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