If you are trying to figure out the connection between Israeli wines and Swedish vodka, you probably will not find one. The only connection that I could think of is the fact that I had the opportunity to sample both last week and decided to review them in this article.
Over the past couple of years, the Mony Winery has been undergoing a quality revolution. It went from a winery that, at least in my opinion, offered wines of little interest and transformed into a boutique winery offering nice wines at reasonable prices. Much of this is credited to Canadian winemaker Sam Soroka, previously of the Carmel winery. Soroka has vast international experience, working in Australia, Canada, California, France and Israel. The results can already be noticed in Mony's recent offerings.
Situated on the grounds of the Dir Rafat monastery, a couple of miles down the road from the Tzora Kibbutz, the winery was established in 2000 and began producing kosher wines in 2005. By the way, the Tzora and Teperberg wineries are both within a 5 minute drive from Dir Rafat and visiting two or, if your schedule permits, all three of these wineries could be a very interesting tour and sampling of wines from the Judean Hills wine region. Please note that, as all of these wineries are kosher, their visitors centers are closed on Shabbat.
Mony, Sunny Hills, Red Muscat, 2009 – produced from Muscat Hamburg grapes is a light and refreshing dessert wine that can also be served chilled on its own on a warm sunny afternoon. The wine offers aromas of flowers and red citrus fruit; grapefruit and blood oranges (currently in season and are excellent for salads, juice or ceviche) came to mind leading to a clean and pleasant finish.
Mony, Claret, 2009 – A classic Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, the wine is dark and concentrated in color, medium-full bodied, hinting at various flavors of black berries, black pepper and a touch of vanilla.
As for the vodka, last week Tempo, the Israeli representative of the Pernod Ricard alcohol consortium, held an impressive event in Tel Aviv sponsored by Tempo and Absolut Vodka. In addition to excellent performances by two leading Israeli groups – the Balkan Beat Box and Infected Mushroom, visitors also had the opportunity to sample the new, limited edition vodka named after celebrated Swedish fashion illustrator and artist, Ms. Liselotte Watkins. I cannot say that I am a big vodka drinker, but the influx in premium and ultra premium brands available in Israel has definitely changed the face of the local vodka scene. The vodka Watkins is infused with roasted coffee, almond and red chilis that come together nicely and offer an interesting twist.