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A Masterclass In Kosher Israeli Wine: Review And UK Special Offer

israeli wine uk

The consumption of wine has a long and noble lineage in the eastern Mediterranean, while wine, of course, enjoys a high profile in Biblical tradition. In Roman times, wine from Israel was exported to Rome, to tickle the tastebuds of the wealthy and powerful.

But despite its ancient origins, modern wine production in Israel made barely a blip on the radar until the 1990s. Before that, Israeli wineries mostly made boiled wines for sacramental use, and I must admit I didn’t have much experience of Israeli or kosher wine myself… until now.

When I consulted my wine library at home, I found disappointingly little about it. Israeli wine, for instance, doesn’t feature at all in the Wine Folly Magnum book and gets only a few paragraphs in the comprehensive 400-page World Atlas of Wine (perhaps I should update to the latest edition).

However, over the last twenty years, the Israeli wine industry has expanded rapidly, and today there are around 300 wineries in regions across Israel. So I was interested to see that my friends over in the Czech Republic, 8wines.com, stock a generous selection of varieties from the Judean Hills region, near Jerusalem. And I’m pleased to say they sent me three to try.

Use the Wine Ninjas’ discount code WNINJAS8 at the checkout at www.8wines.com and you’ll get £12 off any orders over £100.

All three were reds, all very different in taste, but all done in a similar style to Bordeaux: ie, blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a few other grapes lobbed into the mix. This French influence is not surprising when you learn that the modern Israeli wine industry was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, owner of the prestigious Bordeaux estate Château Lafite-Rothschild. But how do the wines compare to their western-European cousins?

israeli wine uk

Kosher Wine

All the wines featured here are kosher. To qualify for kosher status, a wine must only be handled by observant Jews from the time the grapes are crushed, unless it’s boiled or pasteurised. Of course, kosher wine also cannot contain any non-kosher ingredients or fining agents, like gelatin or isinglass. In case you were wondering, these factors do nothing to affect the taste.

The Wines

First up was the beautifully labelled Flam Classico 2017 (pictured centre above). Flam winery has a prestigious reputation, and its Cabernet reserve in the Judean hills was included in French wine publication La Revue Du Vin France’s list of 100 outstanding wines. This one is medium in body and made from grapes grown at high altitude in the Judean Hills, comprising of Cabernet Sauvignon (47%), Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

That’s quite some cuvée, and with its level of complexity it does taste somewhat like Bordeaux on steroids. It was aged for 10 months in French and American oak, and the barrels’ vanilla flavour really comes across, alongside notes of raspberry, blackberry, cherry and spice. 8wines give this one 92 points, I give it 4 NINJA STARS
Flam Classico 2017, 14% vol. £24.68 at the time of writing from 8wines.com

Although made with a similar grape combination in a nearby region, and in a similar Old World style, the Domaine Du Castel La Vie Rouge 2017 stands in stark contrast to the Flam. It’s an impressive demonstration of how varied Israeli wines can be. This one is from Yad Hashmona, west of Jerusalem, and made from grapes grown at a lofty 700 metres.

Cabernet Sauvignon again dominates, with support from Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot. The big difference here, is that it was aged for a year in concrete tanks instead of oak, preserving its fruitiness. As expected, the result is a VERY fruit-forward wine, with luscious flavours of blackcurrant, blueberry, cherry, strawberry, and dash of menthol. Perfect for fruit fans like me. 8wines gave this 91 points. My score is 4.5 NINJA STARS
14% vol. £21.96 at the time of writing from 8wines.com

The Tzora Judean Hills 2017 (pictured right, above) really was a pleasant surprise, deftly combining the best of the other two wines. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Merlot, it offers delicious black fruit, raspberty and black pepper flavours alongside subtle oak integration. For me, it’s perfectly balanced, smooth and fruity, with a slight touch of sweetness, a lingering finish and bags of character and sophistication. This was my personal favourite. 8wines give this one 92 points, I award it 5 NINJA STARS
14.5% vol. £26.35 at the time of writing from 8wines.com

All three of these wines are impressive examples of high-level winemaking. I’m really looking forward to trying some whites next time.

Special Offer

Use the Wine Ninjas’ discount code WNINJAS8 at the checkout at www.8wines.com and you’ll get £12 off any orders over £100.

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