Sukkot comes with the much-anticipated fun of meals together with family and friends in the sukkah, and what better time to enjoy a new Israeli wine than with family in the warmth and joy of the time of our rejoicing? FillerUp, which imports many Israeli wines through its import label Red Garden, recommended four wines, two whites and two reds, that my tasting group enjoyed and deemed great for Sukkot. We tasted the wines blind, scoring all based on appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish. While we learned later that several of the wines were more affordable and some more high-end, we did not score the wines based on price, simply on our impressions.
Adir Winery Kerem Ben Zimra Sauvignon Blanc 2016
A family business in the Upper Galilee, Adir Winery’s Kerem Ben Zimra series comprises grapes grown in the family vineyards “special plateau,” according to its website, and harvested during the early-morning hours. The wines are aged in French and American oak barrels for 12-14 months, followed by an additional five months after bottling. The wine has a shimmering pale light straw color and was delicious served cold. Its aroma contains hints of grapefruit and pineapple, with little to no lingering oak flavor. “I like this; it’s easy to drink,” said Ari. The group noted its absence of oak flavor but found it would go well with light foods and would be a delightful cold Kiddush wine if the weather is warm. Perfect with salads or dairy. This wine is mevushal and available at FillerUp for $21.99.
Ella Valley ‘Everwhite’ (Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc/Viognier) 2017
Ella Valley is one of Israel’s most headline-making Judean Hills wineries, and was even selected to be served at the events surrounding the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, with special keepsake bottles being presented to the U.S. president and various dignitaries. One of Ella Valley’s sauvignon blancs is also El Al’s house white. Ella Valley is located in Emek Ha’Ela, where the biblical battle between David and Goliath was forged, making it historic as well as well turned out. The Ella Valley Everwhite blend is part of the winery’s “entry level” label, and its crispness and pleasant acidity is both inviting and delicious. The wine is comprised of 54 percent chardonnay, 42 percent sauvignon blanc and 4 percent viognier, and the blend has notes of peach and apricot that is as balanced as it is fresh. “Really nice; it went down fast,” said Miriam. Enjoy this mevushal wine for $14.99 at FillerUp.
Tura Estate Winery Mountain Vista Pinot Noir 2016
This mevushal wine from the Judean Hills was one of the most fruit-forward wines of our tasting, and we have been told this wine is typical of Tura’s fruit-bursting wine selections, which are famed the world over. The boutique estate winery, established in 1997, is owned and operated by Vered and Erez Ben Sa’adon, who are also the winemakers. According to the winery’s website: “Every stone that he touches in the vineyard, he feels that he is realizing the vision of Jeremiah, ‘You shall still plant vineyards in the mountains of Samaria.’”
This wine has a beautiful ruby color and has a wonderful balance as a result of its 10 months of aging in French oak. I found the wine had a softness and lightness that would lend it to light yet flavorful proteins, like rosemary chicken or roast turkey. Try this wine at FillerUp for $31.99.
Bat Shlomo Regavim 2016
The Bat Shlomo Winery was established by Napa Valley winemaker Ari Erle with Elie Wurtman, a serial entrepreneur, venture investor and technology-company executive. Together they have rebuilt the historic Rothschild wine trail and are making award-winning wines. While the winery originally concentrated on bottling great white wines and rosés, Betty’s Cuvee has been a standout red blend. Now, their Regavim, a blend of 59 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent cabernet franc, 15 percent petit verdot and 11 percent syrah, has gained notice. This wine was the clear winner, by point values, of our tasting. We all found the wine very well-balanced and inviting. “Open it a couple of hours before drinking, and this wine would be good decanted,” suggested Yeruchum. “This wine has intensity, a concentrated flavor, my favorite of the tasting,” said Deena. This is a limited-production wine that was aged for 14 months in French oak. Try this truly lovely wine at a truly great price for $49.99 at FillerUp.
The prices listed for all four wines at FillerUp (274 W. Englewood Avenue, Teaneck; 201-862-1700) is the per-case volume discount price for the Yom Tov season and prices of individual bottles will be honored in any quantity for those who mention this article.
By Elizabeth Kratz