With the holiday season only a few weeks away, wineries are already releasing new wines that might find their way to your holiday table. Over the past few days, thousands of people from across the country visited that 10th annual Jerusalem wine festival held at the Israel museum and had an opportunity to taste some of these new releases and meet the people “behind” the wine.
This impressive event is organized annually by leading Jerusalem wine stores, Avi Ben and Shachar Wines. Visitors also had the opportunity to enjoy live jazz music, tour the outdoor sculpture garden and the museum and I’m sure that those who took the opportunity to visit the King Herod’s exhibition found it to be quite impressive and relevant to the festival. Aside from being a great architect, King Herod was a true fineshmecker importing the best wines and delicacies from across the world to his palace in Jerusalem!
The wine festival featured wineries of varying sizes and styles from all over Israel including: Golan Heights, Carmel Winery, Yatir, Binyamina, Dalton, Yaffo Winery, Pelter, Galilee Mountain, Amphorae, Psagot, Kadesh Barnea, Katlav, Chillag, Ella Valley Winery, Ruth Winery, Har Odem, Har Bracha, Tavor, Mony, Ben Haim, and more. While this still one of, if not the most impressive wine festival in the country, and as a Jeruselamite who lives 10 minutes walking distance from the museum, by far my favorite, it was hard not to notice that fact that many wineries decided not to exhibit and with several exceptions, those who did, decided to serve their entry level and mid-range wines. Many people in the industry argue that there are simply to many wine festivals and that the exhibitors need to ensure that they see a return on their investment. I tend to agree and think that both the industry and the consumers can do with out some of the smaller festivals, but as mentioned above, the Jerusalem wine festival is here to stay.
I recently had the opportunity to sample several new wines from some of the exhibitors (not all were displayed at the festival). All would be excellent choices for the upcoming festive holiday meals:
Golan Heights, Yarden, Malbec, 2010 – the first Malbec based wine from the Golan Height Winery and one of the few varietal Malbecs in Israel. Originally a French grape varietal that is showing excellent results in Argentina, Malbec is considered by many as the national Argentinean grape variety and accounts for many of the big and famous reds of Mendoza. The fact that the Golan Heights winery decided to place the wine in the Yarden label was already an indication of faith and quality and the result was quite impressive. A very enjoyable full bodied wine with notes of blue and black berry fruits, pepper, plums, sweet spices, herbs all leading to a long and satisfying finish.
Tavor, Adama, Roussanne, 2012 – The Roussanne is a new addition to the Tavor portfolio and the first varietal Israeli Roussanne based wine that I have sampled. The result is quite impressive – a clear, crisp vino with generous aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, guava, green apples and citrus zest leading to a long and well balanced finish. Serve chilled on a warm spring/summer afternoon and you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Barkan, Assemblage, Tzafit, 2010 – a blend comprising Marselan (51%), Caladoc (33%), Pinotage (11%) and Carignan (5%). The result is a medium bodied and well balanced vino suggesting very pleasant (and interesting) aromas and flavors that bring to mind ripe red and black fruits, sweet spices, dry flowers, dark chocolate and fresh herbs coming together nicely and leading to a medium-long finish.
Mony Winery, Reserve, Shiraz, 2010 – there is no question that the Mony winery has gone a long way since winemaker Sam Soroka took the helm a few years ago. From the Chardonnay Reserve through the premium Dlila vino, Mony is offering excellent wines offering good value for money. The Shiraz 2010 with a dash of Petit Verdot is medium-full bodied suggesting pleasant aromas and flavors of dark berry fruits, plums, and warm spices while in the background slight smokey-meaty notes.
Katlav, Nes Harim, 2010 – a blend of Merlot (50%) and the balance Petit Verdot, from vineyards in the Judean hills, this is a very enjoyable medium bodied wine, dark in color, good balance with a dark fruit and sweet spice profile coming together nicely and leading to a pleasant finish. If you are in the Nes Harim area, I would highly recommend stopping by and visiting winemaker Yossi Yitach and also tasting the Winery’s flagship winery – Wadi Katlav.
Shiloh, Shor, Barbera, 2010 – one of my favorite wines at the festival, a medium bodied Barbera from the Shiloh winery. Dark ruby suggesting aromas and flavors of red cherries, plums and herbs. Good acidity and balance, this would be an excellent wine to serve aside pasts or dishes with a tomato based sauce.