...seems to be a growing interest in the US. Can anyone comment on the winemaking practices, terroir, their favorite producers or general style? I see some GSM and Bordeaux varietals coming from there, but any direct knowledge or resources for learning more would be much appreciated!
Some of my favorites: The Cave by Binyamina, C by Castel, Psagot Edom, all of Amphorae’s wines, Recanati Marselan (this grape was pretty neat by severally producers), Dalton’s single vineyard Syrahs, Tulip’s Black Tulip and White Franc, The Shoresh/Misty Hills Wines, Tabor’s old vine Sauv Blanc, Pink Buzz, Yarden Blanc de Blancs Late disgorged , Jezreel pet nat, and Margalit. Lots of good Grenache blanc and gewurtztraminer from a wide range of producers.
Vineyard areas are are pretty diverse. hot Desert In the south with ancient soils to cool high altitude in the north on basalt.
Thanks Jeremy Eubanks !
Winemaking seemed pretty conventional, but there are a growing number of small producers experimenting. I think all that I mentioned are kosher except Amphora (Mayan from the Melka empire oversees that). That’s the one thing that stands out.
The Cremisan winery (West Bank) does some fun bottlings of more indigenous varietals; they have a Baladi, Hamdani/Jandali blend that’s really fun, and a Dabouki that’s really light, floral, and crisp. The Ramot Naftaly winery is great - more Bordeaux centric; they have a Petit Verdot that’s wonderful, their single varietal Barbera is outstanding, and their Barbera-Merlot blend is great. Shvo Vineyards is always solid - their Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon blanc are beautiful; they also do a Barbera-Grenache Rose that’s so delicious. Some other really wonderful wineries: Kishor, Ashkar, Margalit (their Enigma blend is insanely gorgeous), Midbar, Domaine de Castel, Psagot, Recanati (their wild carignan is wonderful), Pelter (they have a blanc de blanc that is off the charts!!!)
Overall, winemaking techniques are fairly traditional to what you would find in Western Europe (the Baron de Rothschild was instrumental in elevating the Israeli wine industry in the 1880s upon his travels there). So you find a lot of stainless steel tanks, some new oak usage - particularly with the more boutique wineries like Margalit (but only on their higher-end items).
Unfortunately there’s not a lot of published information on Israeli wines (and even less published in English). The Ultimate Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines is a great resource, though I believe the most up-to-date version was published in 2012. There is supposedly another book that has been published in 2018 on the website www.grape-man.com, but I have yet been able to find it.
They are pretty committed to Sauvignon Blanc and Carignan. Most of the current "old vines" are these, or similar, grapes. We are only going back to the 1960's for their modern industry. There's a lot of technology and foreign interest and they do some pretty amazing things there. Surprising amount of diversity. Marcelan is delicious there as is Gewurz!
Gotcha, so does that rule out being able to use inoculation or fining with egg whites? Any impact?
I’d love to find some 50-60 yr old Carignan, sounds delicious, and I perceive good ones to some very enjoyable fruit and balance.
Alicia Wilbur is probably the person in the guildsomm community to answer specifics on Kosher winemaking, but yeah, the egg white thing would be cause for concern.
Thanks Christopher Rogers, I’ll look for that book! The Margalit info was a direct hit as to why I was curious.
We published this article by Rebecca Fineman two years ago, and it gives a high-level overview of history, climate, grapes, style, etc. Be sure to read the great comments there, too!
Perfect, Stacy Ladenburger thank you so much.
Hey All! We're actually gearing up for a good amount of Israeli and Eastern Mediterranean content this fall, in addition to a class series. Glad to see the excitement and stay tuned in the coming months!
Clos de Gat, smaller boutique producer that makes great syrah and pretty good chardonnay. There is a wine press on the property that allegedly dates back to the biblical era and it's pretty entertaining to think about the Romans making wine there before Christ.
Hey mate you got pretty good info about what is going on in Israel. I would say that generally you can divide Israel to 5 different regions. Right now there is now PDO/PGI system and all the wines labeled as product of Israel (without going to much to politics, because we do have the Israeli-Palestine conflict after all). In addition I will say that lately (few months ago) kind of a committee was formed and kind of start to regulate what is going on, I do believe the system will more similar to what is going in the USA with the AVA or in Australia and the GI's. What that means, not to much regulation about what and how and more focus on the where.
The regions right now are The Galile (includes Upper, Downer, Golan Hieghts), The Judean hills, Samsom, Shomron and The Negev (desert area). The new system (which is still in progress) the areas are: Upper Galile, Golan Hieghts, Downer Galile, Coastal Plain, Lowlands, Central Mountains and the Negev. All of those will include sub-regions. Quick Reminder! ALL OF THOSE DO NOT HAVE ANY LEGAL INDICATION.
Regard the climate. its widely vary from the north when you can rich vineyards from 600m-1100m height with decent amount of rain (but still not enough in most the vintages and there is irrigation in most of the vineyards) and down to Judean hills area which is more dry but still quite humid to the coastal are when you can get some sea breeze to the desert with high dirunal range and extremely dry.
Winemakers practices are most of time conventional agriculture but there is some organic (as far as I know none are Bio-dynamic) and a lot wineries do say that they practice sustainable agriculture (but who knows? again there is no regulation for that). The majority of premium quality grape still going toward Bordeaux varieties on red and SB and Chardonnay on the whites. There is a movement toward more Mediterranean varieties (Southern Rhone, Southern France etc...) and try more what they call indigenous varieties (which most of them usually used as table grapes, but that cool promo thing and some of the wines are good). Regard the Cargnian that was mention here, because its a wine grape that without any supervision can give very high yields it was planted widely mainly for Kidush wine (cheap, disgusting wines for religious purposes only) and not for high quality old Cargnian as you imagine like from Priorat.
Wine to be Kosher need a supervision of a true believer Jewish that keeps all the orders from God. There is some rules for the vineyards itself but most of agriculture today doing those orders anyway for the health of the vines. In the winery all must happen is only that Jewish believer will touch the grapes from the moment they crushed (the moment the grapes becoming grape must) and from now on only he/them can touch the vats, the barrels etc until the wine is bottled.
I hope you find this information useful and satisfy. Here for any other question about Israel, wine and etc
I'm an Israeli sommellier
Thanks, Jeremy. :) Egg white are allowed in kosher winemaking, fining agents like casein or gelatin are not.Inoculation with yeast is allowed, as with any input it does need to be certified Kosher.As a general rule, kosher winemaking is exactly like general winemaking, with guidelines regarding inputs and those who can carry out winemaking practices and movements. As Omer points out below, movements are carried out by Observant Jewish workers. And because it inevitably gets asked due to misinformation, YES Observant Jewish women can touch and make wine.
Not all Israeli wine is kosher.
I'd also add Shiloh, winemaker Amichai Lourie, and Ya'akov Oryah Wines to the list of Israeli wineries and winemakers to check out.