Parker heaps praise and points on IsraelJanuary 3, 2008
By Richard Woodard
Israel's wineries are celebrating after Robert Parker's Wine Advocate awarded 14 of the country's wines 90 or more points.
Two wines – Yatir Winery's Yatir Forest 2003 red and Golan Heights Winery's Gewurztraminer 2005 dessert wine – scored 93 points in the Wine Advocate, Parker's highly influential journal.
These are claimed as the highest scores ever given by Parker to wines from the Eastern Mediterranean, including Greece and Lebanon.
The scores also match the highest mark given by Parker to a kosher wine.
In the Wine Advocate's first-ever generic tasting of Israeli wines, Parker lieutenant Mark Squires said, '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.'
Carmel, Israel's oldest and largest winery, and its Yatir subsidiary scored 90-plus points with four of its wines, while Domaine du Castel did so with three wines, including C Blanc du Castel 2005, the highest-scoring dry white wine with 91 points.
Golan Heights Winery and subsidiary Galil Mountain also scored 90-plus points with three wines, while Pelter, Tzora, Tulip and Clos de Gat were also among the top producers.
All but three of the wines, including the top six, were kosher. Most were Bordeaux blends, three were Syrah/Shiraz, and three were dessert wines. Only three came from Golan Heights vineyards, and just two from the Upper Galilee area.
Carmel Wineries CEO Israel Ivzan said the rankings could mean potential sales 'on a massive scale', with more and more consumers getting to know Israeli wines and exports of quality wines likely to increase markedly.
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It is good news to hear that mister Parker gets into politics....Regards and Happy New Year !
I'd like to see a second opinion, especially from Decanter. Is it, 'poof', they're in the WA 90's or did they hire wine consultants, or did they use a freighter of soil from the Rhone?
It is unfortunate that virtually no mention of Israel is without some thought of politics as per anon above, however in wine politics, Parker is a dictator......of taste. I hear a generic tasting of Uzbek wines is in the works.
C Wells, Atlanta, GA, USA
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I have known Domaine du Castel for many years and drunk a bottle of their 1999 red Bordeaux blend last week. It was perfect and had still some potential for aging. All the people round the table agreed that its quality was as good as some top Bordeaux crus, hence I am not surprised by the top marks awarded by Parker.
It is not Parker heaping the praise. Its the Wine Advocate. Big difference.
A. Skroback, New York, USA
Having just returned from one week of winery touring in Israel in late November that included extensive tastings, I can say with confidence that the Israeli wine industry is firmly on the path to quality wine production. The (very recent) movement is related to neither religion nor politics. The kosher question is, for most producers, a non-issue, in fact one from which many are trying to distance themselves. Many are simply trying to make "quality wines that happen to also be kosher" as Adam Montefiore of Carmel winery put it. It is an economic reality that wineries producing more than 100,000 bottles annually need to consider going kosher, though many smaller ones, like the excellent Margalit Winery, sell out easily without the kashrut seal of approval. No doubt Mr. Parker's report will further the industry's goal of positioning Israeli wines in an "Eastern Mediterranean" section on wine shop shelves and restaurant wine lists as opposed to the kosher section. And it will be well deserved. After all, Israel has developed, out of necessity, many of the viticultural techniques such as above and under ground drip irrigation that has made wine growing possible in many new world regions. The high score are also not surprising, given the often very generous, concentrated and forward style of many Israeli wines.
John Szabo, Master Sommelier
It is about time that the Israeli producers received some recognition for the quality of the wines they are producing today. Vintage on vintage the quality is improved and refined. Ignore the fact that they are Kosher, please give them shelf space as wine from Israel as we do with all other wine producing regions. In fact the Domaine du Castel Grand Vin is available as non Kosher also. I would welcome a second opinion from Decanter. If I can be of any assistance please call.