Tzora Judean Hills Blanc (OK Kosher) 2017
The 2017 vintage of Shoresh Blanc is made from Sauvignon Blanc (75%) and Chardonnay (25%) grapes grown on old terraces in the Shoresh vineyard. The vineyard is characterized by shallow Terra-Rosa soil with subsoil of limestone. The wine went through cool fermentation and Sur-Lie aging for 7 months in French barriques. This wine’s structure and complexity reflect the character and quality of this unique vineyard site.
The wines of Tzora reflect the Judean Hills’ unique terroir. In order to achieve this goal, they make wine only from their estate’s fruit, grown in three vineyards, Giv’at Hachalukim, Shoresh and Neve Ilan, each with varying soils and meso-climates.
Winemaker Eran Pick studied at UC-Davis and is the first Israeli to complete the Master of Wine. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the winemaking at Tzora. Jean-Claude Berrouet of Chateau Petrus is a consultant with Tzora as well. Berrouet says, “My idea is that together with Tzora Vineyards we wish to develop a wine that tells a sincere, authentic story of the local soil and climate through people who share their passion, ability and experience.”
With a rich history of wine production dating back to biblical times, Israel is a part of the cradle of wine civilization. Here, wine was commonly used for religious ceremonies as well as for general consumption. During Roman times, it was a popular export, but during Islamic rule around 1300, production was virtually extinguished. The modern era of Israeli winemaking began in the late 19th century with help from Bordeaux’s Rothschild family. Accordingly, most grapes grown in Israel today are made from native French varieties. Indigenous varieties are all but extinct, though oenologists have made recent attempts to rediscover ancient varieties such as Marawi for commercial wine production.
In Israel’s Mediterranean climate, humidity and drought can be problematic, concentrating much of the country’s grape growing in the north near Galilee, Samaria near the coast and at higher elevations in the east. The most successful red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, while the best whites are made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Many, though by no means all, Israeli wines are certified Kosher.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.