Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 In Review

2014 has seen many new advancements in the Israeli Wine World.
From New vintages of well known products such as El Rom 2011 (quite possibly the best wine I have tasted, and that from 2 years ago in the barrel), and the first Kosher edition of Flam Noble (2010) to new players on the scene such as Abouhav, Maya, and Matar among others.
The Industry continues to win awards all over the world and attain many high rankings from wine personalities such as Robert Parker. Most surprising to me was the recent ranking in the Worlds top 100 wines of the world from Wine Spectator, that being Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee, which isn't available to buy anywhere.

Here though is my list of some of the top kosher movers and shakers (either because they are new on the scene or because they stand out for quality and price) available on the shelves at prices that will NOT break the bank (all under NIS 100).

1) Bet El Carignon 2013- Easily the best Carignon I have tasted, coming from Bet El Wineries under the advice of Lewis Pasco, Bet El wines have dramatically improved and the Carignan is not to be missed. With it's rich flavor, and deep purple color it is a great buy at NIS 85.

2) Latoure Netofa 2012 - Although exactly the same composition as the 2011 (Syrah and Mourvedre), the 2012 will long term be a much better wine. It is currently young and fruity, but will develop more as it ages. Good value for those with just a bit of patience at NIS 100.

3) Maia Rose - Think sitting on the balcony overlooking the Mediterranean sea. - 'Nough said!
This is a wine that you can sit and go through a bottle with a friend on a nice sunny day. Not sunny? enjoy the red instead. Maia is a great new winery under the ownership of Roy Yitzchaki from Tulip. David Bar Ilan and two professors from Greece teamed up to make this a very special project indeed, and a forerunner in the drive to start producing quality wines from Mediterranean grapes instead of the French heavier varieties. - NIS 85

4) Gamla Shmura Syrah Rose -  Light and fruity this Rose goes down almost like a semi dry. Dark in color, but light in almost every other positive way - a steal at NIS 69

5) Shilo Shor Cabernet Franc - Surprisingly smooth for a Cabernet Franc (100%) that was aged for 17 months in Oak. It seems that Amichai Luria has done it again and continues to produce top notch wines at every level. - NIS 84

6) Har Bracha Blend - This wine is a nother in the recent line of wines from Nir Lavie which lives up to it's name - Bracha (Blessing). Aged on oak chips, this wine has a medium body and brings out the flavors of the fruits from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot grapes. Sure to please at - NIS 74

7) Matar Cumulous - Produced by Matar Winery (Pelters' new Kosher facility) this wine is soft on body with a full approachable flavor, Cumulous is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc which is the dominant flavor, even though it is only 20% of the makeup. Though not yet available on the market, it will be part of our upcoming Wine of the Month selection. Nicely priced at NIS 95

8) Gvaot Sartaba - Gvaot (The elegant winery of Israel), is going to clean up on this! New pricing starting in January on a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Sartaba is as good as it's namesake is high. Full on the body and the flavor it is currently priced at NIS 92 will be dropping with the next round to NIS 79 (pricing is currently at the lower rate with our chanukkah special of 5+1).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The 11th Annual Jerusalem Wine Festival

The time is upon us once again!

Tomorrow evening, September 1st, is the start of the four-day Jerusalem Wine Festival at the Israel Museum.

This festival, more than many others, allows for two completely different experiences:

1) It is a great opportunity to get together and hang out with some good friends, in a chilled atmosphere with perfect weather, tasting some exciting wines in an elegant landscape.

2) Discover some of the best Israel has to offer, while also learning a bit about what makes a wine good, better or great. Wineries come from all five of Israel’s wine regions, their vineyards growing in different soils and climates, and the fine touches of each individual winemaker.

Whatever your reason for going – it is sure to be an experience well worth the NIS 85 entrance for all-you-can-taste in a night.

Here are a few tips for staying a bit more sober on your night out:
  1. Have a large CARB DAIRY meal before you come.
  2. While at the festival (or at any wine tasting) make the rounds twice. First try the whites and roses, and then on the second round, have the reds.
  3. Don't be afraid to spit out the wine. It is actually expected, that's why spit buckets are there. Taste, swish, spit...
  4. Don’t be shy! If you have questions about a wine/ winery, just ASK the person behind the table for an explanation. As long as the table isn’t overly busy, they will be delighted to chat with you about anything having to do with the industry — from temperature and climate, to controls used during fermentation, to bottling and even label design. Some booth will have hired attendants briefed in the basics, but there are usually a number of representatives who work at the winery on hand too.
A few more things to keep in mind:
  1. Please be responsible – If you plan to taste a lot – either use the “Taste, Swish Spit” method, or get a designated driver.
  2. NOT ALL WINERIES at the festival will be under Kosher certification, so be careful. They are usually marked, but if you have questions, ask!
  3. For those coming on Tuesday or after, please check our website for a list of my top favorite “not-to-be-missed “ wines at the show.
  4. We at the Jerusalem Wine Club will be offering similar pricing to what you'll find at the festival (those wines that we carry on a regular basis...or special orders for other bottles, if from wineries we deal with). So rather than having to shlep the wine home with you late at night after a night of drinking, come in to the store in Efrat or buy online with us, and get it delivered to your door!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Chardonnay – A Wine of Mystery!

According to many sources, Chardonnay originated in Lebanon, but rumor has it that it’s actually Israeli – stolen by the French Crusaders who took it back to France and made a wine called Sha’ar Adon-nay, which translated from the Hebrew, means ‘The Gate of God'. Others maintain that it is part of the Pinot family, a hybrid grape from Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc on one side and a lesser-quality grape called Gouais Blanc on the other. Or finally, maybe it’s a grape indigenous to Chablis in France where by law, no other wine grape can be grown!

Winemakers love Chardonnay because the vines are easy to grow and have a high yield. And wine drinkers? We love Chardonnay because of the wide variety of flavors it can take on.

But wait…the diversity goes on! Depending on where it's grown and how it's fermented, Chardonnay can taste creamy, buttery, nutty, smoky or steely (yes, that's a thing — and not a bad one). It can vary all the way from crisp and smooth to a full heavy oaky finish, semi-sweet to sour, with popular fruit descriptors like apple, tangerine, lemon, lime and melon.

Either way, Chardonnay really hit its prime when it started being cultivated in California. In the past 40 years, it has grown immensely to where it is now: the most popular white wine available, growing on some 400,000 acres worldwide!

So what does this all this mean to you? Well, everything and anything you want it to. Chardonnay can truly be the PERFECT wine for ANY occasion!

Ready to try a few to compare some of Israeli's best offerings? Click here to visit the Chardonnay page on the Jerusalem Wine Club's online store...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Wines of Summer

       As the temperatures rise towards the summer heat, I believe it is important to start to focus on and understand the world of Whites and Rosés. These are wines that will still go well with your meals and yet provide that cool, refreshing, crisp fruitiness that is perfect for the season. Of late, Israel has been producing some very interesting White and Rosé wines that are perfect for summer. These will be fruity and crisp full of wonderful aromas and flavors, perfect for sitting out in your yard or on your balcony on a hot day, or to go along with nice summer meals.

      As of late, Israel has been expanding more and more into this area, with varietals such as: Chardonnay, Suavignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Muscat, as well as lesser known grapes such as Rousanne. In addition, there are some interesting productions of typically red grapes that are being produced in white blends such as Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Mourvedre.

       Riesling, hailing originally from Germany and the Alsace region of France, is the most prominent and most pliable aromatic white grape as it it lends itself to being made into dry or semi-dry wines, still, or sparkling, and is often made into a wide array of dessert wines -- yet few (if any) kosher examples are available from those sources. It too has the crisp acidity similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, but when made as a sweeter wine, that acidity appears subdued and prevents a sweeter wine from coming off as syrupy.

      Viognier is becoming more popular as an alternative to Chardonnay as both lend themselves to making fuller bodied wines and often benefit from oak aging. Although Chardonnay is usually more buttery or oaky, Viognier has more of a flavor of tropical fruits. It's not very common anymore in its native France, but has become more popular in New World regions; several Israeli wineries have successfully dabbled with Viognier as a possible flagship white wine for the region, as it's so easy to get lost in the ocean of Chardonnay that’s flooded wine stores and restaurant wine lists.

     Gewurztraminer is one of the hardest grapes to pronounce, but one of the easiest wines to enjoy. Originally from German speaking villages in Northeast Italy, it gained prominence in the Alsace region of France. Literally it means “spicy traminer.” Traminer is a family of grapes and the spicy doesn't mean hot; it means flavorful -- anyone who has “Gewurz” will tell you, its packed with pleasurable punches of apricot, peach, honey, herbs and most uniquely lychee. Typically as a kosher wine, its being turned into semi-dry table wines and that sweetness is a great complement to match fish as well as spicy Asian cuisine. If you happen upon a bottle from Lueria, Yarden, Gvaot or Gush Etzion wineries, grab it up because they don’t stay on shelves for long.

    Muscat covers a whole range of colors from black to white but in this context we’re talking about the white variations; they are often floral and noticeably the most "grapey" of the aromatic white wines. Muscat Alexdroni has been traced back to the days of Cleopatra and finds its way into many Old World wines. In Israel, it is often used for simpler fruity dessert wines that exhibit notes of honey. Great examples come from Mony and Jerusalem Winery under the Ugav label. Muscat has also found traction, and maybe best shines as the source for slightly sweet slightly sparkling “frizzante” wines. A few Moscato wines from Italy are imported into the United States and Israel, complemented by Israeli examples under the Golan and Dalton labels.

In the wonderful world of Rosé, wines are now coming from all kinds of sources and are usually blends.

Often misunderstood: Rosé wines are made from red wine grapes in one of two methods:

Bleeding – Wine is drained from the fermentation tanks early, before the full color of the skins have set in. This in turn also allows for a deeper, darker color for the wine that remains in the vat.

Pressing – This method leaves the wine together with the skins in the press, until the desired color has been achieved.

In both these methods, the heavy tannins and full body found in the fully developed reds are not present, and when done right,  Rosés will provide a colorful, fresh, crisp wine sure to be enjoyed!

My personal favorites are:

Lueria Rose (Cabernt Sauvignon, Merlot and Barbera)
Light and crisp, this wine is very deserving of the Lueria label. It will work well with Italian herbs and light fish meals.

Har Odem Volcanic Rose (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syra) Coming from the Volcanic soil of the Golan Heights, this vibrant rose has a very appealing spice to it. It will go well with spicy salmon or a cheesy pasta, and can also be enjoyed on its own as an opener.

Bat Shlomo Rose (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot , Cabernet Franc)
Perhaps one of my favorite wineries – Bat Shlomo brings us once again a superb wine, with its strong color strong color and variety of fruit flavors, this Rose will go well with Pasta dishes, Tomato sauces or fruits.

Gvaot Rose (Cabernet Sauvignon)
Dr. Shivi Drori who once said he would never make Rose wine, uses his talents and success in bringing out the fruit forward flavors in his wines, to produce this fine wine. Dark in color (almost red) it will go well with fish or lightly cured meats.

Gamla Reserve Rose (Syrah)
Perhaps the fruitiest of the Rosés on this list, The Rosé is almost a semi dry. However the wine definitely has the hints of Syrah. Slightly creamy in texture, it will serve as great opener while at the same time serve as a complement to summer fruits as well as light dairy meals.

With a wide variety of aromatic whites and refreshing rosés to choose from, stock up your fridge to last you into the fall -- you and any guests will be glad you did.

Come  taste a large variety of summer wines this coming Friday 30/05/14, between 10:00-13:00. We will be sharing these wines at the wine store in the Commercial Center Te'ena, Efrat...sign up at the link below, or at, and get a 10% discount on anything you purchase at the festival!

Join The Fest!

If you would like more specific information, or to consult with us on any other wine matters – just drop by the Wine Store in the Te’ena Commercial Center in Efrat, or email us at

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Discover Bat Shlomo

Just outside Zichron Ya’akov on the southern slopes of Mount Carmel, there is a very picturesque little town by the name of Bat Shlomo.

The village, still featuring its original buildings (and in most cases descendants of the original families that lived there) was established in 1889 as a daughter-settlement of Zichron Ya'akov, founded by Baron Rothschild. It was named after Betty Salomon, the daughter of Salomon Mayer von Rothschild (the Baron's grandfather).

It was here in 1889 that Baron Rothschild planted some of the first vineyards in Israel, which were eventually abandoned.
Fast forward to the modern day. Serial Entrepreneur Elie Wurtman makes Aliyah and soon after achieves significant success in high tech. He then decides to follow his dream and become a ‘chalutz’ by opening his own winery. In his search for the right location, Elie stumbled upon Bat Shlomo and decided to rejuvenate the vines planted over a century ago.
Now came the challenge – 
*How do you make wine?  
*How do you staff the vineyards?

In comes Ari Erle, a friend of Elie’s. Ari studied wine-making for six years in Napa Valley.

Together with some of Elie’s other friends and colleagues, they clean up the Vineyards and plant a proper crop.

Elie then went and purchased one of the original houses in Bat Shlomo with the goal of renovating it and converting it into a Visitors center. In the process, however, he uncovered an ancient Roman house. Once he was granted clearance from the archeologists, he converted that house into the barrel cellar.

Elie then found a school nearby that works with troubled religious kids, and after meeting with the head of the school, a program was started whereby the students study agriculture and the religious laws of farming, combined with working in the vineyards.

So what has come of this project?

Bat Shlomo Sauvignon BlancProbably the best Sauvignon Blanc I have ever tasted. A clear crisp wine with well-balanced citrus flavors, this is a perfect wine for a fish dinner or as a classy wine for a nice hot day. (95 NIS - Click to purchase)

Bat Shlomo Ros
– This perfectly balanced rosé in deep blush, it’s on my list of the top 5 rosés in Israel. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc is sure to compliment pasta, tomato based sauces, or fruit. (95 NIS - Click to purchase)

Bat Shlomo Chardonnay – Complex and buttery, this wine has so many great things going on! For those who don’t want a completely oaked chardonnay, you can’t go wrong! Good to go with heavier cheesy meals or Turkey dinners, or just sit and sip with some good friends on a hot day. (120 NIS - Click to purchase)

Bat Shlomo Betty’s Cuvee - The first red wine from Bat Shlomo – This red blend is exactly the same as the rosé in its composition (The rose is simply removed after a short time and fermented without the skins). This in turn means an even deeper color and texture for the red. The wine is young, and needs substantial time to breathe before drinking. In my opinion this is a great wine for the collector as it will continue to improve in the bottle over the next 4-5 years. If you are this collector – it is a great wine at the great price of 160NIS, as this vintage bottle will be worth much more as it matures. (Click to purchase)

Bat Shlomo Wines are available in restaurants or in the winery, but most exclusively through the Jerusalem Wine Club!

If you would like more specific information, or to consult with us on any other wine matters – just drop by the Wine Store in the Te’ena Commercial Center in Efrat, or email us at

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Choosing a Glass with Class

Walking into a kitchen or housewares store or doing a search online for wine glasses can be a daunting experience. There are so many different shapes, styles and sizes, that it makes it hard to decide which glass you really need or want! Hopefully this short guide will make the decision easier for you to make the right choice.

All components of the wine glass help you to appreciate the wine to its fullest.Most all wine glasses will have a base, a stem, and a bowl.

The base, obviously, allows your glass to stand upright

The stem allows you to hold your wine glass without the heat from your hands warming your wine. (The importance of the temperature of the wine will be discussed in another post. For now, just know that wine needs to be consumed at the right temperature in order to be fully appreciated).

The bowl serves a very important purpose and it is here you will find most of the variation in wine glasses.

Does Size Matter?

There are four basic types of wine glasses, with shapes and sizes designed for the four basic types of wine: red, white, sparkling, and dessert.

Each requires its own glass type for maximum enjoyment of the wine; all good wine glasses are shaped in a way that will direct the wine to the part of your mouth where its flavor will be most appreciated.

The bowls of all wine glasses will be tapered upward with a slightly narrower opening at the top than at the bottom. This shape helps to capture and distribute the wine's aroma toward your mouth and nose.

In all types of wine glasses, both red and white, the bowl must be large enough to swirl your wine, opening it up to more air and releasing its aromas. Swirling your wine is not just for the connoisseur or the haughty – it really does serve a very important purpose. (The effects of swirling and other methods for really opening up and enjoying your wine will be discussed in another post).

You might want to choose two or three different types or sizes of wine glasses. Select smaller wineglasses for white wine and larger glasses for red wine. Generally, more full-bodied wines work best in slightly larger glasses while lighter, fruitier wines can do well in smaller glasses (white wine should not warm up too much before it is consumed, and a smaller bowl helps keep it cooler). As for the size of red wine glasses, the more generous, the better, to allow for a third fill and the rest of the glass permitting aeration. A flute would be best for Sparkling and bubbly wines.

red wine glass bowl will be fuller and rounder with a larger opening to allow you to dip your nose into the glass to detect aroma. As mentioned above, the complex aromas and flavors of red wine demand a glass with a larger surface area so the wine comes in contact with more air.

white wine glass bowl will be more U-shaped and upright allowing the aromas to be released while maintaining a cooler temperature.

Flute used for sparkling wines such as Champagne or Moscato will be upright and narrower to retain the carbonation and capture the flavor in the beverage.

dessert wine glass should be smaller to direct the wine to the back of the mouth so the sweetness doesn't overwhelm. Dessert wines generally have higher alcohol content, making the small glass perfect for a smaller serving.

Glass or Crystal?
To truly appreciate the color and texture of your wine you'll want to purchase wine glasses that are clear and smooth. Taking note of the color of your wine, the “legs” of your wine, and how the light affects your wine are the first steps in evaluating and enjoying it.

The best and most practical wine glass will be made with crystal or thin glass. Crystal or a similar glass (especially blown glass) is preferable because it is thin and light weight. Thicker glass will have a thicker edge, making it difficult to properly sip your wine. However, they are usually stronger and run less of a chance for breakage. This will then become a personal choice, depending on you are looking for more elegance or more long-term use.

For the average wine drinker, one general type of wine glass may be all you need, as you can match the benefits of each to give you basic benefits for any wine. For those who wish to expand their enjoyment, appreciation and knowledge of wine, you may want to invest in the more specific types of wine glasses mentioned above.

You can purchase good wine glasses at a decent price that may be fine for your everyday enjoyment of wine. Alternately, you can spend quite a lot of money on very high-quality stemware that may enhance your wine tasting and drinking experience. Let your wallet and your pallet decide.

If you would like more specific information, or to consult with us on any other wine matters – just drop by the Wine Store in the Te’ena Commercial Center in Efrat, or email us at