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Israel should focus on Syrah

Despite domestic demand for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it is Syrah could be Israel’s star variety think some of its leading winemakers.

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The Hula Valley in Upper Galilee, photo: Dalton Winery

Speaking to the drinks business at the annual Kosher wine and spirits tasting hosted by Kedem Europe, Alex Haruni, owner of Dalton Winery said that Syrah/Shiraz “should have been planted first”.

“I think some of the Cabernets and Merlots can be pretty leafy,” he said, “the Shirazs are significantly better.

“We didn’t understand the potential at first, until we started planting it about 10 years ago.

“Shiraz should’ve been planted first. However, commercially it’s more difficult as people drink more Cabernet more than they do Shiraz, it’s not called ‘King Cab’ for nothing”.

“It’s a new variety in Israel,” agreed Gilad Flam of Flam Winery who had previously told db that the variety had “good potential” in Israel and that, “in the Upper Galilee we have nice, stony soils and can get good results.”. However, he added, “people want Cabernet and Merlot.”

“I think it enjoys the hot weather more,” Haruni continued, “And I believe it does well everywhere,” adding that his winery had recently planted a new plot further down towards the Judean Hills.

There are some exceptions, countered Yakov Berg, CEO of Psagot, notably in his region in the hills above Jerusalem, apparently the highest Israeli wine region at 900 metres above sea level.

“Our soils are more elegant and the altitude helps us with freshness in,” he explained when talking about his Cabernet.

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