It is always good to hear about a new winery joining the local industry, but one cannot stop to think about the costs involved and the ability to actually survive and grow in a market that some may claim is saturated. With the very low per capita consumption rate in Israel and a growing number of excellent imports, it is becoming harder and harder to compete. I am no marketing or branding expert but it is rather clear that aside from producing good wine that is or at least should be a pre-requisite; wineries, and small-boutique wineries even more so, also need to ‘tell a story’ and find a way to differentiate themselves from others.
A new winery titled MAIA, which stands for Mediterranean Art - Israeli Approach, just released its first wines and seems to be doing a very good job, both on the quality as well as the branding side. Founded by Roy Itzhaki who some of you may know as the owner of the Tulip Winery (which also succeeds at producing good wines while offering consumers ‘a good story’), MAIA’s vision is to produce wines that are Mediterranean in nature and style and match the local climate, character and cuisine. In order to make this vision a reality, Itzhaki recruited two expert winemaker/vintners from Greece – Professor Yiannis Paraskevopoulos and Professor Costas Bakiastas – to share their experiences in working with indigenous Greek grape varietals and produce wines that are more Mediterranean in style. Itzhaki indicated that they are already experimenting with several new and interesting grape varietals, and personally, I am very eager to see how these varietals acclimate in Israel. Here are a couple of the wines that I recently sampled:
MAIA, Mare Pink, 2013 – a blend of Carignan and Mourvedre – this is a very refreshing Rose suggesting generous aromas of red fruit – strawberries, raspberries and cherries come to mind – alongside flowers and a touch of spice, leading to a pleasant finish. Serve chilled on a warm summer afternoon and you really can’t go wrong.
MAIA, Mare Red, 2013 – comprising Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah grapes – when I first approached the wine, it reminded of a nice Cote du Rhone. Medium bodied, this is a very easy-drinking wine with pleasant aromas of ripe plums and berry fruits followed by black pepper and dry herbs all leading to a medium and clean finish. Not a ‘big’ wine but quite enjoyable and showing character.
Supporting Wineries from the South
There are various initiatives to support businesses that were affected by the recent operation in Gaza. With the impact on the restaurant and tourism (both domestic and international) sectors, the wine industry and particularly the small-boutique wineries have taken a major hit. If you have the opportunity to show your support and purchase a bottle, I am sure that the wineries will be very appreciative.
The Jaffa wine initiative will be hosting several wineries on Sunday, 10.8 (18:00-22:00) including Agur, Tzafririm, La terra Promessa and others. 30 Yefet St. Jaffa.