Vineyards With An Innovative Edge | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Vineyards With An Innovative Edge

Vineyards With  An Innovative Edge

This new bright, balanced hybrid offers citrus fruit and a fresh perspective. Courtesy of Grapelines

The book may be sealed, but the wine flows on.

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It’s that time of year again. This period is traditionally a time of reflection in which we are encouraged to contemplate our decisions and, more importantly, our mistakes—to learn from our actions and misdeeds, and the impact these have had on our lives and on the lives of those with whom we interact. Hopefully, a little self-knowledge and wisdom has come from these experiences. With additional effort and focus we can hopefully transform and improve ourselves as we recommit to doing it all, at least a little bit, better. We are, of course, talking about booze—choosing the most appropriate drink for the moment.

What? You were expecting something different? Sure, the Yamim Noraim (“Days of Awe”) or “High Holy Days” — as you prefer — augur changes of a more substantive, and sober, personal, reflective, introspective, even metaphysical, level. But our column is called “L’Chaim” not “Torah Thoughts,” got it? No disgruntled letters — please.
 
It seems appropriate to approach the new year ahead with a fresh, revitalized attitude towards our wine choices. There is a wide and wonderful world of wines being created by highly skilled, innovative and dedicated individuals, so we ought to explore it instead of always drinking the same old thing.

Winemaking is an expensive, time consuming and frequently frustrating enterprise. We feel that new high-risk ventures that are able to create enjoyable wines deserve our support. An example is Kerem Montefiore, a small boutique wine producer, established in 2010 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Mishkenot Sha’ananim by Sir Moses Montefiore, the Italian born Jewish-English philanthropist.

This was the first neighborhood built outside the Old City Walls of Jerusalem. It became the cornerstone of the modern city (the original land was later divided into two established neighborhoods in 2010, Mishkenot Sha’ananim and Yemin Moshe). This new venture, Kerem Montefiore (“Montefiore’s Vineyard”), was founded by Arnon Geva and two of Montefiore’s descendants, sister and brother, Rachel and David Montefiore.

Rachel and David are two of the three children of our friend Adam Montefiore, one of the great representatives of the Israeli wine industry, and a true mentsch. After making aliyah from England in 1989 with his wife and three children, Adam transitioned from the UK wine industry to Israel with a gig at Carmel, Israel’s largest wine company. From there Adam transitioned to the Golan Heights Winery, eventually becoming the export and marketing manager.
 
In 2002 he returned to Carmel, where he now serves as Director of Wine Development. Adam has substantially helped spearhead the advance of Israeli wines worldwide.
A charming raconteur, Adam is also a prolific writer with a weekly wine column in the Jerusalem Post, in which he writes beautifully and passionately about all Israeli wines—not just Carmel. Not for nothing did the late Israeli wine critic, Daniel Rogov, refer to Montefiore as “the nicest person in the Israeli wine trade.”
 
Co-founder and CEO, Arnon Geva, the initiator and driving force of this new wine venture, brings extensive experience to Kerem Montefiore as one of the founders of Domaine du Castel and as International Business Director for Carmel and Yatir, (Carmel’s “boutique” operation).

Co-founder Rachel Montefiore is head of sales and marketing for the fledging wine venture.  She transitioned from being an athlete (a top Israeli squash player, winning a gold medal at the 2005 Maccabiah Games), to a wine-related career, mostly on the retail side.

Her brother and winery co-founder, David Montefiore, is less engaged in the day-to-day of the winery, but is no slacker either—he was one of Israel’s top bartenders, gained overseas winery experience in Australia and Spain, studied wine at London’s prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and is the director of Wine Culture for Israel’s Tabor Winery.  Their winemaker, Sam Soroka, is responsible for the recent remarkable improvement in quality at the Mony Winery.

The grapes are sourced from the Judean Hills and the wines are being made under Sam’s supervision at Mony, until a separate winery is funded and built for Montefiore. Currently the founders are appropriately focusing on crafting distinctive wines.

They released their first wines last year, including the Montefiore White 2012 ($20), an un-oaked blend of 70 percent Colombard and 30 percent Chardonnay that is well suited for the warm early fall weather. Sam Soroka has been a strong advocate for Colombard, a varietal that is commonly relegated to a supporting role. The Colombard’s bright citrus acidity offers orange, lemon and pineapple notes within a medium frame contributed by the Chardonnay. Accented with minerals, both balanced and fruity, this first effort from Montefiore is delightful and speaks well for the future.

L’chaim!

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