The wine hiatus is over and tasting season in New York City is in full swing. The 2004 Brunellos are in and Michael Skurnik had a tasting two weeks ago heralding their arrival. It was mobbed.
But on Tuesday I went to something much more interesting: the first wine tasting of exclusively Israeli wines in the U.S. Held at the Prince George Ballroom in 27th Street. The tasting featured 20 producers who brought with them two to seven wines.
The event was kicked off by a talk from Mark Squires, above, of The Wine Advocate, who discussed the state of selling Israeli wine, as quality has been improving. He did a very good job, and kept it interesting while one of the Capsuto Freres kept interrupting him.The thing about Israeli wine is that is it almost indistinguishable from California wine. OK, that’s not fair, but the main grapes are cabernet and merlot, which as Squires pointed out, are the main ingredients in a wine that comes from a climate far removed from Isreal’s contant hot climate. As many of the winemakers told me, vintage variation is minimal and the greatest impact on quality during the growing season is the possiblity of rain or hail in the spring, which can comprimise fruit set and then affect yields. Otherwise it’s kind of ideal to grow wine, except for the fact that Israelis are purported to drink about one liter of wine per year. If you can hear it, Victor Schoenfeld, winemaker at Golan Heights Winery, talks about the weather.