By Joshua E. London
Kosher wines have collected some impressive scores and some remarkable praise in the wine press the past decade. The latest impressive review comes from The Wine Enthusiast’s April 2015 issue, including more than 30 Israeli wines. None of them received a rating lower than 85, and 16 of them received scores of 90 or higher.
A 90-point or higher score from The Wine Enthusiast can be thought of as an award of excellence from the panel of tasters employed by that magazine. In its rankings, a score of 87 to 89 is “very good” and “well recommended,” while 90 to 93 is “excellent” and “highly recommended.” Above that is, well, above that.
Two wines, Tzuba 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and Alexander 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc, won Editor’s Choice, and two others, Carmel 2013 Selected Sauvignon Blanc and Carmel 2013 Selected Cabernet Sauvignon, were named Best Buys by the prestigious magazine.
For decades wine critics have recognized Israel’s ability to produce world-class wines, but this review appears to have taken the recognition one step further. The highly rated wines come from virtually all of Israel’s wine-growing regions. The Galilee and Judean Hills have been noted wine regions for years, but now the Upper Negev/Judea, Shomron and other regions have shown that they can produce wines of high regard.
“Best value is a rarity in any review, and so when that best value comes from Israel, it’s even more astounding, although not surprising to me,” said Jay Buchsbaum, the director of wine education for Royal Wine, which imports Carmel wines.
“We always knew our wines could compete on the world stage; now everyone else knows it too,” said Joshua Greenstein, who heads the Israel Wine Producers Association.
If you see a kosher wine with a high score, it means that some wine expert or panel of experts — folks who spend most of their time evaluating nonkosher wine from around the globe — tasted that kosher wine and thought it deserving of praise. Whether you agree is your prerogative. The scores are not there to tell you what to like, only to suggest that such a wine is one you might like. Taste for yourself to find out. L’chaim!
The following are the scores The Wine Enthusiast awarded to Israeli wines in its April 2015 issue:
|93||Shiloh Winery||2010 Legend red blend||Judean Hills||$40|
|92||Domaine du Castel||2011 Grand Vin Bordeaux-style red blend||Haut-Judeé||$75|
|92||Madmon||2012 Soreka Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon||Shomron||$30|
|92||Tzuba*||2009 Cabernet Sauvignon||Judean Hills||$30|
|92||Alexander*||2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc||Galilee||$40|
|91||Shiloh Winery||2010 Legend II red blend||Judean Hills||$40|
|91||Flam||2011 Reserve Syrah||Galilee||$50|
|91||Psagot||2011 Edom Bordeaux-style red blend||Judean Hills||$38|
|91||Flam||2011 Reserve Merlot||Galilee||$70|
|91||Psagot||2011 Psagot Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon||Jerusalem Hills||$75|
|91||Carmel||2011 Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon||Galilee||$20|
|91||Psagot||2011 Cabernet Franc||Judean Hills||$35|
|91||Domaine Netofa||2011 Syrah-Mourvèdre||Galilee||$25|
|90||Shiloh Winery||2011 Shor Barbera||Judean Hills||$32|
|90||Psagot||2011 Cabernet Sauvignon||Judean Hills||$35|
|90||Tulip Winery||2012 Just Cabernet Sauvignon||Galilee||$25|
|90||Tulip Winery||2011 Black Tulip Bordeaux-style red blend||Galilee||$80|
|90||Domaine Netofa||2011 Latour Netofa Estate Bottled Syrah-Mourvèdre||Galilee||$45|
|90||Psagot||2012 Merlot||Judean Hills||$26|
|90||Alexander||2009 The Great Amarolo red blend||Israel||$120|
|90||Flam||2012 Classico Bordeaux-style red blend||Judean Hills||$35|
|90||Segal’s||2009 Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon||Galilee||$75|
|90||Tulip Winery||2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon||Galilee||$45|
|90||Tzuba||2012 Chardonnay||Judean Hills||$25|
|90||Yatir||2010 Petit Verdot||Judean Hills||$45|
|90||Tulip Winery||2011 Mostly Shiraz||Galilee||$40|
|90||Barkan||2011 Special Reserve Winemakers’ Choice Merlot||Galilee||$25|
|90||Alexander||2012 Sandro red blend||Upper Galilee||$25|
|90||Barkan||2011 Special Reserve Winemakers’ Choice Shiraz||Galilee||$25|
|90||Carmel||2010 Carmel Mediterranean red blend||Galilee||$60|
|90||Barkan||2012 Special Reserve Winemakers’ Choice Chardonnay||Judean Hills||$25|
|89||Shiloh Winery||2012 Chardonnay||Judean Hills||$27|
|89||Domaine Netofa||2013 Estate Bottled Rosé||Galilee||$21|
|89||Domaine Netofa||2013 Estate Bottled Chenin Blanc||Galilee||$25|
|89||Carmel#||2013 Selected Sauvignon Blanc||Galilee||$11|
|89||Carmel#||2013 Selected Cabernet Sauvignon||Shomron||$11|
|89||Tulip Winery||2013 White Franc white blend||Judean Hills||$30|
|89||Barkan||2011 Special Reserve Winemakers’ Choice Cabernet Sauvignon||Galilee||$25|
|88||Tulip Winery||2013 White Tulip white blend||Galilee||$25|
|88||Flam||2013 Rosé||Judean Hills||$35|
|88||Montefiore||2011 Karem Moshe red blend||Judean Hills||$50|
|86||Carmel||2012 Single Vineyard Kayoumi Vineyard White Riesling||Galilee||$30|
|86||Shiloh Winery||2011 Secret Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon||Judean Hills||$40|
|85||Tzuba||2010 Metzuda Syrah||Judean Hills||$30|
|85||Psagot||2012 Chardonnay||Judean Hills||$25|
* Editors’ Choice; # Best Buy
A Taste for Scoring
The best method for exploring wine is to taste it — as often as possible and preferably with good food, friends and family. Because there are so many different wines, however, specialists and wine critics have emerged to help consumers make sense of it all.
There are, of course, detractors to the basic concept of scoring anything in matters of taste. Wine is subjective to a degree, and what I like might not be what you like. On the other hand, this is true of a great many things, yet we can and do still speak to each other meaningfully, intelligently and to our mutual benefit about our tastes, our preferences and our experiences.
Indeed, what better way to expand our horizons and learn more about each other than to converse about our individual perceptions and judgments? Our social interaction would be rather dull if we didn’t share our judgements with one another.
The wine critic simply professionalizes this impulse.
In the late 1970s, Robert M. Parker Jr., a lawyer in Monkton, Md., began The Wine Advocate, a consumer newsletter of wine evaluation. Owing to wine’s many variables in quality and character, he decided on a 100-point scale. Given the 100-point scale used in American education, he figured consumers would readily understand that, say, while an 85-point wine might be good, a 90- or 93-point wine would be better.
Points are awarded for a wine’s appearance, color, aroma, body, flavor, overall quality and the like. Other influential publications have adopted this 100-point wine scale, such as The Wine Spectator and The Wine Enthusiast, both venerable specialty publications designed to give consumers informed, expert opinions on wine.
While each publication’s exact scale differs slightly, they all essentially function in this way.