This last year has been a significant one for Israeli and kosher wines. After years of concerted efforts to change the perception of critics and consumers, the breakthrough finally came in December of 2007, when Robert Parker's Wine Advocate heaped praise on Israeli wines, including kosher varietals, awarding 14 wines with a huge "90" (rated outstanding) score.
The Wine Spectator followed suit in June, with a glowing article about Israel's "Moment in the Sun," a narrative on Israel's wine revolution.
As importer of many high-quality Israeli wines, from popular, well-known wineries as well as boutique houses, Royal Wine Corporation is equally excited about the newfound respect and attention conferred upon Israeli and kosher wines. While there are too many great new wines to list here, the following selections should whet your appetite.
· Barkan Tempranillo 2005, (barrel-aged): The first reserve wine from the vineyard adjacent to the winery. Dark in color, almost opaque, the aroma bursts with forest fruit, joined by sweet spices, and laced with vanilla and coconut.
· Segal's Special Reserve Cabernet 2004: From grapes grown in the Upper Galilee, this wine was aged for 18 months in French and American barrels, resulting in a deep, ruby-colored wine with an aroma of ripe black plums, cherries and cassis, and notes of cinnamon and vanilla spice. This rich, full-bodied vintage has soft, concentrated tannins and pairs well with roast beef or lamb.
· Flechas De Los Andes Gran Malbec 2007: Produced by a partnership of Rothschild and Dessault (Château Clarke and Château Dassault, respectively) and made from only Malbec grapes, this wine is dominated by fresh fruit aromas with touches of morello, cherry, plum and cassis. Round and smooth, with particularly fine and velvety tannins.
· Barons Edmund and Benjamin Rothschild Haut Medoc 2005: This latest Bordeaux, a blend of Cabernet and Merlot, is mevushal and was cultivated at the Château Clark Estate. The wine breathes red-fruit aromas, such as berry and cherry, and displays a dark, ruby hue with flavors underscored by a distinctly woody taste.
· Capcanes Peraj Ha'abib 2005: From Spain, this intense, highly rated blended wine shows dark red with vibrant, bright aromas of plum and black cherry. Distinct berry flavors follow with deep and impressive fruit overtones. A truly sophisticated choice of a rich, full-bodied wine.
· Goose Bay Pinot Gris: This recent New Zealand offering leads off with a crisp, fruity edge that perks up one's taste buds. As the palate absorbs the flavors filled with white peach, pears, apples and spice, one experiences the firm structure of this well-balanced wine.
· Herzog Reserve Syrah Edna Valley 2005: An award-winning varietal from California, the 2005 is no exception, as it scooped up medals in wine competitions in San Diego, Pacific Rim, BTI and Los Angeles. Winemaker Joe Hurliman claims this varietal as his favorite, and it lives up to its well-deserved reputation. It is a beautifully crafted wine in the style of Northern Rhone, displaying aromas of berry and spice. Plenty of fruit-forward flavors, plums and berries, with just a hint of white pepper in the mouth.
On the West Coast, Weinstock Cellars launches two new wines. The leader, simply titled White by W, delivers a pleasing introduction with tangy grapefruit aromas and lively floral notes. White-peach flavors abound with this versatile, refreshing wine.
The 2006 edition of Zion's Cabernet Sauvignon, in their Erez series, has been enthusiastically received. Elegant yet full-bodied, the silky flow runs smooth, displaying blackberries and a tantalizing nuance of tobacco. Lingers on the satisfying finish.
From the Herzog Wine Cellars in California's Central Coast comes a new release — Baron Herzog Contour 2007. This value wine delivers a characteristic California taste, revealing intense, floral aromas with strong notes of fresh nectarine and toasty vanilla. This well-balanced wine has a crisp and refreshing finish.