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CENTRAL MOUNTAINS WINERIES LIKE DECANTER

The Decanter World Wine Awards is these days the largest wine competition in the world. It also has great credibility as one of the best.
CENTRAL MOUNTAINS WINERIES LIKE DECANTER

And Decanter likes them too!

The Decanter World Wine Awards is these days the largest wine competition in the world. It also has great credibility as one of the best. It is certainly not like the European competition which kindly sent us a medal, when I worked for Carmel, even though we had not even submitted a wine! This year no less than five Israeli wines have been awarded Gold Medals at Decanter: 

Barkan Beta Argaman 2020

Carmel Signature Mediterranean 2020

Gvaot Gofna Reserve Cabernet Franc 2020

Shiloh Secret Reserve Petit Verdot 2020 

Tura Mountain Peak 2018 

 

It is a good haul, being the highest number of Gold Medals awarded to Israel in a single year.

Gvaot Masada

All of the winning wines scored 95 points. Three out of the five are interestingly from the Central Mountains Region. Furthermore, two of the wines awarded Silver Medals, just missing out on Golds, were the Gush Etzion Blessed Valley 2019 and Gvaot Masada 2020 both of which scored 94 points. This has continued an interesting pattern.

There seems to be a distinct preference of the Decanter WWA for wines from this region. Let’s look back. The greatest ever achievement by an Israeli wine at the Decanter Competition was the Carmel Kayoumi Vineyard Shiraz 2006 which won the International Trophy in 2010. This remains on a pedestal, as possibly the best ever award for an Israeli wine. It has not been bettered at Decanter anyway.

Only three Israeli wines have won Platinum Medals at Decanter. These are Yarden HeightsWine  2012, Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 and Nachmani Shira Reserve 2017. Comparing points in competitions is a dubious exercise, where they are given in groups, by groups. They certainly don’t have the same weight or gravitas as points given by a named individual. However, for what it’s worth, the highest score in the Decanter WWA for an Israeli wine is the 97 points awarded to Nachmani.

In the last seven years of the Decanter WWA, eighteen Gold Medals have been awarded to Israeli wines. Of these, no less than ten have come from the Central Mountains Region! That is over 55%!  Amongst the wineries that have won Golds from 2017 to 2023 in this most prestigious of competitions are:

Gvaot – 3 times awarded Gold Medals

Shiloh – 3

Barkan – 2

Carmel -2

Psagot – 2

Yarden – 2

Teperberg – 1

Tura – 1

Jerusalem VW – 1

Jezreel Valley – 1

Tura Winery

Gvaot, Shiloh, Psagot, Jerusalem VW and Tura all hail from the same region. Their combined performance in this particular competition over the last seven years is more impressive than the better known (amongst wine intelligentsia): Galilee, Golan and the Judean Hills in the Jerusalem corridor.

Shiloh

The Central Mountains is Israel’s youngest wine region in that it only came to light as a quality winegrowing area at the turn of the Millennium. The first wine to bring it to notice was I suppose the Carmel Har Bracha Vineyard Merlot 2002. The success and quality of this wine provided great encouragement to the local growers. Although Carmel at the time were nervous of using fruit from the area, and the wine was discontinued after one harvest. However, the cat was out of the bag. Wineries started springing up enjoying all sorts of benefits and budgets bestowed to developments in the region. This brought back to life a winegrowing region well known in Biblical times for its wines. No doubt it is a beautiful region very suitable for growing high quality wine grapes. It is high altitude, with poor, shallow soils on a bedrock of limestone. However, in terms of vineyards planted and numbers of wineries, it still remains a very small percentage of Israeli wine as a whole.

This is the disputed region also known as the West Bank, by left wingers, and Judea & Samaria, by the right. You can tell someone’s politics by which term they use. I prefer using the term Central Mountains which describes the topography and is apolitical. The use of names is complicated by the fact that the ‘Judea’ in Judea & Samaria, does not cover the same area as the recently registered wine region of Judea. Furthermore, the new IPEVO map, compiled by winemakers and viticulturists, differs again. Confused? Anyone would be, but it is complicated being in a country without final borders.

Anyway, one message is clear: The Central Mountains wineries like Decanter, and apparently Decanter likes them too!

Adam Montefiore is a winery insider turned wine writer, who has advanced Israeli wines for over 35 years. He is referred to as ‘The English voice of Israeli wines’ and is the Wine Writer for the Jerusalem Post. www.adammontefiore.com

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