Historic Tasting for Israel!
The Wine Advocate's first generic tasting of Israeli wines resulted in a resounding success, which will encourage the whole industry. The Wine Advocate is the mouthpiece of Robert Parker , the world's most powerful and influential wine critic.
No less than 14 wines scored over 90 points. This has always been the mythical barrier between a good international class and a world class wine. Much to the frustration of Israeli wineries, the Wine Spectator magazine has only once scored an Israeli wine with more than 89 points. Furthermore, Robert Parker has not formally tasted and written about Israeli wines until now.
According to the Wine Advocate, a wine scoring between 90 95 points, is: An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines. So the tasting represented a real breakthrough. It showed that Israeli wines have arrived on the world map as quality wines in their own right. Also the top six wines and eleven of the leading fourteen, were all kosher. This has finally layed to rest, once and for all, the prevailing stereotype that a kosher wine, by definition, cannot be a world class wine.
The best red wine of the tasting was Yatir Forest 2003, Judean Hills, Yatir Winery with 93 points.
The best white wine was C' Blanc du Castel 2005, Judean Hills, Domaine du Castel with 91 points.
The best dessert wine was Yarden HeightsWine 2005, Galilee, Golan Heights Winery with 93 points.
Ninety three points is the highest ever score awarded by Robert Parker to any wine produced in the Eastern Mediterranean (including Greece , Lebanon & Israel .) It also equals the best ever score awarded by Robert Parker for a kosher wine. (The Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 from California also received 93 points.)
The most successful wineries were:
Carmel & its subsidiary Yatir which together achieved over 90 points for no less than four wines.
Castel scored over 90 points for all three of its wines.
The Golan Heights Winery and its subsidiary Galil Mountain combined achieved over 90 for three wines
The surprises were the excellent scores achieved by Pelter , Tulip and Tzora .
The wines were selected for the tasting by a panel of Daniel Rogov , Israelis pre-eminent wine critic, ex sommelier Avi Ben Ami and wine personality, Yair Hajdu . Special thanks are due to Hezi Levy and John Zion . They encouraged all the main wineries to send wine and organized the logistics.
The tasting was conducted by Mark Squires, an important part and veteran of Robert Parker's team, and the great man himself tasted the better wines. The conclusion by Mark Squires included the following words: The corner has been turned qualitatively. Israel has a real wine industry that deserves consumer attention. These are attractive wines with typicity and some distinction. Many are classic and charming and the best will impress anyone. In his summary, Mark Squires makes some valuable comments.
Amongst them was the point that Israel has to be more outward looking to be competitive in international markets. Either quality has to go up or the prices go down.
The scores of the wines that passed the crucial 90 barrier are listed below. Interestingly three of the fourteen wines are dessert wines, which indicate this is a style of wine Israel makes well. There is only one dry white wine. Most of the wines are Bordeaux blends and there were three Shiraz / Syrah wines on this exclusive list. Surprisingly only three of the wines come from Golan Heights vineyards and only two outright from Upper Galilee vineyards. Only one wine is made by a truly small boutique winery.
There have been two key events in the evolving revolution of Israeli wine. The first was the founding of Carmel by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1882, using French expertise. This was the beginning of a modern Israeli wine industry. The second was the founding of the Golan Heights Winery in 1983, using Californian expertise, which heralded the quality revolution. It could be that the Parker/ Squires/ Wine Advocate tasting is the next major event which heralds an international, quality recognition. This 2007 tasting may have a similar effect on the future direction of Israeli wines, as the famous 1976 tasting had on Californian wines.
2003 Yatir Winery Yatir Forest 93
2005 Golan Heights Winery Gewurztraminer Heights Wine Yarden 93
2006 Tzora Vineyards Or Dessert Wine 92
2004 Domaine du Castel Grand Vin 92
2005 Domaine du Castel C' Blanc du Castel 91
2003 Golan Heights Winery Katzrin Yarden 91
2003 Galil Mountain Yiron 90
2003 Yatir Winery Cabernet Merlot Shiraz 90
2004 Carmel Winery Limited Edition 90
2005 Tulip Syrah Reserve 90
2004 Pelter Shiraz T Selection 90
2005 Domaine du Castel Petit Castel 90
2004 Clos de Gat Syrah Sycra 90
2005 Carmel Winery Gewurztraminer Sha'al Vineyard 90