There’s a gap between the impressive quality of many Israeli wines and the country’s absence on restaurant lists or in fine wine stores. Supply is not large; Israel’s total grapevine acreage is half of Napa Valley’s. But something has been happening under the radar, particularly with distinctive full-throttle red wines, that deserves wider recognition. In a region where water is scarce, Israel’s pioneering innovations in desalination and irrigation have enabled its tiny fine-wine industry to emerge and flourish. These three top-of-the-line bottles prove that there is a new and exciting flavor on the world wine scene.
Teperberg Legacy, Petite Sirah, Samson, 2014
There’s nothing petite about this stunner from one of Israel’s storied family wineries, a fifth-generation producer dating to 1830. Bold and smoky, it has a black fruit aroma, with undertones of wild game and clove. Though highly concentrated in flavor, it’s silky and juicy at the same time, with a lingering finish that would pair well with braised beef.
$65, Wine Gallery, Brookline
Black Tulip, Galilee, 2014
Located on a mountainside at Kfar Tikvah (“village of hope”), where all the residents are special-needs adults who staff the winery, Tulip makes this beautifully crafted Bordeaux blend, which is cabernet sauvignon dominant. Winemaker David Bar-Ilan ages it for two years in prime French oak barrels, resulting in a juicy and ripe bottle with grace notes of tobacco, cedar and vanilla. This is a cellar candidate, or decant it now an hour ahead of time and enjoy with a rack of lamb.
$79, Gordon’s Main St., Waltham
Psagot Edom M Series, Jerusalem, 2016
This is a supple, highly concentrated merlot-dominant Bordeaux blend produced on rocky limestone terraces at a nosebleed height of 3,000 feet. Plummy and scented with dried herbs, it has a firm mineral and acid structure with moderate tannin, plus a hint of dark chocolate in the finish—a nice complement to roasted chicken.
$40, The Butcherie, Brookline
Sandy Block is a master of wine and the vice president of beverage operations for Legal Sea Foods.