Israel’s lost decade for red wine

Well, it has been too long since I have posted and so I thought I would return with a thought that has been really eating away at me for far too long. Which is, it has been more than 10 years since I have tasted a wine from Israel that I would think would actually improve with age. The last ones that I thought could do it were the Flam 2010 and 2011 Noble, the first kosher vintages for the Flam Noble. Sure, you have Domaine Netofa as well, but that is where it ends.

I recently really enjoyed a 2007 Tzora Misty Hills, sadly I cannot say for any of the recent Misty Hills. Sure they are nice wines, but after a few years, they go really ripe and sweet. The 2013 Domaine du Castel Grand Vin is already tasting very sweet and is a drink-up now for my bottles. The 2016 Domaine du Castel was always super ripe to start and I do not have much hope it will last long either. The 2007 Domaine du Castel, that I had a couple of years ago was STUNNING. I will be honest, until maybe a year ago I thought the 2013 Domaine du Castel Grand Vin would live long, but after tasting it recently, that does not seem to be the case. It may well be the case that 2016 will live up to the original drinking window, but with how 2013 turned, and with where 2016 started, I am seriously worried.

This brings me to my point, in the last ten years Israel has produced hundreds of millions of bottles of red wine and I can honestly say I have bought maybe 20 of them, and of those, they are in drink-now mode. Domaine Netofa stands as the only real red wine that can age, but that is sad for a country with so much potential.

The crazy thing is that Israel has the ability to make great wines, it proved it during the aughts and yet they all decided that it is better to go for the least common denominator than for the world-class moniker. I get it, wine is a business and wineries need to hew to where the money is, and right now, that is riper wines. Wines that may well not hold out for a decade, and if they do, they will be riper and as long as the market holds up, all is good.

Israel produces white and sparkling wines that are world-class. Look at Yaakov Oryah’s work, his 2009 Semillon is getting tired but epic, his 2008/2015 Musketeer is INSANE. The 2005 Yarden Blanc de Blanc is crazy good, and the 2007 vintage is even better!

So, while Israel continues its need to push riper wines we have been blessed with many vintages of world-class wines from all around the world, which includes many Israeli white wines from Domaine Netofa and Yaakov Oryah Wines.

Of course, with time everything changes. Ten years ago, we had almost nothing from Europe, and we relied heavily on Israel, Herzog, and Capcanes/Elvi Wines. Now, that has flipped, and if the current batch of wines from Capcanes is a harbinger of what is to come, they too have sold out to the Parker-side of wines.

Sure, temperatures are rising all around the world, but Europe keeps pumping out great wines with higher temps, so nature is not the issue here, in regards to Israel’s desires, it is a market-driven decision and my response is to buy almost nothing of it.

I wish Israel only the best, it is OUR country, it is the land of the Jews, the land of flowing milk and honey, and it is where I feel at home most. I love the land with all my heart, I am just not a fan of the red wines. May we blessed with a year of success, health, family, great friends, and great kosher wines, no matter their origin.

Posted on October 7, 2019, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Industry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Haven’t commented much, but I’m following your blog with much interest, as I’ve never been disappointed by any of your recommendations (and vice versa, I found the wines you didn’t like rather unimpressive).
    So good to see you back 🙂

    I’ve noticed that you haven’t mentioned much Dada and Haroeh wineries. I haven’t had the change to taste their wines myself, but from what I’ve heard from several people whose taste I kind of trust, they should be really good. Ever heard of those?

    • Sadly, neither of them are wines I would buy. I have tasted many of them and yes I can see why some would enjoy them. For me, they all fall in line with Israel’s popular ripe or overripe direction.

  2. Thanks, you’ve just saved me at least 100 NIS, as I was going to order a bottle of Dada, but come to think of it, I’d rather have Netofa Latour for 75 NIS, as I know it’s a lovely wine.
    And I presume same applies to Kishor? Another winery I’ve been curious to try, but have never come across it in any tasting, and I’ve become very cautious when it comes to Israeli reds.

  3. demand is present for quality Israeli wines…but the market won’t pay-up for them…and because of that, vineyards won’t produce at the higher levels…hence, we get riper wines that resonant with the core buying publc — wines that can be produced, sold, and consumed in a single year or two.

    another factor, at least in Israel, is the consumer’s difficulty in keeping wines affordably at optimal temperatures…the warm/hot climate doesn’t let a wine age in bottle just by keeping it in a cupboard, and the investment of a wine frig is often outside of a person’s worldview and budget. better to buy a wine that is drinkable right away, thinks the consumer, than invest in something much more expensive that will sour by the time it is opened.

    coupled with the above, the higher-end kosher wines now come from other, more established and consistent wine-growing regions…and Israeli wineries are reluctant to tackle that market for fear of incurring high production costs and the risk of not getting good enough prices when they take their wines to market.

    one day, i expect that a winery will emerage that will be well-capitalized and bold-enough to tackle the higher-end market…

    i agree with you that Netofa does a remarkable job…they go their own way, and often produce the kind of wines, such as with their Dor series, that i also would like to see from Israeli wineries, as a whole — and frankly, they keep their prices in check…but for many consumers, even an extra 50-100 shekels on top of an average wine bottle cost will have him instead reaching for an over-ripe wine to add to his shopping cart.

    the consumer would definitely go with higher quality if offered/price, at or near the same price as the current middle-to-higher tier Israel wines…

    that said, at the current production numbers, of so many wineries producing across the board, there has to be a settling-out on price…and market penetration of wines as a product — when that plays out, and runs its course, then i expect to see differentiation on the upside in terms of quality…2-5 years from now, is my best guess.

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