Zafririm Winery

Lori and Shaike Lender are set to launch their 2015 reds this coming weekend as part of the Judean Hills Wine Festival.  Zafririm Winery is the smallest producer IWT works with.

Although a small producer at just about 8K bottles a year, the blends are very different from one another, going from a Mediterranean “Bordeaux” style wine to New World Lavnin which uses both Petite Sirah[Duriff]  Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc and ending with a more robust Patom series. We feel the wines coming out of Zafririm are getting better each year. Lori’s Rose sells out by August every year.

Agur Winery

Agur is the smallest producer to have ranked a wine over 90 points with Kim Marcus and Wine Spectator in late 2016 , Shuki Yashuv is producing just under 20k bottles these days . Newer wines for this winery include “Layam” which is “Cote De Rhone” style blend of Syrah and Mourvedre and an even later addition is Karka which is 100% Oseletta [Only producer in Israel with this variety] This is a fascinating wine , common in the area of Valpolicella near Verona, Italy. 2014 and 2015 vintages have sold out and Shuki will release 2016 soon. For the 2018 vintage, Agur is producing Blanca for the first time in years. Certainly something to look forward to!

Sphera Winery

Doron and Sima Rav Hon continue  to be one of the best White Wine producers in Israel. The signature touch of this winery is complex , minerally and interesting white wines. The winery uses both French Oak and Stainless Steel fermentations and variety wise they are using , Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon,  Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Riesling

Sphera has been growing steadily and for the 2017 vintage had released 25K bottles. 2018 harvest marks the beginning of a long term project of Sparkling wine for this winery . This is a passion of the Winemaker, one that he is revisiting this time at his own winery.  Sphera sells most of its wine to restaurants and has a strong following for the launch events.

It is no industry secret that most of our guests are North American Jews visiting Israel.  Last week, we were touring with a Brazilian Judge and her husband, a Public Prosecutor. When we started emailing, the lady mentioned she is a big fan of white wines and has spent time wine touring in several great regions in France.

We figured since the 15′ wines of Sphera have sold out a while ago and the launch event of the new vintage is scheduled for May at the winery, this would be a terrific opportunity to taste some of the wine ahead of the public.

Sphera’s core market is the Tel Aviv restaurants. In fact, 80% of their wine is sold there. The abundance of top level establishments in Tel Aviv which serve small plates, or dishes with an Asian flair that would benefit from a well-crafted, crisp and minerally Israeli white wine next to them, puts Sphera in the big leagues of Israeli boutique white wine.

Sphera Winery Novemver 16′

Markerting wise Sphera is also hitting it straight on the nail. Sima Rav Hon, Doron’s wife deserves a lot of credit here. The winery is now a part of the Judean Hills Quartet along with Tzora, Domain Du Castel and Flam. Smart decision for all sides involved. The winery itself is pristine white and has rotating art work presented along with recreating their image for a Sphere year after year. Their newest edition will be presented at the May launch event they are holding.

I will be the first to admit [even when the wine maker is listening] that I am not a big fan of Chardonnay.  The varietal 2016 Chardonnay that Doron Rav Hon created for the White Concept Series took me by surprise.  60% fermented in stainless steel and the wine was crisp, fruity and not oaky at all.  I liked the Riesling a lot as well and what stood out the most I think, was how different the First Page [blend] was from previous years.  Doron mentioned that he needed the Riesling for the Varietal batch and in the First Page that meant that the Semilon would have a bit more presence.  The result was a nice complexity and some anise flavors as well.  It is a fantastic winery and a must if one is a fan of white wines.

Tours and tastings at Sphera Winery can be offered as a part of our Judean Hills Wine Tour. Availabilty pending schedule approval of the winery.