The Decanter World Wine Awards is these days the largest wine competition in the world. It also has great credibility as one of the best. This year five Israeli wines have been awarded Gold Medals:
Barkan Beta Argaman 2020
Carmel Signature Mediterranean 2020
Gvaot Gofna Reserve Cabernet Franc 2020
Shiloh Secret Reserve Petit Verdot 2020
Tura Mountain Peak 2018
It is a good haul, being the highest number of Gold Medals awarded to Israel in a single year.
All of the winning wines scored 95 points. Three out of the five are interestingly from the Central Mountains Region. Furthermore, two of the wines awarded Silver Medals, just missing out on Golds, were the Gush Etzion Blessed Valley 2019 and Gvaot Masada 2020 both of which scored 94 points. This has continued an interesting pattern.
Looking back shows a distinct preference of the Decanter WWA for wines from this region. Let’s look back. The greatest ever achievement by an Israeli wine at the Decanter Competition was the Carmel Kayoumi Vineyard Shiraz 2006 which won the International Trophy in 2010. This remains on a pedestal, as possibly the best ever award for an Israeli wine. It has not been bettered at Decanter anyway.
Only three Israeli wines have won Platinum Medals at Decanter. These are Yarden HeightsWine 2012, Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 and Nachmani Shira Reserve 2017. Comparing points in competitions is a dubious exercise. In competitions they are given in groups. They certainly don’t have the same weight or gravitas as points given by a named individual. However, for what it’s worth, the highest score in the Decanter WWA for an Israeli wine is the 97 points awarded to Nachmani.
In the last seven years of the Decanter WWA, eighteen Gold Medals have been awarded to Israeli wines. Of these, no less than ten have come from the Central Mountains Region! That is over 55%! Amongst the wineries that have won Golds from 2017 to 2023 in this most prestigious of competitions are:
Gvaot – 3 times awarded Gold Medals
Shiloh – 3
Barkan – 2
Psagot – 2
Yarden – 2
Teperberg – 1
Tura – 1
Jerusalem VW – 1
Jezreel Valley – 1
Gvaot, Shiloh, Psagot, Jerusalem VW and Tura all hail from the same region.
The Central Mountains is Israel’s youngest wine region in that it only came to light as a quality winegrowing area after the turn of the Millennium. The first wine to bring it to notice was the Carmel Har Bracha Vineyard Merlot 2002. The success and quality of this wine provided great encouragement to the local growers. Then wineries started springing up enjoying all sorts of benefits and budgets bestowed to developments in the region. This brought back to life a region well known in Biblical times for wine production. No doubt it is a high quality growing region. It is high altitude, with poor, shallow soils on a bedrock of limestone. However in terms of vineyards planted and numbers of wineries, it remains a tiny percentage of Israeli wine as a whole.
This is the disputed region also known as the West Bank, by left wingers, and Judea & Samaria, by the right. You can tell someone’s politics by which term they use. Anyway, one message is clear: The Central Mountains wineries like Decanter, and apparently Decanter likes them too!