My Israel

Those who land at the airport in Tel Aviv are the first to hear the voices in endless languages. Whether in Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, Polish, Arabic, German, or English – in the long and brightly polished corridors one can be hear almost every language of the world. In long rows one stands then together before the passport control and looks impatiently to the right and left past his fellow travellers. If you already know the country, you can hardly wait to start travelling. When one enters the legendary nightlife of Tel Aviv, drive through the fascinating landscapes, leaving traces in the long sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, strolling through the narrow streets of Jerusalem to observe people who are caught up in the myth of so many holy places or be just one of them. One can visit many wineries here, where winemakers make their wines with great love for their place. Israel is for me one of the most fascinating countries in the world and also in the case of wine the small country has much to offer.

To put Israel's wines in just one drawer is impossible. In a country that is only half as large as Switzerland, you will find a variety of climatic conditions. If you want you can go skiing in the morning at Mount Hermon, pick a banana at the lake of Galilee at noon, drink a cappuccino in the Mediterranean in the afternoon and end the evening with a camel safari through the Negev desert. From the Golan heights to the desert, around 300 wineries from the boutique winery to the global player, take care about the vines. So, it’s not a surprise that one can find many different wines.

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild used to say: "Wine is really not a difficult business. Only the first 200 years are difficult. "These nails it down. The recent history of wine in the Holy Land is scarcely older than 150 years. Although the region once belonged to the so-called fertile crescent, the land where man began to settle about 10,000 years ago, began agriculture, and soon began to cultivate wine. Numerous quotes in the Bible in the New and Old Testament point out that there was a highly-developed wine sector here early. So, Noah's first work after his landing with the ark was to plant a vineyard, and on the first miracle of Jesus water was turned into wine.

Also, anyone who makes a round trip through the Holy Land can admire countless antique wine psses engraved in the rocks more than 5000 years ago. In spite of this long history, it is no longer known what kind of King David's favourite wine was. For the native grape varieties, such as in Italy or Greece, have been lost in the storm of the times, which blows always stronger the more "holiness" is in the game. Today one of the biggest challenges for winegrowers is to find out which of the international grape varieties are best suited to the natural conditions. Unfortunately, this can only be learned to a limited extent from wine universities or can be derived from climatic data and the analysis of soil profiles. Exciting wines are produced when vines grow in marginal positions. You can only find out by trial and error. A lengthy task and probably what Madame Rothschild has described with her quote.

In Israel one can mainly find Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, which are also known as international grape varieties because they are found in every wine country. These grape varieties came into the country in the 19th century as the philanthropist Edmond de Rotschild committed himself to the first agricultural attempts of the growing Jewish community and brought here simply vines of the parental Château Lafite Rothschild from Bordeaux. These Bordeaux grape varieties are still widely used and popular today. After all, these grape varieties are able to cope with the warm climate and produce reliably good wines with which many wine lovers are satisfied. But Cabernet Sauvignon unfortunately does not help to leave a fingerprint in the wine world. The experience shows that, in a small wooden barrel, Bordeaux blends from a warm climate are similar to other international wines. However, it is the desire of every winegrower to ppare a wine, which is unmistakable in fragrance and taste. This search for the unmistakable taste characterizes many winemakers here.

One of the surprises are the red wines from the grape variety Carignan, which is neither known nor successful in many other Mediterranean regions. In the South of France, Carignan lands in Rosé, which now accounts for 90% of Provencal wine production. But here in the eastern Mediterranean she seems to have found her true home. Carignan is a part of the legendary Château Musar from Lebanon and further south in Israel one ensures with outstanding wines, for the rehabilitation of the "work horse" stamped vine.

The secret of Carignan is the challenge of viticulture in a hot climate is to get ripe vines with sufficient acidity. Often a compromise is made which seldom provides great wines. The advantage of Carignan, on the other hand, is that it has a high acidity and allows winegrowers to wait until the grapes are ripe, so that they can still have enough freshness. In addition, there are many, very old bush-trained Carignan vineyards in Israel. Since Carignan was the most cultivated variety until the 1970s for the Kiddush wines. Those wines served for religious purposes only, but not to convince wine lovers. Today the winemakers reduce the yields and create Carignan wines with powerful elegance and complex as impetuous flavours of wild black fruits - a real discovery.

The wines from Cabernet Franc are just as unique. Otherwise, Cabernet Franc is mostly used as a Cuvée partner and only on the Loire or in Friuli it is bottled on her own. It often fails to tame the green flavours as well as tannins of the Cabernet Francs and it misses too often enough meat on the bones. In Israel Cabernet Franc succeeds particularly well. He reflects the sun of Israel, while keeping an eye on the admired French sophistication.

Another task for each young wine sector is to find the right way in wine making. Untrained palates tend to confuse quality with concentration. It is recommended to pss the brakes, especially in a warm climate, for example when it comes to use too many new barrel. But many Israeli winegrowers have also left these developments behind.

The wine scene in Israel is in constant motion. Wine is no longer just a religious drink, but should also convince spoiled palates. Still, 95% of the wines are kosher, so they are produced under the care of a rabbi. This is linked to the export opportunities offered by, for example, large Jewish communities in the United States. A wine is kosher, if under the supervision of a rabbi, the wine came into contact only with orthodox Jews. As the winemakers, themselves are often not strictly religious, they are not allowed to touch their wines if they are to remain kosher, but they can supervise and instruct the Orthodox colleagues. Viticulture and winemaking and therefore the qualities are the same as for non-kosher wines. Therefore, it does not matter for connoisseurs whether the wine is kosher or not.

What has a particularly positive effect on the wine sector is the lively and innovative restaurant scene in Israel. As in the hallways of the airport, cultures meet on the plates of the country. Combined with the Mediterranean way of life, where great value is placed on good food in a pleasant society, you can hardly decide which trendy restaurant you want to go today. Many of the cooks work with the winegrowers to discuss the different wine styles, to propose changes to search for the best wines for their refined dishes.

Those who have the opportunity to travel to Israel should not only visit the tourist sights but also visit a winery. On all the wineries, you will be welcomed very warmly, and the winemakers will tell you passionately about their land, which makes their wines special. And it is like everywhere in the world - with good food and wine, you are most likely to get to know the country and the people. In this sense: "L'Chaim! - "To life!"