list/ shelf placement arena.

    One place that is well acquanted with Cabernet Franc is Long Island, New York. On Long Island, there is some well regarded Cabernet Franc producers who sell mostly to the local population and tourists but the grape is well respected in the region and not just a blending partner and since many Israeli wineries do the majority of their US exporting (which can be as much as 70% of their total exports) to the greater New York/New Jersey market (because of the highist concentration of Jewish residents in the US and the hightest concentration outside of Israel) it seems a natural fit.

Notable Israeli Cabernet Franc Producers: the Chateau Golan, Ella Valley, Gush Etzion, Margalit, Pelter, Psagot, Recanti, Tishbi, Tulip, Vitkin, Yatir, Zemora wineries all provide splendid well reviewed examples of how this grape is coming into it's own in Israel.

Tabor makes a well reviewed Cabernet Franc Rose

 

 

Fruit Flavors & Aromas: black currant, plum, cherries and raspberries

Vegative Flavors & Aromas: herbs, green vegetables: green peppers, green olives, eucalyptus

Food Pairings: Cabernet Franc has many of the same flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon with a lighter body and higher acidity that makes it a much more food friendly choice for the table.  Matches well with grilled vegetables & eggplant, zuchinni, and tomatos as well dishes flavored with thyme, saffron, rosemary and sage.






March 23, 2009March 23, 2009  1 comments  wine

 


Israel is a small country, about the size of New Jersey; but, the world of wine here is even smaller. There's many migrations of winery workers and even winemakers between wineries. Gil Shatzberg, the currrent head winemaker at Recanati Winery, since 2008, previously served as the winemaker at Amphorae wines for seven years , which was considered one of Israel's most promising wineries due to his efforts. Before that he worked at Carmel, Israel's largest winery and at two wineries in California including the reknown Jordan Winery.  Ido Lewinsohn, Recanati's other winemaker, previously interned at the prestigious Margalit Winery under Asaf Margalit and at wineries in Europe and Australia. 

The red wine being sold now is that of founding winemaker, Lewis Pasco, but the whites are all Gil's and both recently won recognition at the Israeli Wine Awards at the David Intercontinetal Hotel in Tel Aviv on March 30th, 2009.


Recanati Line-up

Some Stars from Recaniti Wines including their Award Winning Petite Sirah-Zinfandel

 

The Recanati Winery offers four series of wines: The Yasmine series, the Recanati series, their Reserve and Special Reserve series. All of Recanati wines are made dry with no residual sugar.

Their 2008 whites I tried were a good entry point into understanding what their new winemaker is crafting at Recanati. Although he's 's continuing with the same vineyard program as under Pasco ( growing the same grapes in silmiliar ways), Gil will be pushing for more Old World style (more nuance, less fruit forward) than the wines once offered by Recanati.  It will take a couple of years before all the wines, particualrly the reds show his influence. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, however, are subtle yet savory wines bridging the gap between Old World and New World styles. Less mineral than a Chablis, the Chardonnay shows off a good wine at a good price and why Chardonnays are becoming more and more popular in Israel as they have worldwide (though I think Viognier, Gewurtztraminer, Muscat or French Columbard have greater export potential to bust off the Kosher wine shelf to the International or Eastern Mediterranean shelf).


 

2008  Recanati Sauvingon Blanc 44 NIS (about $10.50)

sweet on the palette with expected grapefruit, smooth but with crisp acidity 13% alcohol no oak aging as expected of most Sauvignon Blancs.


2008 Recanati Chardonnay 52 NIS ( about $12.50)

these grapes come from Kibbutz Manara in the Upper Galilee overlooking the border of Lebanon


with 13% alcohol the tropical fruit the nose matches well pear on the palette and hints of coconut brought on by a few months in oak


Award Winning Chardonnay

Award Winning Chardonnay


2006 Recanati Shiraz 52 NIS ( about $12.50)

these grapes come from Ezrael and famed Ella Valley vineyard

14.5% alcohol 8 months in French and American oak barrels

exhibiting lots of black fruits: Plum and Black Cherry

don't be surprised if in the future these same grapes are offered as a Syrah and with less American oak to suit Gil's preference for Rhone varietals.


David Enjoying Recanti

David Tasting & Enjoying the 2006 Recanati Shiraz

 

2006 Recanati Reserve Merlot

with grapes coming exclusively from the Ella Valley, this wine was treated to the wineries finest grapes and it's newest barrels. Both French and Hungarian oak was used for 16 months to produce a wine with lots of black fruit and a sweetness that doesn't come from any residual sugar but what the winery claims is a reflection of the Hungarian oak. This a wine sure to please fans of Merlot and maybe make a few new fans along the way.

14.5% alcohol


Gil, David and the Rabbi

Kosher Supervisor Rabbi Weiss, Wine Journalist David Rhodes & Winemaker Gil Shatsberg


2006 Recanati Reserve Petite Sirah-Zinfandel

This is what I would call a "California-blend" since these two grapes are more popular in California than anywhere else. This was one of Lewis Pasco's pet projects and maybe is a reflection of his time studying wine at UC Davis. Since Gil also studied there it's not suprising that this wine will continue in their future line-up.


This wine showed the best of both varietals, the octupus ink purple and busty body of Petite Sirah with the raspberry jam fest Zinfandels fans come to expect. The tannins are smooth for such a heavy hitter and easily accessable now.

With only 14% alcohol, a little less alcohol than one might expect from a California version but that is what might make it feel a bit more balanced.


Recanati Winery

POB 12050

Industrial Zone, Emek Hefer

(south of Hadera about a 10 minute walk off a Route 4 Bus stop)

Tel: o4 6222288  Fax: 04 6222882

info@recanati-winery.com

www.recanati-winery.com

 




April 19, 2009April 19, 2009  0 comments  wine

 

 

      There's a few different doors through which people enter into working with wine.  Many come into wine through the hospitality industry. Caterers, hotel and restaurant workers and owners have many opportunites to learn about wine through tasting the wines they serve. The wineries and distributors will often go to great effort and expense to give their staffs training (Eli Ben Zaken at Domaine du Castel for example was the owner of the Italian restaurant Mamma Mia in Jerusalem before making his fiirst wine).  In Israel, many children were lucky enough to have their parents catch the bug before them and have had a winery to set their sights on early in life. (Assaf Margalit and Golan Tishbi are examples of such winemakers who followed in their father's footsteps). Many winery owners switched from wine successful career paths in unrelated industries to the more romantic venture of winemaking (count Dalton and Recanati amoung these Israeli wineries). Some others entered through their curiousity while following academic pursuits ( I first studied wine through my college's geography department and Yair Margalit was a research chemist at UC Davis, which hosts one of the world's most famous wine programs). Much more rare but becoming more common is when a child paves the way for a parent. Ido Lewinsohn and his father Amnon are such a pair of aspiring wine entrepeneurs. 

     Ido has gained an immense amount of diverse winemaking experiences in a relatively short span of time.  Besides launching his new and promising winery, Ido serves as a winemaker at the award winning Recanati winery under the tutelage of noted winemaker Gil Shatsberg.  Ido has been been there for about two years so he was there when the winery went through it's transition from Recanati's founding winemaker Lewis Pasco in 2008 to Gil who had come over from the pretigious boutique Amphorae. Amnon Lewinsohn, had a long and fruitful career as a mechanical engineer before partnering with his son on making fine wines.  For a small winery, a mechanical engineer is an asset of immeasurable value. There are so many devices that need tinkering and many processes that can benefit from a trained eye especially in the limited space starting wineries often inhabit. Incidently, Ido mother's maiden name, Winezoff, loosely translates from Polish into "wine taster" so maybe a recessive gene is partly responable for Ido's devotion to oenology.

 

 

 

     Unlike many of the previous generation of Israeli winemakers, Ido and many of his contempories have had intensive training and work expereince in international wine schools, vineyards and wineries. Ido started quenching his curiousity about wine at the University of Milan where he studied oenology and viticulture. Since his initial studies, his practical experience has been bountiful and well traveled. From the "Old World"of European origin, he worked at the 2002 vintage of Domaine Haut Lirou in the Pic St. Loup appelation in the Languedoc region of France. In 2004, he returned to Italy to the Sassicaia Winery, in Tuscany, a producer of of notable "Super Tuscans."  In 2005, he gained valuble expereince creating a new winery in France's Rhone Valley, the Mas du Notaire in appelation Costieres de Nimes. He continued there the following year as well as crafting the wines at the Haut Lirou.

     Though his wines show an evident respect for Old World traditions of lower alcohol, less oakey, more nuanced wines, Ido isn't without his New World winemaking expereinces.  In 2003, he worked with the Margalit family in Israel (who themselves are noted for merging the best attributes of Old World and New World winemaking) and has maintained a close working relationship with the Margalit's ever since.  In 2007, Ido went to the far reaches of the winemaking world when he ventured to spend that vintage year at the Domaine A on the Austrailian island of Tasmania. This immediatley preceded his return to Israel and his start at Recanati. This was also the stage at when Ido transitioned from a student of wine into a teacher as he became the director of the winemaking course at Ariel University in the West Bank. These winemaking courses are evolving into a one year program for those aspiring to establish boutique wineries.

    The Lewisohn line-up is typical of many Israeli boutique wineries offering 3 wines: two reds, a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon and a for the one white a Chardonnay.  Though all of his wines equal or surpass the quality of many of Israel's other reserve wines, there is a barrel of Cabernet which might be later released as the winery's first reserve. Although the choice of varietals is not surprising, the special care he has taken in nuturing these wines manage to convey qualities rarely seen in their Israeli peers and could compete for bragging rights against well recognized international offerings.

     There are few distinct steps that Ido credits for his wines unique appeal, to me and to the select few who've been treated to his first vintage and a sneak preview of the the 2008's.  First and most importantly is Ido buys only the best grapes including some from the Margalit family's Galilee vineyards. He pays a premium to secure grapes he knows makes the highly sought after Margalit wines from their Kadita vineyard in the Galilee. Many winemakers will admit that you can only make great wine from from great grapes and I've heard some credit what happens in the vineyard accounts for 85 to 95% of the quality of any given wine.

     Not only does he secures great grapes he picks them at a lower than usual Brix level (sugar level) which provides for higher acidity than usual and lower alcohol levels. The lower alcohol and higher acidity levels allows for a wine that can convey more balance, a longer finish and more complexity unmasked by higher alcohol.  The lower brix picking has also been adopted by the Margalit's and that's good company to be keeping.

     Warmer weather regions typically have shorter growing seasons than cooler regions because the fruit ripen quicker which can give more dependable harvests but don't allow for more complex flavors and acidity to develop.  In Israel altitude can often make up for latitude and hilly and mountainous regions such as the Galilee, Golan and Judean Hills can produce grapes associated with more northern climes (or southern if you think of southern hemisphere wines in Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand for example).

    Even more unique than harvesting lower brix grapes is how Ido implements gravity in processing his wines. Gravitation winemaking is when the winemaker at every stage or even at critical stages uses gravity to assist the crushing, fermentation and even bottling processes.  During crushing the Lewinsohn's can accompish this by using a small crusher/destemmer that can process about a ton of grapes an hour but can be placed directly over the tank the juice is intended for.  This allows the grapes to avoid being being pumped to the tanks as most wineries do.  During pumping, the skins, stems and seeds are handled more harshly according to gravity proponents and this translates into more bitter tannic tasting wines with more vegetative aromas.  To complement this, instead of pumping over the juice to let the grapes slowly gently open up Ido uses open top tanks which allow for "punching down" which he asserts is even more gentle with the potentially problemeatic seeds, stems and skins (oh,my).

   Another suggested advantage of gravity processing is that the less pumping and other mechanical manipulations of juice from the grapes to tanks to barrels to the bottles, the less mechanical energy transferred to the grapes and the juice and the less interference with the natural tastes emerging from the wine.  Some winereies have gone to making 4 or 5 story wineries that allow every stage of the processing to use gravity to assist in the wine migrating from one stage to another. However, Ido considers "100%" gravtity assisted winemaking a marketing ploy and and an unnecessary extravagent expense and that it's only in certain stages (crushing,fermenting and bottling) that these efforts translate into noticeble differences.  Never the less, no Israeli competitors are 100% gravity assisted and few if any are known to be using it to the extent he's adopted. If his wines gain the respect they deserve, look forward to others to follow though it's far more manageble on the smaller scale of a boutique winery than a larger more industrial producer.

 

    An even more unique innovation Ido is introducing is sur lees aging to his reds. Now sur lees aging, aging the feremented juice with the already spent yeast, is quite common with white wines, but seldomn used with reds and almost unheard of with for aging up to the year Ido is aging his reds.  The sur lies provides another nuance to the taste and feel of the wines as the yeast cells impart a certain flavor but also as they break open impart a fuller body as they release polysaccarides into the wine. Polysaccarides by definition area long chain of sugars which give way to a  fuller body to the wines can provide balance otherwise  lost to lower alcohol levels due to the lower brix harvesting.

     Though his efforts supporting Gil Shatsberg at Recanati are more easily accessable in Israel and overseas, Ido has secured a few placements with Israeli restaurants that have been buying up his whole production of Lewinsohn Wines at between 4 to 6,000 bottles a year so far.  Al Ha'mayim, Messa and the Metushelach Wine Bar would be worth investigating just to try Lewinsohn wines and  if they have sought out such a high quality winery for their list, it wets one's imagination what else they might carry and what food they may serve to complement their wines. Currently, the 2007 Chardonnay is selling off the wine lists for 220-240 NIS/bottle (about $55- $60/bottle which isn't bad for a premium Chardonnay over dinner). The wines are retailing for 110 NIS for the Chardonnay and 130 for the reds (about $26 and $30 respectfully).

     Besides enjoying the fruits of his own labor with Lewinsohn's and Recanati's line-up of wines, he indulges in Margalit and Clos de Gat wines. His days in Europe weren't for naught and he does like to invest in Italian Piedmont wines when and where they're available.

   Fans of Israeli produced wines should be enthusiasic that Israel is nuturing and producing skillfull and concientious winemakers like Ido Lewinsohn and I hope they find ways to supports his efforts at Recanati or his own Lewinsohn wines less he be recruited to once again ply his craft overseas.

    I'll be looking forward to tasting his soon to be released 2008 Chardonnay which relied on grapes from Red Poetry vineyards.

 

 

 

 

 


June 30, 2009June 30, 2009  3 comments  wine

         There is much skepticism from wine writers in Israel and abroad if Israel's warm Eastern Mediterranean climate can produce the grapes required for making great white wines. Cooler climates such as the Rhine Valley in German and France's Graves, Champagne, Alsace and Burgandy regions provide vintners with longer growing seasons. Cooler climates also provide for lower alcohol levels and higher acidity levels which give a great white crispness and a clean finish and allow whites to age without the tannins found in the skins of red wine grapes. Never the less, against conventional wisdom many Israeli winemaker's are making great efforts to make "Great Whites" and some are showing tangible results in the process.

Lewinsohn Winery

        One such winemaker new to the scene is Ido Lewinsohn. I've previously discussed Ido's unique style of making his red Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and how his garagista might be making some of Israel's best made reds. Well, lightining has struck twice. He's also making some of Israel's best white wine in his 2008 Lewinsohn's "Garage de Papa" Chardonnay. In it's only second year of production, the Chardonnay is gaining a cult following as it's mostly sold through just a few of Israel's most renown eateries. Selling for about 225 NIS to over 300 NIS or about $55 in restaurants or about 175 NIS retail (if you can find any) it's definitely priced as one of the best white wines in Israel.

 

Lewinsohn 2008 Chardonnay

The 2008 Lewinsohn Chardonnay under the new "Garge de Papa" label.

     Of course, one reason for the higher than average price is the rarity. Only 880 bottles of the 2008 Lewinsohn Chardonnay was only made or about 3 barrels worth. About the same amount of the 2007 was produced and the winery sold that out completely and only a handful of those bottles remain in circulation on resturant wine lists. Few garagistas (garage wineries) just producing a few or several thousand bottles a year even tackle making white wines. Whites can be such "little princesses" that require so much attention to detail and extra stages to make it commercially appealing (compared to a reds) that many starting winemakers wait until they're making wine on a larger scale before they invest their time, effort and their blossoming reputation.  The time investment for whites can be much more intense and more suited for larger production runs.

    After tasting any of the three Lewinsohn labels it's quite apparent Ido isn't the typical garage winemaker.  First, he's no beginner. He's been neck deep in winemaking for almost a decade working on vintages in great wineries in France (where he opened a winery), Italy (where he attended the Univeristy of Milan), Tasmania and Israel. He's one of the two winemakers at the frequent award-winning Recanati Winery having worked there under its founding winemaker Lewis Pasco and now under Gil Shatzberg who came over from Israel's notable Amphorae Winery. Second, although he admts you learn something new every vintage, he 's not merely a student. He teaches and directs a winemaking program here in Israel to aspiring boutique winemaker's and seems to challenge himself not to just make wine he likes but to take his vast and varied experiences to make in theory what he thinks it takes to make the best wine in Israel.

     Having worked at the revered Margalit Winery in 2003, Ido seems to follow the lead of that father and son team of winemakers: Yair and Assaf Margalit. This prestigios winery that's been around now for almost 20 years only makes about a modest 20,000 bottles a year but it's on almost everyone's list of Israel's best wines. 20,000 bottles isn't the ideal level of production to be commercially viable so both Yair and Assaf have become prolific, respected and even adored instructors teaching how to make wine in classes from Tel Aviv to Tel Hai. Barry Saslove, another esteemed instructor has also gone on to create the well regarded Saslove Winery. As Ido and his contempories exemplify, the old American adage of "those who can't, teach" surely dooesn't apply to it's winemakers.

    The 2008 Chardonnay under Lewinsohn's new Gargage de Papa label might easily be mistaken for a Burgandy white than a "New World" Chardonnay. With stoic mineralitly up front, crisp acidity, hints of vanilla and bartlett pears on the finish this is a Chardonnay for those who don't like how Chardonnay'shave mutated in the last 20 years into buttery oever-oaked alcohol bombs. Ido thinks as this wine evolves it will even engender stronger Old World components. Currently, he's sur lees aging this wine for 8 mnths with only 2/3 of the wine in new French oak. He intends to use old oak as hs barrels mature to lessen the oak flavors interferring with the varietal purity of the choice Chardonnay grapes he contracts.

Ido at his

Ido at his "day job" at the much larger Recanati Winery as one of its two great winemakers

   With Ido's small production and focus on quality he's been able to carefully select distribution to those outlets that he believes have the conviction and know how to talk about his wines enthusiastically and intelligentllly.  At about 160 NIS ($35) retail and 220 to 240 NIS ($55-60) in restaurants, this Chardonnay ranks as one of Israel's most expensive white wines and I agree with Ido that it might take an educated staff to sell this wine against New World Chardonnay expectations but the informed consumer should be pleasantly surprised and even elated consuming this wine in contrast to similar or even higher priced international Chardonnays. Get it now before everyone else catches on to what I'm saying and what magic Ido's is making in his state of the art micro-winery in his father's modified temperture-controlled garage.

Lewinsohn Winery's Mascot

Every fan of the film Mondovino knows many great wineries have a loyal mascot

 

 

Ido Lewinsohn

can be contacted at:

idolewinsohn@gmail.com

 

 


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DavidRhodes
Posts: 54
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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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