The other Saturday, we went to a wine tasting at Block 7 devoted to Israeli wines. We hadn't really heard of Israeli wines but were assured that we would love them. A few glasses later, we were hooked. We even took a few bottles home, and it wasn't in an alcohol-induced shopping frenzy.
In the last 25 years, the Israeli wine industry has boomed, growing from 20 wineries to 250. Jim Veal, Director of Trade and Investment Promotion for the Israeli Government, calls Israel the "birthplace of wine." So, why is Israel perfect for wine? It has great soil and climate.
Our favorites of the afternoon were the Flam Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay 2008 and the Tzora, Shoresh Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Both of these wines come from wineries established in the early 1990s.
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The Flam Winery is one of the larger wineries in Israel, producing about 100,000 bottles a year. Its Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend is unoaked, so you won't find that toasty vanilla flavor of California-style Chardonnay. This one is light, with a citrusy flavor that's delicious alone or with food.
Tzora, Shoresh Cabernet Sauvignon comes from one of the more popular wineries in Israel. The young winemaker, Eran Pick, has already made a name for himself in the wino circles. Educated at The University of California - Davis, Pick returned home to create one of the leading terroir-driven wineries in Israel.
Israeli wine is still a bit difficult to find. You can find it at The Tasting Room, Carmelo's and 13 Celsius. It's worth taking a trip to one of these places to find this New World wine from an Old World area.