Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Boston Wine Expo: Wines of Israel

I started my wine sampling at the Grand Tasting of the Boston Wine Expo on Saturday at the King David Wines table, which is an importer and distributor of Israeli wines, all of which are Kosher. It was fortunate that my first tasting of the Expo ended up including a number of excellent wines. Israel produces some high quality wines and I've previously written a few articles about those wines. I recommend that you taste Israeli wines and find out why I am a fan.

The Ramat Negev Winery saw its origins back in 1997, with a desire to establish a winery that was based only on local produce. The owners planted 2.47 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon on their estate located near the Kadesh Barnea village, eventually naming the winery after the village. In time though, they decided to rename the winery, to the Ramat Negev Winery. "The name came from the desire to express the unique growing lands´ grapevines in Ramat Hanegev, while representing the entire Ramat Hanegev area." The winery is still small, producing only about 80,000 bottles annually.

The 2016 Ramat Negev Sauvignon Blanc was aromatic, with crisp and tasty flavors of grapefruit and pineapple. Easy drinking, fresh and fun. The 2016 Ramat Negev Kadesh Barnea Rosé, made from 100% Cabernet Franc, was also fresh, crisp and delicious. It is dry with pleasing red berry flavors and a hint of peach.

The 2015 Ramat Negev Kadesh Barnea Cabernet Sauvignon ($21.99) is aged for about ten months in mostly new American oak and then spends three months in the bottle. With an alluring aroma, the wine presents with a smooth taste, restrained tannins, and tasty flavors of cherry and plum, raspberry and blackberry with some spicy undertones, including vanilla. You could enjoy this wine on its own or pair it with a hearty dish.

My favorite from their portfolio was the 2013 Ramat Negev Ramon Petit Verdot ($39.99), from a  single vineyard, and I was told that Petit Verdot grows very well in Israel. The wine spent about 18 months in new French oak and then six months in the bottle. With a powerful spicy aroma, this wine is deep and dark but with restrained tannins. It possesses juicy blackberry and plum flavors with a touch of blueberry, a spicy aspect, and a lengthy, pleasing finish. This is a wine that is probably best paired with food and it should also impress many wine lovers. Highly recommended.

In 2007, Elad Movshoviz established Shokek Winery in Sussya in the southern Judean Hills, at an altitude of over 880 meters. In 2016, Elad decided to change the name of the winery to Drimia Winery. It is a tiny winery, producing only about 12,000 bottles annually, and they also produce only   four grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Petit Verdot. The 2012 Drimia Cabernet Sauvignon ($34.99) is also a deep and dark wine, powerful but restrained, with prominent black fruit flavors, a spicy streak, and a hint of eucalyptus taste. It is complex and delicious, with a lengthy finish, good acidity, and a nice balance. A very good wine, I will have to seek out their Petit Verdot.

Katlav Winery, located in Nes Harim, was founded in 1998 by Yossi Yitach, an architect by profession. The 2012 Katlav Wedi Katlav ($44.99) is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 10% Syrah which spent 18 months in French oak. It is a big and muscular wine, though the tannins don't overwhelm the wine. There are pleasing flavors of black cherry and plum, with lots of spicy notes, and hints of licorice. With its complexity, good acidity, and lingering finish, it delivers a quality wine. I am intrigued how this wine will taste with several years of aging.

Katlav then thoroughly impressed me with their 2013 Katlav Cabernet Sauvignon ($70-$75), which spent 36 months in French oak. With an alluring aroma of black fruit and spice, this was a more elegant, complex and subtle wine, which might have needed a little time to open up. However, its potential was clear, with such a fascinating depth of flavor, smooth tannins, a beautiful melange of flavors, and such a lengthy and satisfying finish. This is not an over-the-top wine, but still shines forth and I would have loved to spend an evening with this wine. Despite its high price, I still highly recommend it as it is well worth its cost.

What Israeli wines have you enjoyed recently?

No comments: