Sommelier & Beaujolais

On the 7th and 8th of November hundreds of winemakers, waiters, bartenders, restaurateurs, hotel personnel, importers and distributors traveled from across the country to the Nokia basketball arena, there to attend the annual Sommelier exhibition.

The event, which is organized annually by Studio Ben Ami, is considered as the one of the best wine events that our wine industry has to offer. The event maintains its exclusivity as it is only open to the professional crowd and provides and excellent opportunity for all of the people that come in contact with the wines we consume (literally - from the vintner to the sales person or waiter serving the wine) to be exposed to new vinos on the market, mix and match and even sample wines from wineries that I'm sure they didn't even know existed prior to attending the show.

I sampled some excellent imported wines at the Mersch booth which focuses primarily on Australian and New Zealand wines (ask for the Sauvignon Blanc's from the Astrolabe winery) and at Kippis where their motto is "Wines From Different Worlds), here me favorites were the German Rieslings and the Zekt, a sparkling wine also made from Riesling grapes. Yatir's booth was also a pleasure and both their Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon were up to par with previous releases. Clos De Gat is also producing some fine red wines (the Sycra as well as the Harel labels) as does Chateau Golan with the Eliad and the Cabernet Sauvignon being my favorites.

Barkan – the Barkan Winery recently released a new label titled Assemblage, a French word referring to the blending process resulting in the final vino. Assemblage is positioned between the winery's Reserve and Altitude label that both consist solely of varietal wines and will be sold for NIS 90 per bottle. Yotam Sharon, one of Barkan's winemakers mentioned that "the Assemblage label is a new concept in the winery and is shift towards the 'old world'. The emphasis is less on the variety and more on the terroir. The wines reflect the regions where the grapes were cultivated and the names of the wines Eitan, Tzafit and Reichan are derived directly from names of mountains or other geographical landmarks in the vicinity in the vineyards." The first wine to be released was the Assemblage, Eitan, 2008 – comprised of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, bright ruby in color, on the nose and palate, soft, plenty of red fruit, fresh herbs and pepper followed by pleasant notes of chocolate and just a touch of cloves and a long finish. Good balancing acidity and relatively low alcohol levels also make it a rather food friendly wine.

Golan Heights - The Golan Heights winery is always busy adding wines to their portfolio. With the new Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, El Rom, 2008 released only yesterday, the Yarden 2T based on Portuguese grape varieties released a couple of months ago and a Sparkling Rose in the works, Victor Schonfeld and his team recently released a new Syrah wine, the first of this variety to ever be included in the popular Gamla label. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Riesling are usually among the best choices in their price range and the Syrah too was very enjoyable. Gamla, Syrah, 2009 – 12 months in French oak, medium leaning towards full bodied, the wine is true to its variety showing black fruit, plums, black pepper, moderate use of oak and hints of smoked meat

Dalton – after several years of producing a single Bordeaux style blend under the Alma label, the Dalton winery recently released two new wines, turning the label into a series of interesting blended wines. Dalton, Alma, SMV, 2009 - coined by the winery as a Rhone valley style blend, comprised of Shiraz, Morvedre and Viognier grapes, dark purple in color, medium bodied, showing purple flowers, black berry fruits, fresh Mediterranean herbs and a touch of anise all backed by a refreshing acidity.

“Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” (The new Beaujolais has arrived!). Every year, on the third Thursday of the month of November, wine aficionados, vintners and winemakers across the globe celebrate the release of the first wines from the recent harvest. The wine receives its name from the Beaujolais province of France which is situated just north of Lyon and is considered by many as part of the celebrated Burgundy wine region. The Beaujolais Nouveau usually ranges from purple to pink in color and is a rather light weight wine characterized by very refreshing and fruity aromas and flavors. These wines are intended for immediate consumption and should be served slightly chilled.

Some Israeli wineries have also been producing Beaujolais wines in recent years, including Binyamina, Golan Heights, Tishbi and Carmel. Leading wine importers the Shaked Brothers that also operate the Derech Hayain (wine route) chain have imported a kosher Beaujolais wine from France produced by the Georges Duboeuf winery.
Various wineries and restaurants are also marking the occasion with celebrations of their one:
• On Thursday 17/11 Derech Hayain stores will be hosting a Beaujolais party between 20:00 – 22:00. The event is open to the public and several Israeli wines will also be showcased.
• HaTraklin restaurant in Tel Aviv has partnered with winemaker Orna Chillag of the Chillag winery who will be revealing her new wines from the Bambino label. The Festivities will begin on 16/11 and last the entire weekend.
• Situated in Tel Mond, Chef Yossi Asaraf of Porter-House will be offering a special meal for two (16 + 17/11), including starters, mains, wine and coffee
• In Jerusalem, Adom will be celebrating on 16.11 with a full meal and unlimited Beaujolais wine for only NIS 165 per person