Israeli wine flows onto international shelves

Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:13pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Elana Ringler

JERUSALEM (Reuters Life!) - Israeli wine has long stirred up associations with the syrupy libations of religious rituals, but modern techniques imported from top winemaking nations are now helping it find space on shelves from Paris to New York.

"Today, you'll find that people are looking for Israeli wines that meet international standards and the good thing is we are actually producing wines like that," Israeli wine critic Daniel Rogov says in an interview at a busy Tel Aviv wine shop.

"There is no contradiction between wines that are kosher and wines that are excellent."

Israeli wineries, both industrial-scale and boutique, make over 33 million bottles a year, according to the Israeli Wine Council, but the vast majority of Israeli wine is kosher or made in accordance with Jewish dietary laws.

Whilst the rabbinical seal has long been associated with wines made to appeal to observant Jews rather than connoisseurs, the quality of Israeli wines is improving, helped by government incentives for smaller producers, and some vintages are now garnering international plaudits.

Robert Parker, among the world's most influential wine critics, has heaped praise and points on some 40 Israeli wines. Fourteen of them won more than 90 out of a maximum 100 points in Parker's rating system.

Wines from neighboring Lebanon, which traces its winemaking industry back over 4,000 years, have been winning international awards for decades. Israel enjoys the same Mediterranean climate.

Weighing in with 93 points was the red 2003 Yatir Forest label from a subsidiary of Carmel Winery.   Continued...

<p>A woman drinks Binyamina wine during the annual Israeli Wine-tasting Festival at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem August 5, 2009. REUTERS/Baz Ratner</p>