FAST FACTS/ ISRAELI WINE (2013)

22/06/2013
 
VINEYARDS
 
 Israel is usually regarded as being part of the Middle East. It may be more accurately considered as being situated in the Eastern Mediterranean, a region also referred to as the Near East or ‘The Levant.’
 
CLIMATE:      Mainly Mediterranean. Long, hot dry summers; short wet winters; snow on higher ground. Semi-arid & desert conditions, in the Negev.
 
SOILS:          Volcanic in north; sandy red soils on coast & chalk & limestone on the hills.
 
HECTARES:    5,500 hectares (13,585 acres; 55,000 dunams).
 
HARVEST (METRIC TONS):
2012:  52,873     2011:  46,079    2010:  46,258      2009:   44,001    2008:   43,987     
2007:  42,236     2006:  45,353    2005:  45,483       2004:  53,468    
2003:  45,242     2002:  43,077     2001:   44,653    (1995:  31,668).
 
VINTAGE:          August to end of October – (often begins late July & occasionally ends early November); Machine & hand harvested. 
 
BEST VINTAGES:
2012; 2011; 2008; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2000; 1997; 1995; 1993; 1990; 
1989; 1985; 1979; 1976
 
 
GRAPE VARIETIES
 
Israel’s traditional volume varieties, Carignan & Colombard, apart from some quality old vine Carignans, are usually only used in inexpensive blends. They are gradually being replaced by international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc. Shiraz is proving both popular & suitable for Israel’s climate. Bordeaux varieties have been most successful to date, yet Mediterranean varieties may be more suitable in the longer term.
 
MAIN VARIETIES: 
Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot; Shiraz / Syrah; Cabernet Franc; Carignan; Petite Sirah; Argaman;  Petit Verdot;  Malbec;  Pinot Noir;  Sangiovese;  Barbera;  Zinfandel.
Chardonnay; Sauvignon Blanc; Gewurztraminer; Viognier; White Riesling; Emerald Riesling; Chenin Blanc; Semillon; Muscat Canelli; Muscat of Alexandria.
 
VARIETIES – METRIC TONS %:
Cabernet Sauvignon 21%; Carignan 15%; Merlot 14%; Shiraz/ Syrah 8%; Colombard 5%; Muscat of Alexandria 4%; Argaman 4%; Chardonnay 3%; Petite Sirah 3%; Sauvignon Blanc  3%; Petit Verdot 3%; Emerald Riesling 3%; Cabernet Franc 2%; Malbec 1%; Viognier 1%
LESS THAN 1%: Pinotage; Muscat Canelli; White Riesling; Pinot Noir; Semillon: Sangiovese; Tempranillo; Gewurztraminer; Mourvedre; Barbera; Muscat Hamburg; Chenin Blanc; Zinfandel; Grenache; Nebbiolo.
 
OTHER VARIETIES:
Gamay Noir; Pinot Blanc; Roussanne; Ruby Cabernet; Tannat; Touriga Nacional; Tinto Cao.
 
 
WINERIES
 
The three largest wineries – Carmel, Barkan & Golan, (along with their respective subsidiaries: Yatir, Segal & Galil Mountain) account for 64% of the 2012 harvest.  The top 5 wineries total 76 % of the harvest and the top 13 account for 94%.
 
NO. COMMERCIAL WINERIES:                           40
 
NO. BOUTIQUE WINERIES:                                250 +
 
LARGE WINERIES (> 2,500 metric tons  /  2.1 million  bottles ):
1. Carmel  Winery – Zichron Ya’acov, Rishon Le Zion, Kayoumi, Yatir
2. Barkan – Segal – Hulda 
3. Golan Heights Winery – Katzrin 
4. Teperberg 1870 – Tzora 
5. Binyamina Winery – Binyamina
 
MEDIUM SIZED WINERIES  (> 1,000 metric  tons  / 840,000 bots ):
6. Tabor Winery – Tabor
7. Zion Winery – Mishor Adumim
8. Arza – Mishor Adumim
9. Jerusalem Winery – Jerusalem
10. Tishbi Winery – Binyamina
11. Galil Mountain – Yiron
12. Dalton Winery – Dalton
13. Recanati Winery – Emek Hefer
 
SMALL WINERIES  (100 – 800 metric tons / 90,000 – 450,000 bots):
 Hebron Heights; Latroun;  Hacormim; Ella Valley; Castel; Yatir; Mony; Tzora; Flam; Cremisan; Tulip; Odem Mountain; Or Haganuz; Psagot; Pelter
 
COMMERCIAL BOUTIQUE WINERIES (50 – 100 metric  tons / 45,000 – 90,000 bots):
Saslove; Bazelet Hagolan; Chateau Golan; Shilo; Tzuba;  Clos de Gat; Vitkin; Adir; Alexander; Amphorae; Kadesh Barnea; Gush Etzion
 
BOUTIQUE WINERIES – A SELECTION (15 – 50 metric tons /13,500 – 45,000 bots):
Agur; Assaf; Avidan; Ben Haim; Chillag; Gush Etzion; Hamasrek; Karmei Yosef; Margalit; Midbar; Montefiore; Netofa; Ramat Naftaly; Sea Horse; Tanya; Vitkin. Yaffo;
 
GARIGISTES –A SELECTION (< 15 metric  tons / 13,500 bots):
Alona; Amram; Ben Hanna; Bustan;  Gustavo & Jo; Gvaot; Hans Sternbach; Lewinsohn;  Meishar; Red Poetry; Ruth; Sde Boker; Smadar; Somek; Sorek; Shvo; Trio; Zauberman;
 
 
ISRAELI  MARKET
 
WINE MARKET IN ISRAEL:      US$ 315 million annually
 
IMPORTS:                                               20%, mainly from 1. Italy; 2. Chile; 
                                                                         3. Argentina; 4. France; 5. Spain
 
CONSUMPTION:                                  4 liters a head
 
MARKET SHARE:                              63% red; 16% white; 8% sparkling; 2% rose; 
                                                                       11% sweet (moscato style, dessert & sacramental)
 
 
EXPORT 
 
EXPORT OF ISRAELI WINES ($ m.):
2012:   $ 29,843m.   2011: $ 26.7m. 2010: $  24.4 m.  2009:     $ 19m.    2008:   $  26.7m.   2007:   $ 21.1m.   2006:   $ 14.8m.  2005:    $ 14.6m;  2004:   $ 13.7m.;  2003:  $ 11.3 m.;  (2001: $ 8.01 m.)
 
MAIN IMPORTERS OF ISRAELI WINES:
1. U.S.A; 2. France; 3. U.K;  4. Canada; 5. Poland,  6. Germany; 7. Holland
 
EXPORT SALES:
 55+% of exports to North America; 35+% to Western Europe; Remainder to more than 30 countries in 5 continents. 
 
MAIN EXPORTING WINERIES:
• Barkan, Carmel & Golan Heights each export over $ 2.5 m. dollars worth of wine and have the majority of Israel’s exports 
• 90% of Israel’s exports are from the following 12 wineries: Barkan; Binyamina; Carmel, Castel; Dalton; Ella Valley; Galil Mountain; Golan Heights, Recanati; Tabor; Teperberg; Tishbi.
 
 
ISRAELI  WINERY RANKINGS
 
HUGH JOHNSON’S POCKET WINE BOOK 2013:
 
FOUR STARS:
 Castel
 
THREE TO FOUR STARS:
Yatir  
 
THREE STARS:
Clos de Gat, Golan Heights, Margalit
 
TWO TO THREE STARS:
Carmel, Chateau Golan, Flam, Pelter, Recanati, Tzora 
 
TWO STARS:
Barkan-Segal, Chillag, Dalton, Lewinsohn, Galil Mountain, Saslove, Tulip, Vitkin
 
ONE TO TWO STARS:
 Agur: Avidan, Binyamina, Ella Valley, Galil Mountain, Sea Horse, Tabor, Tishbi, Teperberg
 
 
ROGOV’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ISRAELI WINES: 
 
1. Golan Heights
2. Margalit
3. Yatir
4. Castel
5. Clos de Gat
6. Flam
7. Chateau Golan
8. Pelter
 9. Carmel 
10. Sea Horse
11.  Recanati
12.  Tzora
13.  Vitkin
 
 
ISRAELI WINE SCORES
 
ROBERT PARKER’S WINE ADVOCATE – SCORES OF 91+:
 
NINETY THREE POINTS(93):
Clos du Gat Sycra Muscat 2007                                   
Castel Grand Vin 2008                                                     
Margalit Cabernet Sauvignon Sp. Res. 2007           
Yarden El Rom Cabernet Sauvignon 2003                
Yatir Forest 2003                                                                 
 
NINETY TWO POINTS (92)
Castel Grand Vin 2004                                                        
Castel Grand Vin 2009                                                        
Clos du Gat Sycra Syrah 2007                                          
Tzora Or 2006                                                                          
Yarden El Rom Cabernet Sauvignon 2008                   
Yatir Forest 2008                                                                   
 
NINETY ONE POINTS (91)
Carmel Limited Edition 2007                                          
Carmel Limited Edition 2008                                            
Castel Grand Vin 2007                                                          
‘C’ Blanc du Castel 2005                                                        
Clos de Gat Chardonnay 2011                                             
Flam Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay 2012                       
Margalit Kadita Cabernet Sauvignon 2007                     
Recanati Special Reserve 2009                                            
Tzora Or 2011                                                                              
Yarden HeightsWine 2005                                                     
Yarden Katzrin 2003                                                               
Yatir Forest 2004                                                                       
Yatir Forest 2006                                                                       
Yatir Forest 2007                                                                       
Yatir Forest 2009                                                                     
 
 
WINE REGIONS
 
HECTARES OF VINEYARDS BY REGION (%):
• GALILEE 41% – mainly Upper Galilee & Golan Heights
• SAMSON 27%  –  vineyards in central coastal plain, Judean Lowlands, Judean Foothills 
• SHOMRON 17% – southern Mt. Carmel – mainly in valleys around Zichron Ya’acov 
• JUDEAN HILLS 10% – Jerusalem mountains, Gush Etzion & Yatir Forest – southern Judean Hills
• NEGEV 5% – mainly Ramat Arad, Sde Boker & Mitzpe Ramon
 
 
OFFICIAL WINE REGIONS:
 
GALILEE
• Upper Galilee
• Lower Galilee
• Golan Heights
 
SHOMRON
• Mt. Carmel
• Sharon
• Shomron Hills
 
 SAMSON
• Central Coastal Plain
• Judean Lowlands
• Judean Foothills
 
 JUDEAN HILLS
• Jerusalem
• Gush Etzion
• Yatir Forest
 
 NEGEV
• NE Negev
• Central  Negev Highlands
 
 
 
WINE TOURISM
 
There is a great deal of domestic and international wine tourism. Larger wineries are more likely to have vistors’ centers. Smaller wineries are more likely to be open on Shabbat- Saturdays.
The main wine routes are the Upper Galilee & Golan, the Mount Carmel and Judean Hills & Foothills regions.
 
NORTH
Galilee (Tabor, Dalton, Adir, Ramat Naftaly, Galil Mountain)
Golan Heights (Chateau Golan, Golan Heights Winery, Bazelet Hagolan, Odem Mountain)
 
COAST
Mount Carmel (Binyamina, Margalit, Tishbi, Carmel–Zichron Ya’acov, Somek, Amphorae, Tulip)
 
CENTER
Judean Plain (Barkan-Segal, Latoun, Karmei Zion – Bravdo, Clos de Gat)
Judean Foothills  (Mony, Teperberg, Tzora, Flam, Ella Valley)
Judean Hills (Castel, Tzuba, Sea Horse, Gush Etzion)
 
CENTRAL MOUNTAINS
Shomron Hills (Psagot, Shilo, Gvaot, Tanya,Tura, Har Bracha)
 
SOUTH
Negev (Yatir, Midbar, Carmey Avdat, Kadesh Barnea)
 
 
 
THIRD PARTY RECOMMENDATION
 
“The corner has clearly been turned qualitatively. Israel has a real wine industry that deserves consumer attention. There are attractive wines with typicity and some distinction….Many are classic and charming and the best will impress anyone.”  
Mark Squires, Wine Advocate
 
“The…wines are getting better all the time and some of them are superb”
Robert Parker, Business Week
 
New vineyards with classic varieties and a focus on cool climate, high altitude regions has transformed Israeli wines, as has modern technology and internationally trained winemakers.”
 Hugh Johnson, Pocket Wine Book
 
“Improvements in quality and consistency since the mid 1990’s have been remarkable.” 
Jancis Robinson MW, World Atlas of Wine
 
“The country’s entire wine industry has gained global recognition.”
Tom Stevenson, Sotheby’s Wine Guide
 
"Israel is on track to make wines with a distinctive style and taste. Its an amazing turnaround for a nation that has been mostly overlooked in the world wine sweepstakes." 
 Kim Marcus, The Wine Spectator
 
“Israel’s best Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots are exceptional”  
Andrew Jefford, Wine Magazine
 
"Israel has developed a wine industry that will confound preconceptions.” 
 Mark Squires, Wine Advocate   
 
 “Israel is a rising star of the wine world”  
Oz Clarke, Wine
 
“Israel wine has been transformed in the last 20 years by producers who have imported wine expertise to go with their existing technological and agricultural prowess.”
Hugh Johnson, Pocket Wine Book 
 
  
 “In such a climate, tending vineyards and producing wine is an act of courage and of optimism. I have enormous admiration for the majority of Israel’s winemakers…. Surrounded by anger, dogma, devastation, deprivation, mutual suspicion and….politics, they offer the possibility of hope for a better future.”
Tim Atkin MW, The Observer/ Off Licence News
 
“Once, recommendation of Israel wines was mostly of a sentimental nature. That is no longer necessary.” 
Frank Prial, New York Times  
 
“No-one should avoid wines simply because they have kosher certification. It seems generally irrelevant.” 
Wine Advocate
 
 
SOURCES
 
www.wines-israel.com
www.wines-israel.co.il/len/
Israel Wine & Grapes Board (Ministry of Agriculture); 
Israel Wine Institute; Israel Export Institute (both Ministry of Trade & Industry);
 
The Wine Route of Israel, Eliezer Sacks, Adam Montefiore (Cordinata)
Rogov’s Ultimate Guide To Israeli Wines, Daniel Rogov (Toby Press)
Wines of Israel, Eliezer Sacks, Adam Montefiore (Cordinata)
Wines of Israel, Israel Export Institute
The Bible of Israeli Wines, Michael Ben-Joseph (Modan)
The Book of New Israeli Food, Janna Gur (Al Ha’Shulchan)
 
Divine Vintage, Randall Hesketh & Joel Butler MW (Palgrave Macmillan)
Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide No. 7, Robert Parker (Simon & Schuster)
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2013, Hugh Johnson (Mitchell Beazley)
The Oxford Companion To Wine, Jancis Robinson MW (Oxford)
 
The Vine & Wine in Archaeology of The Land of Israel, Prof. Amos Hadas (Kronenberg)
Drink & Be Merry, Michal Dayagi-Mendels (The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)
Rogov’s Ultimate Guide To Kosher Wines, Daniel Rogov (Toby Press)
The Kosher Grapevine, Irving Langer (Gefen)
 
 
FEATURES ON ISRAELI WINES In Wine Magazines/ Journals / Websites:
 
Wine Advocate written by Mark Squires
Wine Spectator by Kim Marcus
The Wine News by Howard Goldberg
Decanter by Stephen Brook
Wine Business International by Adam Montefiore
i-winereview.com by Mike Potashnik, Don Winkler
Wine & Spirit by Tim Atkin MW
Wine Magazine by Andrew Jefford
Harpers W & S by Adam Montefiore
Drinks International by Adam Montefiore
Sommelier Journal by Benjamin Weinberg
 

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