3000+ Years of Winemaking: Israel’s best

SINGLE VINEYARDS Volcano, Merlot 2020. This 100% Merlot dry red wine has a complex and powerful nose, with aroma notes of red and black fruits, black pepper, mint, and licorice. It boasts a fresh and ripe taste with a full to medium body, balanced tannins, and a long, refreshing finish. Pairs perfectly with roasted lamb chops, roast beef or smoked cheddar cheese. Sourced from the Upper Galilee vineyard, this wine is a testament to the passion and precision of the Carmel Winery team. Their Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a winner, made from grapes that are all harvested from the Admon vineyard in Israel’s Galilee. The cool climate, altitude, and rich Terra Rossa soil produce grapes of exceptional quality. The wine is aged 15 months in French oak barrels. The appearance is a rich dark purple and possesses complex aromas of red fruit, tobacco, and mint. The palate is full-bodied with rich fruit flavors and a long well-balanced finish. Pairs well with lamb and flavorful grilled meats.

PSAGOT Sinai White M Series 2021: delicately floral, fruity, refreshing and elegant; aromas of rose petals, melon and citrus, a fresh blend of Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Carmel Appellation, Cabernet Sauvignon Gaiilee 2020, a dry red with powerful mouth feel, intense fruit and berries. The finish emphasizes the balance of tannin, acidity and French oak.

CARMEL Private Collection 2019, Winemakers Blend, a complex cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with fragrant aromas of blackberry and plum, with hints of spice and a long, lingering finish.

SHILOH Secret Reserve Petite Sirah 2019: The harvest of the Petite Sirah grapes for this Secret Reserve Petite Sirah is carefully done by hand and at night from the best vineyards in the Holy Land. This wine was aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months. Only the best barrels are chosen before bottling. Deep purple in color, with amazing notes of fruits and spices. The palate shows nuanced, complex fruit flavors, making this beautifully balanced wine the ideal choice for those seeking only the best. Due to its distinctiveness and structure, aging will further enhance its taste. To keep its outstanding quality, this wine is unfiltered.

The Israeli wine story begins in the Middle East over 5000 years ago. In the Bible, Noah is noted as discovering the method for making wine. In the book of Deuteronomy, the fruit of the vine is listed as one of the seven blessed species of fruit found in the land of Israel.

Israel’s combination of sun, hills, and mountainous areas features soils of limestone, terra rossa (reddish, clay to silty soil with neutral pH conditions with good drainage characteristics), and volcanic tuff creating a winemaking paradise. The fertile part of the country has a Mediterranean climate consisting of long hot dry summers and short cool rainy winters with snow occasionally appearing on the higher elevations, especially the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Judean Hills. The Negev Desert covers more than half the country and there are semi-arid areas. The major impact of the climate is the Mediterranean Sea with winds, rain, and humidity coming from the west. Rain in the winter is very limited and because of rain shortages during the growing season, drip feed irrigation is essential. This technique was pioneered by the Israelis in the early 1960s and is now used throughout the world.

Currently, Carmel is the largest winery in Israel, and one we admire greatly. Carmel had a humble beginning. The organization started in 1895 and exported wines to Poland, Austria, Great Britain, and the US. In 1902, Carmel Mizrahi was started in Palestine to market and distribute wines to the cities of the Ottoman Empire.

By the end of the 19th century, Carmel wines were good enough to be presented at the International Exhibition of Berlin at a pavilion devoted to the industries of the Jewish colony in Palestine. Thousands visited the exhibition and had a sip of Carmel’s Rishon Le Zion wine. One year later, another exhibition was held in Hamburg where the settlers’ wines were well received and Rishon LeZion won a gold medal at the Paris World’s Fair (1900). At the beginning of the 20th century, Carmel expanded its operation with branches in Damascus, Cairo, Beirut, Berlin, London, Warsaw, and Alexandra.

Sales increased during the First World War. When the war ended, sales declined as the industry lost a major market in Russia (military conflicts), in the US it was the beginning of Prohibition, and in Egypt and the Middle East, it was the start of Arab nationalism. Once again, Israeli vineyards were uprooted and replanted with citrus trees.

The Second World War jump-started the wine industry and waves of immigrants changed their drinking habits. In 1957, Baron Edmond de Rothschild deeded two wineries to the Cooperative of Winegrowers, the Société Cooperative Vigneronne des Grandes Caves, better known under the trade name Carmel Mizrahi in Israel and Carmel worldwide. Sweet wines with a religious focus were a Carmel anchor product; however, with the emergence of the new world in winemaking, Israeli winemakers started to look for new varietals. By 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc were good enough to be presented in the US market.

Unfortunately, the 1980s saw another slump in the wine industry but the winemakers were able to recover by the middle of the decade as demand for quality wines developed and the improved winemaking techniques were incorporated by the winegrowers enabling the wines of Israel to be competitive on the world stage.

Carmel is owned by the Council of the Vine-growers Union (75 percent) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (25 percent). The parent company is Société Cooperative Vigneronne des Grandes Caves Richon Le Zion and Zikhron Ya’akov Ltd.

Carmel’s first location was Rishon LeZion Winery, built in 1890 by Baron de Rothschild, making it the oldest industrial building in Israel still in use. It is the first enterprise to install electricity and telephone and David Ben-Gurion (Israel’s first prime minister) was an employee.

In terms of production, it is the largest winery in Israel (produces wine, spirits, and grape juice) and the largest producer of kosher wine in the world. The enterprise has won more medals than any other Israeli wine producer.

Carmel Winery owns many vineyards throughout Israel and they include some of the finest individual vineyard sites in the country. An average Carmel harvest totals approximately 25,000 tons of grapes, just about 50 percent of Israel’s total harvest. The wine-growing areas are considered among the best because of their higher altitudes and cooler climates.

Carmel. Taste of Israel

Carmel. 2020 Appellation. Cabernet Sauvignon, Upper Galilee. Dry Red Wine. Kosher for Passover, Mevushal. Extended fermentation with skins; aged in French oak barrels for 12-months. The wine is not fined and coarsely filtered prior to bottling; natural sediment may appear during bottle maturation.

The term kosher means “pure.” The target markets include orthodox Jews who observe Jewish Dietary laws. Kosher wines can be world class, receive excellent scores and win international awards. The wines are produced using the same procedures as non-kosher wines. In terms of quality, the kosher designation is irrelevant.

The Galilee is an administrative and wine region in northern Israel. “Water into wine” is a theme of the region based on the historical reference of a wedding at Cana, where Jesus turns water into wine. The soil types include free-draining gravels, limestone based and mineral-rich volcanic basalt. The area is characterized by rocky elevations of over 450 meters (1500 feet). The cool elevations and relatively high rainfall in this area allows the grapes to retain their acidity and produce a wine that is fresh and vibrant.

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