Left: food blogger and wine writer Ayelet Kravizki deep in thought Follow her @ Callmewine.blogspot.com
It’s hard to deny the social attention and material investment that Haifa’s downtown is receiving these days. While its nice to see the lower part of the city getting a much-needed facelift, on a Thursday evening, I find myself drawn to a slightly different scene. In the back of the Carmel Shopping Center is one of Haifa’s tucked away gems: The Special Reserve Wine Shop. Every Thursday at 8:30 PM, owner and oenologist, Andre Suidan, brings together a mixed group of guests for a tasting ritual that is sure to tantalize the pallets of those wise enough to attend. In the early evening this place of oenological wonder begins to show its subtle beauty. Reflecting the intimacy and friendly ambiance of their place of business, Andre and his colleague, Moshe, welcome guests and friends to taste, to chat, to pair food and wine, and to enjoy some of the simple, yet important pleasures of life.
Your author is the operator of MyIsraelWineTours. As a lover of both Israel and its wines, I might just have the best job out there. I get to accompany groups and guests to the hundreds of Israeli wineries and share with them the passion and joy that I feel when I taste the labor of love that these vintners put into every bottle. I’ve had the joy of attending numerous events at The Special Reserve and each time I am left nothing less than awestruck with my ability to taste a glass of wine in a whole new light.
This week Andre assembled no less two wine makers from Zichron Yaakov to pour and tell. For those who don’t know, Zichron is the historical heartland of the Israel wine industry and home to Carmel Winery, Israeli’s largest winery and the former employer of gentleman such as Ehud Olmert, Levi Eshkol and a funny haired kid from Poland named David Ben Gurion. We are introduced to the young Yoav Poizner, lawyer by day, winemaker by passion. Yoav is the fourth generation from the Poizner family that has been growing grapes since their arrival in Ottoman Palestine in 1882 with a dozen other Romanian families. While the life of a farmer with early mornings and grueling labor were not for him, in hindsight he admits, it’s probably a more honest vocation than practicing law. So on weekends he spends his time with his father in the Yekev, a small converted building that once housed his grandfather’s prized horses. Even today, the idea that the barn had been turned into a modern winery sends shudders down Yoav’s spin thinking of the slap he would get were his grandfather still with us. Yet, the quality of the wine might help convince saba of the worthiness of their endeavors. Yoav generously poured two different wines, the first being a Merlot that he categorized as more of a Cabernet style wine. Bold and spicy, I was pleasantly surprised by this wine and its ability to keep me guessing just as soon as I think I have begun to understand Israeli Merlot. The second wine was a Cabernet, though I’ll call it a Cab with a twist. Blended with 7% Malbec, it was gentle on the palate and smooth; a delightfully unexpected taste.
The second wine-maker featured was Shlomi Zimnavoda who is also a descendant of the first Aliyah, though he was quick to mention his Polish heritage and decry being lumped in with the others from Romanian. Zimnavoda means ‘winter water’ in Polish, a testament to the fact that ‘the old country’ lives on, both in wine and roots. Shalomi works the land as his family has done for over 100 years, growing grapes and selling them to the Carmel Winery. These days he keeps the best for himself, producing a delicious Carignan that put a smile on the face of all who tasted the low yield, highly rich fruits from these 40-year-old vines. We also tasted his blend, a non-traditional mix of Cabernet, Merlot, Carignan and Petit Verdot, the latter for which he has a special affinity. In the land of too much Cab and Syrah, it’s a wonderful surprise to taste something so ‘yotze dofen’ as this. Shlomi’s wine is very unique in that he ages in massive wood barrels so that the grapes can speak for themselves, rather than being overwhelmed by too much oak.
Both wineries are holding open houses in the coming weeks, Poizner on the 24th of August and Zimnavoda on the 30th. Look for either winery on Facebook or come into The Special Reserve to say hello and sample some of these delicious wines from our neighbors here in Carmel’s wine country. It’s the only shop in all of Israel where you’ll find these boutique wines, a gift to those of us who call Haifa home. Tastings are typically held in Hebrew, though Andre’s impeccable English will accommodate the international crowd as well.
RSVP are requested in advance by calling The Special Reserve at 04 836 1187.
Wine tours can be booked by contacting email@example.com
Look for more wine articles from MyIsraelWineTours in the near future.
Rus and Nadia love wine and this was their first wine tour ever! They wanted a nice day together from Tel Aviv so I took them to the Zichron Yaakov area. We starting the day at Amphorae Vineyards where we toured the beautiful facility and took in the majestic surroundings. After the tour, they enjoyed some cheese with the Chardonnay 2007, Syrah 2006, Rhyton 2007, Maharal 2007 and the Port-style wine, Favor. The next winery we visited was Tishbi Estate Winery where we ate yummy pizza and shakshuka with the Gewurztraminer 2011 and Cabernet Petit Syrah. After lunch we headed over to the Wine and Chocolate tasting room to enjoy the flight of Valrhona Chocolates with a pairing of the Tishbi Estate line wines. After a visit to Pavo Brewery where we tasted the flight of beers (IPA, Wheat, Reddish Lager, Stout and the PILS, we visited Somek Winery. At Somek Winery we sat with Barak, the owner and wine maker, and tasted the Chardonnay 2009, Adom 2008, Merlot 2006, Carignan 2006 and the Bikat HaNadiv. The Carignan 2006 was one of the favotires with its plummy and prune flavors. Our last stop was at Jacob's Dairy to taste some sheep, cow and goat cheeses. It was a very fun day touring Israeli wineries and Nadia and Rus learned a lot about how to taste wine, the history of Israeli wine and what is happening within the industry.
The Gordon family celebrated Hanukah together in Israel. They love visiting their daughter and seeing new places when they come to Israel. They knew that there were wineries in Israel but did not know how to find them so I took them on a wine and beer tour in the Carmel Region.The first winery we visited was Amphorae Winery where they toured the Tuscan style winery and enjoyed a cheese and wine tasting. They tasted the Chardonnay 2007, Syrah 2006, Rhyton 2006, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and the port-style wine. We then went to Tishbi Estate Winery where we enjoyed lunch with a tasting of some simple wines. After lunch we headed to the new Wine and Chocolate tasting room where everyone loved the yummy combination. They especially enjoyed the Organic Syrah from Sde Eliyahu vineyards. The third winery we visited was Somek Winery where we tasted Chardonnay 2009, Adom 2008, Carignon 2006 and Bikat HaNadiv 2005 (Bordeaux style blend). The Gordon family loved the intimate atmosphere and love that goes into Barak's wine wines. The fourth place we visited was Pavo Brewery. We sat overlooking the Carmel Mountains and Mediterranean Sea while enjoying a tasting of Wheat, IPA, :PILS, Stout, and Reddish Lager. The beer was enjoyed
On Saturday, December 17th a group of friends from Tel Aviv University enjoyed a day tour to the Carmel Region. This is the last week of their Study Abroad program and they wanted to learn about Israeli wine. We started the day at Amphorae Winery and Noga took us around the winery and explained the specific process of wine making that Amphorae uses to make the best possible wine they can from the quality vineyards all over Israel. We tasted the Chardonnay 2007, MedRed 2007, Rhyton 2006, Syrah 2006 and the Port style wine. After a lunch at Manuella we visited Somek Winery where Barak invited us into his backyard and showed us where he ferments and ages his wine. We tasted the Chardonnay 2009, Merlot 2006, Carignan 2006, and B'rkat HaNadiv 2006. Everyone learned how to taste wine and the history of Israeli wine. It was a really fun day and a lot of wine was tasted..and drunk!
Ellen was so excited to show her son the wonderful wine that Israel has to offer. We started the day at Amphorae Winery where we took a tour of their beautiful facility and got an explanation of the fine details that Amphorae conducts to make their quality wine. We tasted the Chardonnay 2007, Rhyton 2007, Syrah 2007, Maharal 2006, the Port-style and Medeira Wine. They loved all the wines but especially the Chardonnay and Medeira. They will enjoy these wines for months to come. The second winery that we visited was Tishbi Estate Winery. We enjoyed a lunch of pizza and salad along with a tasting of the young Tishbi wines. After lunch we ventured over to the Wine and Chocolate tasting room. They tasted the Pinot Noir 2007, Organic Syrah 2007, Merlot 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Single Vineyard, the Jonathan Tishbi Special Reserve 2007 from Sde Bokar, which Ryan will enjoy in a couple of years after properly storing it, and lastly the Barbara Zinfandel Port-style wine. Each wine was paired with a specific Valharona chocolate and was delicious! The third winery I took them to was Somek Winery, one of my favorite wineries in Israel. Barak showed us his little fermentation room where he ferments the wine in plastic barrels and a few times a day manually stirs the wine with the skins. We tasted the Chardonnay 2009, Adom 2008 and Carignan 2006, which is a new release.Ellen and Ryan loved their wine tour and now know a lot more about the developing Israeli wine industry.
After a week of meetings, dinner and lectures a few Weizmann Canadian and Mexican friends enjoyed a wine tour in the Carmel Region. It was a perfect rainy day to enjoy 3 wineries and a brewery. We started out at Amphorae Winery where we took a tour of their beautiful Italian style facility and enjoyed a tasting of the Chardonnay 2007, Syrah 2006, Rhyton 2006, Merlot-Barbara Maharal, and the Port-style wine call Favor. We enjoyed a lunch of delicious bread, cheese, salad, and spreads a
t Binyamina Winery with a tasting of their Reserve series. We tasted the Gewurztraminer 2010, oaked Chardonnay 2009, Shiraz 2007, Zinfandel 2008, Cabernet 2008, and finished with the late harvest Gewurztraminer dessert wine.
The third winery we visited wasTishbi Estate Winery, where we sat in the wine and chocolate tasting room and savored the pairing of Valharona chocolates with the Estate Tishbi series. The group loved the winejams and the atmosphere of the new tasting room. Tishbi was getting ready for their beaujolais nouveau 2011 festival that night and celebration was in the air! We ended the day at Pavo Brewery. We tasted their IPA, Stout, Red Lagger and Wheat Ale. We watched the pouring rain over the Carmel Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. It was a spectacular site and great end to a wonderful wine tour.
Israel21C created a short video about the wineries in the Carmel Region, specifically, Carmel Winery and Somek Winery, one of my favorite wineries in Israel.
Barry and Beverly enjoyed a day touring around 3 Carmel Region Wineries on Friday, October 28th. This was an anniversary present from their Brother and sister-in-law for their 30th wedding and aliyah anniversary. We did many Le'chaim's!
The first winery we visited was Amphorae Vineyards where they received a private tour and tasting. The guide at Amphorae explained the unique methods of their winery and the quality of their grapes which makes their delicious wines. They loved the Chardonnay 2007 and Port style wine.
The second winery visit was Tishbi Estate Winery where we ate a delicious lunch of pizza and salad along with a tasting of the French Reisling 2010, which is sold out, and the Shiraz 2007. After lunch we went to the Chocolate and Wine tasting room and enjoyed the dark chocolate with the port. Barry and Beverly enjoyed meeting Jonathan and Golan Tishbi! The last winery was Somek Winery in Zichon Yaakov. Barak Dahan, the owner and winemaker, toured Barry and Beverly around his boutqiue winery in his backyard. We drank the Chardonnay 2009, Admon 2008, Merlot 2005 and Bikat HaNadiv 2006. They loved Barak's wine and his passion for winemaking.
The day was a blast for Barry and Beverly and now when they go to a restaurant or a friend's house and wine is served, they know how to swirl, smell and taste!
Happy 30th Wedding and Aliyah Anniversary!
The Struhl family loves visiting Israel during Sukkot and this trip they wanted to experience a wine and beer tour. Our first stop was Alexander Brewery where Ori, the owner, explained the process of how beer is made by taking us around his very clean and top-of-the-line microbrewery. We tasted two of his beers, the Blond and the Ambre. The Black beer will be ready in the Winter. The Struhl family was very impressed with the quality of the beer and Ori's start-up initiative. After a stroll around Ramat HaNadiv, we enjoyed a tasty lunch of pasta, pizza and salads at Tishbi Estate Winery. During the meal, I served the family a tasting of the Tishbi wines (French Riesling 2010, Jonathan Tishbi Chardonnay 2008, Cabernet Petit Syrah 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007). We then went into the Chocolate and Wine Tasting room and they loved the Milk Chocolate!
We quickly visited Carmel Winery to see the old oak barrel room from 1893 built by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. The family had a wonderful day and learned a lot about the Israeli wine industry.
On October 10, 2011, Eric and Vanessa celebrated their one year anniversary with a wine tour in the Carmel Region. We started the day at Amphorae Winery, which was going through a very special process of sorting the grapes that day. They only do this process twice a year during the harvest and only for their premium wines. Eric and Vanessa enjoyed a private tour and tasting of 5 wines. They really loved the Chardonnay and Med Red. After a nice walk through the botanical gardens of Ramat HaNadiv, we went to Tishbi Estate Winery and enjoyed lunch with a wine tasting. After a delicious lunch we went into the Wine and Chocolate tasting room and tasting the delicious wine jams, chocolates and wine. To digest all the food we strolled along the walking promenade in Zichron Yaakov before visiting Barak Dahan at Somek Winery. I showed them the unique and individualized way that Barak makes his wine and then we tasted the Chardonnay, Adom, Carignan, and Birkat HaNadiv.
Thet day was very special for Eric and Vanessa, who could not imagine spending their one year wedding anniversary any other way!