Somek Winery - Israel

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Howard Cooper
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Somek Winery - Israel

#1 Post by Howard Cooper » November 19th, 2018, 4:15 am

We just returned from two weeks of largely eating and drinking in Israel. There are a number of new smaller Israeli wineries producing wines that are artisanal but in many cases not Kosher. Many of these wines are tasty, but they seem a bit too big for their britches. Too much size and alcohol, not enough elegance.

We visited Somek Winery and I would say that these were the most elegant wines we tasted on our visit. https://www.somek-winery.co.il/en/ Certainly, not great wines, but they were very good and decent values, at least at the winery. My two favorite wines that we had were a 2013 Carignan (very well balanced and restrained in alcohol - drinking very well now) and a 2012 Bik’at Hanadiv (which I believe was a blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carignan - probably ultimately the better wine, but in need of time).

Note that prices on the website are in shekels (about 3.7 shekels to the dollar right now) and that the wines are not Kosher - family run winery where husband and wife do the work, they would have to hire employees who are religious to make the wine kosher.
Howard

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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#2 Post by Elliot Steele » November 19th, 2018, 6:50 am

Thanks for the report, Howard. Do you see any progression in quality and/or stylistically overall since you've last been? I too have tried my fair share of kosher Israeli wines and have never been remotely satisfied. Hell I'd even go so far as to say kosher wines made anywhere in the world are a general disappointment. As a member of the tribe myself I find it embarrassing that we have a hard time making pleasurable wines considering the rich history and symbolism it has in our religion and culture.

Have you heard of any famous wine makers consulting for any of the wineries there? The Israeli wine industry is a relative new comer and have lots to learn regarding farming and cellar practices I'm sure.
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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#3 Post by Howard Cooper » November 19th, 2018, 10:22 am

I went to better Israeli restaurants than I have in the past. So, I got to taste more of the better smaller producers than I have in the past. Thus, I cannot really comment on progression.

A few things to say.

1. Nothing Mevushal will ever be more than adequate IMHO.
2. My sense is that most of the better wines being made in Israel are artisanal small production wines and are NOT KOSHER. These guys are mostly selling wines in Israel to a secular market and do not need to incur the huge additional expenses of making a wine kosher and are not doing so. Thus, I am not sure any improvements in quality in Israeli wine will show up in Kosher wines and, since the biggest market for Israeli wines in the US are for kosher wines, I doubt you will see that much improvement in Kosher wines.
3. Even what I tasted from better wineries tended toward hot wines. Not sure how much that reflects what is being made and how much it reflects the preferences of our tour guide who likes bigger, richer wines. The owner of the tour company has a good palate and is a former sommelier. The tour agenda picked the winery to go to. But, our tour guide picked the wines for us at dinner, as best as I could tell. I think some of what I saw was the reflection of differences in taste. Think what would happen if Jeremy Holmes picked the winery to visit and Jay Hack picked the wines for dinner every night. You would get entirely different types of wines.

4. Try Castel or its cheaper sibling Petite Castel.
Howard

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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#4 Post by Howard Cooper » November 19th, 2018, 10:24 am

I should note that our tour was a culinary tour of Israel based, at least in part, on this movie https://www.menemshafilms.com/israeli-cuisine which is on Netflix and which you should watch.
Howard

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R. Gleiberm@n
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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#5 Post by R. Gleiberm@n » November 27th, 2018, 3:36 pm

I visited Somek in June and had a wonderful visit and tasting. Good people. Good wines. Very nice area. We happened by chance to get a personal tasting earlier that morning at Margalit. Margalit is a top notch, non-Kosher, boutique winery. Dr. Margalit personally opened the facility to meet myself, my cousin and my two kids...including my 14 year old who refused to spit anything and was drunk by 11 am. Not sure they do any normal tours/tastings there. As we were leaving, we asked him for a suggestion for a 2nd stop and he suggested Somek. Most of the people visiting Somek were surprised that we had gotten into Margalit. Somek is certainly part of the Israel wine tour as many of the other guests there were on guided tours. We enjoyed it very much.
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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#6 Post by MitchTallan » November 27th, 2018, 6:00 pm

Great post. Thanks. I would choose an Israeli mezze as my death-row meal. I'm also a huge fan of Michael Solomonov and Zahav. I would guess that decent wineries (and breweries) would face a huge economic advantage in Ha Aretz since the cost of imported alcohol is so high.

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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#7 Post by Howard Cooper » December 19th, 2018, 5:21 am

MitchTallan wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 6:00 pm
Great post. Thanks. I would choose an Israeli mezze as my death-row meal. I'm also a huge fan of Michael Solomonov and Zahav. I would guess that decent wineries (and breweries) would face a huge economic advantage in Ha Aretz since the cost of imported alcohol is so high.
The few Israeli restaurants in the DC area have been mostly shawarma and falafel type places until recently when a new restaurant called Sababa opened up in Cleveland Park. This restaurant has much more of the types of foods I saw on my tour in Israel (including Konafi, although in a not as sweet version). I would love to get to Zahav (I have his cookbook) but am quite pleased with Sababa, which was very good.
Howard

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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#8 Post by Mike Grammer » December 19th, 2018, 12:20 pm

Howard Cooper wrote:
November 19th, 2018, 10:22 am

A few things to say.

1. Nothing Mevushal will ever be more than adequate IMHO.

I might have a countertheme for that. I met with Jamie at Jerusalem Hills and he served me a PV that was Mevushal that was actually quite good. He did mention Somek, though I didn't get the chance to get there...
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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#9 Post by Howard Cooper » December 20th, 2018, 4:11 am

Mike Grammer wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 12:20 pm
Howard Cooper wrote:
November 19th, 2018, 10:22 am

A few things to say.

1. Nothing Mevushal will ever be more than adequate IMHO.

I met with Jamie at Jerusalem Hills and he served me a PV that was Mevushal that was actually quite good.
A good Mevushal wine would be a shock.
Howard

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Re: Somek Winery - Israel

#10 Post by Mike Grammer » December 20th, 2018, 8:19 am

Trust me---I was shocked. He didn't tell me till I tasted it. Dad liked it too.

I did bring one bottle back...perhaps I'll save it for my next visit? :)
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