Judging from the emails that I have been receiving over the past two weeks, New Year’s Eve 2012 is no different then previous years, with sparkling wines of all styles and origins being the beverage of choice. It doesn’t matter if it is a simple bottle of Cava selling 3 for NIS 100 at local convenience store, a bottle of Israeli bubbly or a bottle of Champagne from a popular maison or from a growers estate, it seems to me that come New Year’s Eve most people just have to have a bottle of bubbly. The world over, sparkling vinos are seen as celebration wines and, as such, are usually uncorked on special and celebratory occasions – birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, Bar Mitzvah’s and of course the celebration of a new year to come.
If you are looking to surprise your guests or try a bottle of an “off the beaten track” Champagne, try one of Eldad Levi’s imported “Grower Champagnes” (www.fat-guy.net). Grower Champagnes are produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards from which the grapes come from. While large Champagne maisons often use grapes sourced from many different vineyards, Grower Champagnes tend to be more terroir focused, being sourced from single or closely located vineyards around a village. Often offering a better quality for money ratio compared to the large producers, even though there are many alternatives, in my opinion, there is nothing like the real thing – French Champagne.
Another “off the beaten track” bubbly is the German Zekt, a sparkling wine, produced solely from Riesling grapes. Zohar Goldberg at Kippis has a couple of brands on offer and if you haven’t tried a good Zekt yet, you are in for a pleasant surprise.
Over the years Israeli wineries have also began producing sparkling wines of their own, using both traditional and modern production methods. Today, alongside celebrated French Champagne brands including Moet & Chandon, Lanson, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Billecart Salmon (imported by Jasmine Spirits, if you have the opportunity try the Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Elizabeth - Rose) and a wide variety of Cava and Proseco, the Israeli wine consumer can find a growing number of blue & white bubblies.
Some Israeli Champagne style wines available on the market:
Golan Heights Winery has several bublies in their portfolio - Yarden, Blanc de Blancs, 2005 – Blanc de Blancs, or white of whites, means that the particular sparkling wine is made exclusively from white grapes, in this case 100% Chardonnay. Considered by many to be Israel’s top champagne-style wine, the Blanc de Blancs 05 is the first of this label released by the Golan Heights Winery since the previous 2001 version. Another bubbly from the Golan Heights winery, is the Gamla Brut NV produced from 50 % Pinot Noir and 50 % Chardonnay grapes. Victor Schonfeld and his team are also working on a Rose sparkling wine that might be ready for New Year’s Eve 2013.
Tabor Winery- Tabor offers two semi-sparkling wines labeled Pninim (pearls in Hebrew) that are more on the sweet side and two sparkling wines named 562 after the altitude of the Tabor Mountain situated at 562 meters above sea level. The 562 is produced in the Charmat method (AKA Metodo Italiano). In this method, the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in large stainless steel vats and is then bottled under pressure.
Tishbi, Brut – Tishbi's bubbly is produced using 100% French Colombard grapes grown in vineyards surrounding Zichron Ya’acov. Light straw with in color, it has mild aromas of lemon zest and green apples.
Carmel Winery - Private Collection, Brut, NV – A blend of French Colombard, Chardonnay, the Private Collection NV suggests pleasant aromas of green apples lemon zest and just a touch of yeast leading to a clean and refreshing finish.
Pelter Winery - the Pelter Winery from Kibbutz Ein Zivan also has a very limited production of sparkling wines, offering a Non Vintage bubbly based on Chardonnay grapes.
Several restaurants will be offering special menus and New Year Eve offerings.
• Mul Yam’s chef Yoram Nitzan will be offering an AMAZING decadent menu for NIS 1000 per person.
• Adom in Jerusalem will also be offering various specials on this evening that are worth checking out.
• HaTraklin in Tel Aviv will be taking the bubbly concept to the next level, redesigning the space and pairing sparkling wines with special dishes.
• PorterHouse in Tel Mond will also be offering a special menu also serving unlimited Gamla Brut throughout the meal.
• Other restaurants offering New Year specials are: Catit, Yoezer Bar Yain, Messa, Hotel Montifiore, Indira, NG, Frida Kalo and more.