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Winner Details

 ISRAEL

2019 GOLD: 4      SILVER: 6      BRONZE: 7      COMMENDED: 13
2018 GOLD: 0      SILVER: 0      BRONZE: 0      COMMENDED: 0

This category came out of nowhere. We’ve had very few, if any, Israeli wines in the Sommelier Wine Awards down the years, so to get a good chunk of them all at once was a real surprise.

A nice one, too. If the whites were seen as being a bit on the ‘generic’ side – pleasant enough rather than exciting – there was real enthusiasm for the reds. Yes, they were mostly going for that ‘expensive Bordeaux style’ with plenty of plush Cabernet fruit and firm tannins, but they pulled it off pretty well for the most part, with the best wines having a bit of lift to go with the fruit ripeness.

Special congratulations are due to Barkan Wine Cellars, who, in a wide-ranging entry, accounted for three of the four Gold-Listed wines, two of them under £8.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘We found everything from light, floral and aromatic wines, to one that was aged in oak, like Burgundy. What people need to get used to is pricing – sometimes people expect a new region to almost be free.’ Marco Marcuzzo, Aster Restaurant

‘A whole new experience for me, and really interesting. I’d definitely consider some of the reds, maybe to sell by the glass. It’s nice to have something interesting to talk about.’ Sue Jones, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

‘I was a bit disappointed with [the white] flight. They felt overly influenced by commercial yeast, with not a lot of personality in the wines.’ Joshua Castle, Noble Rot

‘There was lots of oak, lots of extraction and good, ripe tannins. They’re massive wines, with lots of barrel. The ones that had freshness and balance shone through, and those were mostly in the middle price points.’ Jade Koch, team leader

‘They could be expensive, but it’s nice to have some new wine regions on a wine list, and many of my customers buy wine that’s made where they’re from.’ Chiara Sieni, Bottles Group

‘At the top end, straight away you’re thinking about food matches, like game, while you could go with lamb in the mid-range, and a few would work very well with a barbecue, too.’ Michael Moore, The London Cookhouse

Award winners

Found 30 wines

Israel

Barkan, Altitude 624 2014, Upper Galilee, Israel

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

‘Initially showing some balsamic development on the nose, this has great complexity and balance on the palate,’ began Street XO’s Raphael Thierry on encountering this clear Gold winner, before describing ‘red and dark fruit, some chocolate, and dark spice from the oak, along with good tannic structure and a long finish’. For team leader Andres Ituarte there were also some ‘oregano, pepper and vanilla notes, and big, balanced tannins’.

£22.67 Kedem Europe

Segal, Whole Cluster, Syrah 2017, Judean Hills, Israel

Gold medal winner

This undisputed Gold medallist had ‘blueberries on the nose, joined by red cherries and strawberries, and all leading to a beautiful, silky texture on the palate, that’s well balanced between acidity, length and complexity,’ began Roberto Sanchez of Sexy Fish. Team leader Andres Ituarte, meanwhile, found it to have ‘a fresh style, with lots of pepper and violets, and a long finish of red fruit’ and added that ‘it will age, but needs big meat dishes now’.

£33.00 Kedem Europe

Barkan, Classic, Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Judean Foothills, Israel

Gold medal winner

For team leader Tom Forrest this approachable Gold Lister had ‘light bubblegum and cherry on the nose, as well as some spice aromas, followed by more soft cherry fruits on the spicy palate, as well as some vanilla’. Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants added praise for its ‘vibrant nose, with fresh fruits and some nice spice’, going on to describe ‘blackcurrant and anise on the palate, with smooth tannins’.

£7.00 Kedem Europe

Barkan, Classic, Chardonnay 2018, Judean Foothills, Israel

Gold medal winner Pub & Bar

Tasters were intrigued by this Gold Lister’s exotic, tropical notes, with team leader Lionel Periner finding ‘banana and candied lemon, leading to some apple on the dry palate, and a light, elegant finish’, while Jordan Moore of Trullo enjoyed notes of ‘elderflower, acacia and lychee’. ‘Fine, elegant and refreshing,’ praised Le Gavroche’s Rémi Cousin, who found ‘lovely fruit and crisp acidity’, not to mention some great value for money.

£7.00 Kedem Europe

Barkan, The Beta Series, Single Vineyard, Marawi 2017, Judean Hills, Israel

Silver medal winner

This was a hit with Chiara Sieni of Bottles Group, who described it as ‘smoky, with vanilla and ripe fruit on the nose’. She found the palate ‘rich with a refreshing finish’, which she attributed to ‘the presence of the oak’.

£25.00 Kedem Europe

Barkan, Free Run, Merlot 2017, Judean Hills/Upper Galilee, Israel

Silver medal winner

‘A lovely nose of cherries and sugar plums, as well as some cinnamon spice, leading to a complex palate with acidity and structure well balanced, and all overlaid with delicious fruit – a great wine,’ said team leader Angela Reddin.

£22.00 Kedem Europe

Binyamina, Chosen Diamond 2014, Galilee, Israel

Silver medal winner

Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn admired this wine’s ‘great integration, balance of fruit, elegance and weight, with notes of plum, damson and loganberry’. Additional notes, according to team leader Tom Forrest, included ‘ripe red and black aromas, as well as some liquorice spice and vanilla, leading to cherries and berries on the palate, with some currants, too’.

£38.00 Kedem Europe

Covenant Israel, Blue C, Adom 2016, Golan Heights, Israel

Silver medal winner

‘This is fresh, lively and balanced, with ripe tannins and integrated oak, leading to a lingering finish,’ said Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants, describing ‘floral aromas, as well as cedar and spice’. Gymkhana Restaurant’s Savvas Symeonidis further described ‘violets and roses on a perfumed nose, with black fruit, sweet spices, leather and forest floor on the palate’.

£26.66 Kedem Europe

Tabor, Adama, Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Galilee, Israel

Silver medal winner

Chiara Sieni of Bottles Group described this Silver medal-winning wine as ‘crisp and lemony, with essences of melon and ripe fruit. Herbs and grassiness dominate the length, partnered by lively acidity’.

£11.58 Kedem Europe

1848, 5th Generation, Cabernet Franc 2014, Galilee, Israel

Silver medal winner

‘There’s overall harmony here,’ began Savvas Symeonidis of Gymkhana Restaurant, who described ‘some interesting spices, as well as some bruised black fruit notes’. The Harrow at Little Bedwyn’s Sue Jones thought this showed ‘good winemaking, with good balance of fresh berry fruit, some spiciness and length, and a menthol finish’.

£16.66 Kedem Europe

Barkan, Altitude 720 2014, Upper Galilee, Israel

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Jade Koch found ‘an intense nose, with liquorice and blackcurrant’. ‘A fruity and peppery nose, with some spices too, and a hint of clove,’ added The Cross Kenilworth, Simpsons & Edgbaston’s Giuseppe Longobardi, going on to describe ‘a mature yet jammy palate, with good tannins’.

£22.67 Kedem Europe

Carmel Winery, Carmel Limited Edition 2011, Galilee, Israel

Bronze medal winner

‘Aromas of violets, roses, liquorice and kirsch lead to some great structure on the palate – a great wine by any standard,’ thought team leader Angela Reddin.

£37.33 Kedem Europe

Covenant Israel, Syrah 2016, Golan Heights, Israel

Bronze medal winner

‘This has good depth, with cooked black-fruit coulis and both dried and fresh berry fruit,’ said team leader Angela Reddin, who further thought that it was ‘long and succulent, and will age’.

£40.00 Kedem Europe

Barkan, Superieur, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Upper Galilee, Israel

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Jade Koch found this to be ‘bright and energetic, with a hint of strawberry, ripe acidity and some fine, dusty tannins’. Texture’s Alan Bednarski, meanwhile, noted its ‘good tannic structure, with complexity, and not over-extracted, with the alcohol well integrated’.

£30.83 Kedem Europe

Barkan, Classic, Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Judean Foothills, Israel

Bronze medal winner

‘Lovely aromas of fresh fruit, with floral notes such as jasmine, lilies and a little acacia,’ said Rémi Cousin of Le Gavroche.

£7.00 Kedem Europe

Tabor, Malkiya, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Galilee, Israel

Bronze medal winner

‘Sour cherries and blackcurrant on the nose, with a hint of violets,’ began Suave Wine’s Joseph Lunn, going on to describe ‘a palate that shows a lot of attention to hedgerow fruits, with oak used to add a lovely bit of spice’. Chiara Sieni of Bottles Group identified ‘cedar, cocoa and a lovely bouquet of wild berries, leading to velvety tannins’ and described it as ‘a well-structured wine’.

£30.00 Kedem Europe

Tabor, Limited Edition, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Galilee, Israel

Bronze medal winner

‘Savoury notes of herbs and blueberries on the nose, leading to good tannins on the palate, with some cherry and wild berry notes, too,’ said Chiara Sieni of Bottles Group, while Alan Bednarski of Texture remarked on its ‘elegance and good acidity, with crème de cassis notes too’.

£26.66 Kedem Europe

Adir Winery, Kerem Ben Zimra, Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£16.65 Kedem Europe

Adir Winery, Kerem Ben Zimra, Shiraz 2016, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£18.67 Kedem Europe

Segal, Petit UF, Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Upper Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£35.00 Kedem Europe

Segal, Levant, Argaman 2017, Judean Hills, Israel

Commended medal winner

£9.32 Liberty Wines

Binyamina, Reserve, Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£13.33 Kedem Europe

Dalton Winery, Alma Scarlet 2014, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£13.60 Kedem Europe

Jezreel Valley Winery, Jezreel, Single Vineyard, Agrarian 2016, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£26.66 Kedem Europe

Jezreel Valley Winery, Jezreel, Carignan 2016, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£20.00 Kedem Europe

Pelter Winery, Matar by Pelter, Cumulus 2016, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£22.00 Kedem Europe

Pelter Winery, Matar by Pelter Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2017, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£19.16 Kedem Europe

Or Haganuz, Namura, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Galilee, Israel

Commended medal winner

£30.66 Kedem Europe

Tabor, Single Vineyard, Tannat 2014, Golan Heights, Israel

Commended medal winner

£23.33 Kedem Europe

Yatir Winery, Yatir Forest 2014, Judean Hills, Israel

Commended medal winner

£37.33 Kedem Europe

 

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