Kishor Winery – an up and coming kosher winery with an altruistic theme

Kishor Winery Tasting Room with Richard DaviesWhen I first saw Kishor Winery in 2014 and Sommelier, I loved their whites, but what one really remembers the second you say Kishor Winery must be its winemaker; Richard Davies – a gregarious man with a smile that matches his easy-going South African accent. Davies was there when the vines went down, in 2010, three years before he came to Kishor.

But I am getting ahead of myself, before we get to the winery let’s talk about Kishorit! As their website says:

Kibbutz Kishor was founded by the Shomer Hatza’ir youth movement in the late 1970s. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to settle the isolated, rocky mountain-ridge, the kibbutz was abandoned. In 1997, after lengthy negotiations with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Kibbutz movement, Kishorit was founded on the land of the former Kibbutz Kishor.

Today, Kibbutz Kishor is experiencing a complete revival as nearly 80 mainstream kibbutz members have begun to build their homes alongside the Kishorit members. The members of the rejuvenated Kibbutz Kishor and the members of Kishorit will enjoy a fully integrated community, with private residential areas and shared public spaces, celebrations, work, social activities and communal life. Kishor and Kishorit are championing a revolutionary model of rehabilitation and inclusion of people with special needs into the community.

The idea for the integrated community stems from the holistic vision of Kishorit’s founders. We believe in a supportive, integrated community that provides for the separate, individual and unique needs of each group, but encourages inclusion wherever and whenever it is possible and beneficial.

I drove to the winery to meet Davies and his marketing agent – Yair Una. I can personally say that the kibbutz is quite lovely, with tree-lined lanes and idyllic homes surrounded by large swaths of open expanses and parks. Davies arrived in 2007 and went to work in the orchards, but when the UJA came knocking and promised to fund an agricultural expansion – they jumped all over it. The vines went in two phases, 2007 and 2010. The first planting in 2007 was Bordeaux grapes, but in 2010 they expanded to include Rhone varietals that make up much of the winners in the past few years. Throughout it all Davies has been part of the winery, and when it was time to make wine – he took over as winemaker, while continuing to manage the vines.

Still, the man is smart enough to ask for good council, and thankfully that is readily available in Israel now – wine consultants that have been helping many a winery. In this case, the consultant Davies uses is one of the country’s best; Itay Lahat. He also helps at Gush Etzion where they are making great white wines, and Tura Winery to name a few. The whites at Gush Etzion and at Kishor show the deft hand of Lahat, where bright fruit and pith are a common adjectives to their wines.

While the winery is a training ground for the members of Kishorit, the winery’s pure purpose is not just to help its community members, it is also to be a great winery. Now, I never said both cannot be accomplished, what I am saying is that exact concept – they are NOT mutually exclusive! A world-class kosher winery with adults with special needs is 100% possible and proof is that the 2014 whites are great wines. Actually 2012 and 2013 whites were very nice, as I have already posted about in the past. But the 2014 vintage – both reds and whites – are on a totally different level! I would say it is a combination of the vines coming into their own, along with fact that the vintage is great, and a few more years for Lahat and Davies to come to learn the vines and varietals.

Another interesting fact is that these wines are estate bottled! The grapes were planted by Kishor and they are right outside of the community! There are not many large scale vineyards in this area. The kibbutz is located in the Galilee, and while that may sound like a very common location for wineries and vineyards, those are normally associated with the upper Galilee, Golan Heights, and lower Galilee as well. But the location of this lovely kibbutz is in the Galilee, but lower down than the Upper Galilee and closer to the Med than any other winery in the Galilee that I know of. Vitkin winery is very close to Kishor Winery – physically, but they source their grapes from all over.

When I got to the winery, Davies and Yair were there, as was the mashgiach, and we got to tasting wines. I was on a crazy tight schedule – so I tasted the 2015 wines that were not at sommelier, but I did not retaste the rose and such. I will be tasting it again soon. So, the wines that I had at Sommelier and are noted here with a note about where they were tasted. To me the epic wine of the tasting was the insane 2014 red bordeaux blend. Again, 2014 is the year for Kishor, it is the year where all the ducks seem to be lined up for the good, and it shows that the winery could well be a beacon for what a winery in Israel can be when it comes to red wines.

When you look at how far the winery has come in such little time, it is really impressive indeed! The first vines were dropped into the ground in 2007, add three years for Jewish laws and the first vintage was 2010. The varietals in 2007 were all Bordeaux grapes, and some Riesling as well. I have never had a chance to taste wine from that vintage, but there were just 8K bottles so I do not know how much of that vintage is still around. But even the 2012 vintage that I tasted of the Semi sweet Riesling showed that the winery had potential – even in the early years.

In 2010 the winery planted more grapes, this time varietals that I think are the future of Israel Rhone varietals! Viognier, Grenache, Marselan, Syrah, and others. All together, the Bordeaux and Riesling grapes make up some 45 dunam while the Rhone varietals come in at 33. The varietals consist of; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier. The 2012 vintage brought in 20K bottles, while 2015 came in at 45K, doubling on shmita – good thing they are good wines!! Long term the desire is to double again to 85K and then that should be what the facility holds.

Sadly, to me the reds from 2013 were not to the level of the 14 vintages. Still, the GSM from 2014 is already been released and is a wine worth getting! I also see, from their web page, that the red 2014 wines have all been released which is really great news! It means that you can now get their best reds and whites, and they are also available in the USA through IsraelWineDirect!

If the product keeps improving as it has and the prices stay the same I am sure they will be able to reach their goal of 85K bottles. My many thanks for the ability to taste the wines at Sommelier and at the winery, the wine notes follow below:

2015 Kishor Rose – Score: NA (tasted at Sommelier in Jan 2016 and then tasted again in June) (shmita wine)
The wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Syrah, the grapes were picked early and specifically for the rose. They were then fermented in old wood barrels (like Agur does), and then left on their lees for 4 months. The wine at sommelier was awesome, but we got a bottle from a good shop and it was tasted blind as part of a large lineup of rose and white wines from Israel 2015 and it was really not showing well. Not at the tasting or three hour later, so sad. The bright notes were there, but the sweetness seemed fat and flabby and the balance was lost.

2014 Kishor Kerem White – Score: A- (tasted at Sommelier in Jan 2016)
The wine is a blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Viognier. The nose on this lovely wine is intoxicating with great spice, fresh ripe and tart fruit, straw, mineral, and dirt. The mouth on this full bodied wine is filled with floral notes from the Viognier, along with great honey notes, nice spice, cloves, ripping acid, pear, peach, apricot and herb. The finish is long and tart with orange pith and spice – NICE!!

2014 Kishor Viognier – Score: A- (and more) (tasted at Sommelier in Jan 2016)
This Viognier is a bit better than the 2013, though missing a drop of the acid that was in the 2013. Overall the fruit and structure is better even with a drop less acid than in the 2013.

The nose on this lovely wine is is rich and floral with peach and spice. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is rich and weighty with honeysuckle, rose, great herb, more spice, with cloves, cinnamon, candied and spiced sweet peach, white pepper and acid. The finish is long and acidic with a nice bite and punch, with honeyed notes, pear, and tart finish.

2014 Kishor Savant Red – Score: A- to A (tasted at winery in late february 2016)
This is the best wine that Kishor has made to date – insanely impressive. The wine tastes like a Bordeaux wine, not an Israeli wine in any way, very old school in nature!! The wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% of Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
The nose on this lovely wine starts off green in nature, but is followed by ripe fruit and rich mineral. The mouth on this full bodied wine is both elegant and powerful at the same time. The mouth starts off with really crazy rich extraction, followed by crazy graphite, blackberry and green notes from the franc, truly elegant and layered, lovely red berry, rich fruit, raspberry, plum all wrapped in rich saline and mineral with mouth drenching tannin. The finish is long and green with spice, chocolate, green foliage, more mineral, herb, mushroom and forest floor. BRAVO!!!

2014 Kishor Syrah – Score: A- (and some) (tasted at winery in late february 2016)
Really nice and black with saline and black Olive with spice and tar. Full body layers and extraction with great finesse and with blueberry and green notes and mushroom. second year of vines. Lovely full body with saline and mineral and nice butterscotch with cedar and dill and plum with sweet spice and lovely long finish of coffee and sweet herb and spices. Lovely tar.

2015 Kishor Kerem White – Score: A- (tasted at winery in late february 2016) (shmita wine)
This wine is a blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Viognier. This wine is another example of how well the winery is coming along with its wine wines! The nose on this wine shows very vibrant Sauvignon Blanc notes to start, with tart fruit, gooseberry, cats pee, along with notes from the Viognier; with peach, apricot, and lovely lemon and citrus. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows lovely tart and rich fruit, with ripping acid, along with intense spice, green notes, along with pink grapefruit, nectarines, with acid, slate, sweet honey, honeysuckle, and floral notes. Lovely!

2015 Kishor Viognier – Score: A- (and then some) (tasted at winery in late february) (shmita wine)
This wine was barrel fermented and left on its lees for six months. The nose on this wine explodes with classic peach, honeyed notes, floral notes, and citrus. The mouth on this medium bodied wine feels heavier from the lovely viscous mouthfeel, with rich fruit, nice honey notes, more fruity than 2014 with ripe melon and pear, lovely acid, ripe Asian apple, lovely juicy fruit and really lovely floral notes, with ripe summer fruit and mineral and slate. Bravo the wine is a peach and melon paradise. The finish lingers long with great white pepper, sweet spices, and a lovely rich attack. BRAVO!!


Posted on June 9, 2016, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

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