I still believe that Eshkol HaZahav is an important vehicle for Israeli wineries and is among the most professional and serious competitions/events in the country
A couple of weeks ago the 11th consecutive Eshkol HaZahav wine competition took place in Tel Aviv. Previously referred to as the Oscars of the Israeli wine industry, it seems that this year there was a certain decline in the interest and number of participating wines and wineries. Fewer wineries participated, fewer wines were sent and in some cases (at least judging from the results and winners) the wineries did not send their top vinos to be tasted. Not sure if it is a matter of budget, overkill of competitions and wine exhibitions, politics or other considerations, but so it goes… Having said that, I still believe that Eshkol HaZahav is an important vehicle for Israeli wineries and is among the most professional and serious competitions/events in the country. All of the wines are tasted and re-tasted by a panel of experts, before the winners are selected.
Going over the list of the winners it was nice to see some surprises which come to show you the similar to a book, the wine shouldn’t be judged just by its cover; and also that there are still some gems to uncover among the local boutique wineries. Carmel Winery received 9 medals, including gold for the Riesling, Kayoumi, 2011, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Kayoumi, 2009 and the Late Harvest, Gewürztraminer 2009 – all excellent vinos; the Dalton Winery received two medals – gold for their Merlot, Reserve, 2010 and the silver medal for the Alma, Bordeaux blend, 2010 – I recently sampled the Merlot and found it very enjoyable; Tavor Winery received 5 medals for differed red and white wines from the winery’s Adama label – a few months ago the winery released a varietal Roussanne based vino that is well worth a try; The Golan Heights Winery was awarded a few medals including a silver medal for the Chardonnay, Yarden Odem Organic 2011 – one of my favorites on the market; 1848 Winery of the Galina-Shor family continues to demonstrate quality receiving medals for both red and white vinos; Binyamina also received recognition including medals for the winery’s Odem, Syrah, 2010 and the recently released Bin, Viognier 2012, both very enjoyable vinos.
As for the surprises or less familiar wineries: Stern Winery received two solid medals for their Cab Franc and Peleg red blend; Tura Winery also received medals, with a gold for their Mountain Peak red blend; the Whartman Winery received a gold medal for their Cab Franc and finally – this was the first time I have heard of the Weizmann Winery that was awarded a gold medal for their varietal Petit Verdot.
Congratulations to all of the winners and chapeau to Avi Ben Ami and his team for organizing the event and promoting wine culture and appreciation in Israel. Hope to see you at Eshkol HaZahav 2014.