Virtually every wine aficionado or industry professional that I have spoken with over the past couple of weeks expressed enthusiasm and excitement in preparation for the upcoming IsraWineExpo 2012. Once every two years leading culinary magazines, the Israel Export Promotion Center, Haim Gan (founder of the Grape Man in Jaffa), The Israel Trade Fair Center and others, join forces and organize the biggest wine and alcohol event in Israel. While Israel has other wine events and fairs of varying sizes and styles; including: Sommelier, the Israel Museum Wine Festival, Raanana Wine Festival, Judean Hills Wine Festival and most recently a well organized event dedicated to Kosher wines titled + Wine Seven Two (a play on words as Israel’s international calling code - +972), the IsraWineExpo is the only one that while catering primarily to the domestic crowd also has a true international orientation, attracting buyers, distributors, wine journalists and other industry professionals from around the world.
This year the event will be held on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of February with the first day (12:00-22:00) open to the professional crowd upon invitation or prior registration only (dealers, importers, sommeliers, restaurateurs etc.). On the 22nd and 23rd the event will be open to the public (16:00-23:00) and for NIS 70 guests will receive a complementary wine glass and ten ‘wine tasting vouchers’ - of course additional tasting vouchers can be purchased separately.
One of the bonuses in attending these wine tasting events or exhibitions is the fact that one gets a chance to sample a variety of wines before actually purchasing them. Industry statistics show that a significant percentage of annual wine sales in Israel take place in the months leading up to the Passover holiday and this can be a good opportunity to makeup the wine list for the festive holiday meals.
Another advantage of attending these events is the chance one receives to meet leading winemakers, industry professionals and other wine enthusiasts, hearing first hand about new developments on the local wine scene, new trends and in some cases even hear about various surprises that the winemaker has up his/her sleeve.
The event will include wineries of from across the country, including: Avidan, Adir, Alexander, Binyamina Winery, Carmel Winery, Domaine Ventura, Galilee Mountain Winery, Golan Heights Winery, Gvaot Winery, Recanati, Ramot Naftali Winery, Saslove, Tulip, Teperberg 1870, Tishbi Winery, Vitkin Winery, Shiloh Winery and others.
In preparation for some warmer weather to come, following are a few white wines that I have tasted over the past couple of weeks, and will probably be available at the show:
Binyamina, Reserve, Gewürztraminer, 2011 – 100% Gewürztraminer grapes from vineyards in the lower Galilee (Tavor), this is a semi-dry aromatic white vino. On the nose and palate pleasant notes of rose petals, white flowers, tropical fruits, citrus and a touch of cloves leading to a medium-long clean finish. Not too sweet and well balanced, this is also a rather food friendly wine that can be paired with more ‘exotic’ and seasoned dishes from the Indian or Asian cuisine. ~ NIS 65
Golan Heights, Yarden, Gewürztraminer, 2011 – again 100% Gewürztraminer grapes, this time from vineyards situated in the Golan Heights, the wine is showing generous typical varietal aromas and flavors, including white flowers, lychee, tangy passion fruit and warm spices leading to a pleasant finish. Serve chilled and if you leave the bottle out, use an ice bucket, since as the wine warms up in the glass a slight alcoholic sensation becomes evident. The winery suggests serving with cured meats or Mexican chicken fajitas. ~ NIS 63
Golan Heights, Gamla, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 – 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Golan Heights, traditionally this has been one of the best buys in its price range and the 2011 is up to par with previous releases. Light straw in color, medium bodied, suggesting very fresh aromas of lemons, kiwi, sour green apples and slight grassy notes leading to a pleasant finish. The winery suggests serving alongside grilled fish and even sushi. ~ NIS 40
Santa Carolina, Visantia, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 - imported from Chile by the Scottish Company, a light and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc – pale straw with some green reflections showing notes of lemon, grapefruit, green melon and cut grass leading to a medium, clean finish. Nothing fancy but definitely an approachable wine offering very good value for money. NIS 29