When Carmel was founded in the 19th century, it will surprise many to know that the wineries of
Rishon Le Zion and Zichron Ya’acov were considered extremely advanced for their
time. Cuttings for the new vineyards were taken from Château Lafite, the first
winemaker was from Bordeaux and the viticulturists were from France. Even the
winemaking consultant was also from Lafite. Baron Edmond de Rothschild set the
bar high, but it took nearly 120 years before his dream and vision would really
In those days, needs were different and
the local market was only ready for inexpensive, simple wines. Carmel filled
the place that was then demanded by the consumer, who was only interested in
wine at a certain price and with the correct Kashrut certificate. Quality was
not an issue.
For over 100 years, Carmel simply was
Israel wine. Carmel not only kept the Israeli wine industry afloat, but took
upon itself the responsibility to supply wine to Israelis everywhere and Jewish
communities worldwide. This was before food became a branded item in Israel and
way before wine was seen as anything close to representing a quality lifestyle.
Carmel was at the dawn of the quality
revolution in Israel, reintroducing Cabernet Sauvignon, marketing the Israel’s
first varietal wines and launching the legendary Carmel Cabernet Sauvignon
Special Reserve 1976. However this revolution was later to gather pace and
leave Carmel behind and though still dominant in the mass market, the company
was to experience financial difficulties.
Roll on to the 2000’s and Carmel began
its own impressive quality driven revolution. New vineyards were planted, new
boutique wineries were built, and a new winemaking team was appointed. The
company returned to profitability and the new management team changed the whole
focus of the winery from mass to quality and from sacramental to single
vineyard wines. One by one, each label received attention in turn, in terms of
new packaging and improving the quality of the final product.
The results have been an unprecedented
turnaround in Carmel’s fortunes and a rejuvenation of the winery’s image. The
winery has also had its successes to show that the talk of new quality was not
just marketing hype. For instance, the premier wine of Yatir Winery, Carmel’s
wholly owned subsidiary, became the first Israeli wine to receive 93 points
from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Carmel’s flagship wine Limited Edition
received 91 points from The Wine Advocate. Carmel’s Single Vineyard Kayoumi Shiraz
won both The Regional Trophy and The International Trophy at the prestigious
Decanter World Wine Awards.
Once the names ‘Carmel’ and ‘Carmel
Mizrahi’ only symbolized inexpensive supermarket wines, kiddush wines and grape
juice. Today in a show of confidence and pride in the new Carmel, the winery
has decided to bring its ultra premium and prestige wines together under the
Carmel label. “Carmel Fine Wines’ will be used as the umbrella name for the
finest wines produced by the resurgent Carmel Winery.
Within this new series are Carmel’s
existing flagship wines, Carmel Limited Edition and Carmel Mediterranean, which
are both blends, and they will be joined by the newly labeled Carmel Single
Vineyard wines, which are varietals representing the terroir of individual
vineyards. The wines have simple, elegant labels. The hand-drawn drawings on
cream labels and long red capsules are almost Bordeaux in style as befitting
Carmel’s French origins. Whereas the Limited Edition and Mediterranean both
feature a drawing of a winery on the label, the single vineyard wines
appropriately feature a drawing of the relevant vineyard.
Carmel was the first of the larger
wineries in Israel to introduce a single vineyard series. The first wine was
the Ramat Arad Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 and the wines throughout the first
decade of the 21st century were named after the particular vineyard. Vineyards
used included Ben Zimra, Har Bracha, Ramat Arad, Tabor, and Zarit. Changes each
year were determined by quality and by the desire that only the best and finest
would merit being released as a single vineyard wine. The current wines holding
the single vineyard beacon are Kayoumi Cabernet Sauvignon, Kayoumi Shiraz, and
Sha’al Gewurztraminer. These wines will be now under the new Carmel Single Vineyard
The stable of Carmel Fine Wines
therefore now includes the following wines. The relevant scores awarded by
Daniel Rogov (DR), Israel’s most influential wine critic, are also shown below.
CARMEL FINE WINES
This is the flagship wine of Carmel Winery. It is a blend featuring the five
main Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec, and
Cabernet Franc. All come from Upper Galilee vineyards. Deep purple in color,
the wine has an aroma of black plum, violets and tobacco leaves. It is elegant,
old world in style, with a long balanced finish. The label features a drawing
of Rishon Le Zion Wine Cellars, Israel’s first commercial winery, built in
DR: 93 points
Carmel Mediterranean 2008
This is a wine inspired by Mediterranean blends, emphasizing the pioneering
lead Carmel is taking to advance Mediterranean varieties. It is a blend mainly
of old vine Carignan, Shiraz and Petite Sirah, but also contains Petit Verdot,
Malbec and Viognier. The grapes are cherry picked from Carmel’s vineyards
The wine is deep purple with aromas of black cherries, spices, leather and
truffles. The label features a drawing of Zichron Ya’acov Wine Cellars,
Israel’s largest winery.
Carmel Cabernet Sauvignon, Kayoumi Vineyard 2008
A single vineyard wine made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the
celebrated Kayoumi vineyard, which lies in between Safed, Mount Canaan and
Mount Meron. It has a rich purple color, with lively aromas of cassis,
blackcurrant and Mediterranean spices. The wine is full bodied with a long,
elegant finish. The label features a drawing of Kayoumi vineyard.
DR: 93 points
Carmel Shiraz, Kayoumi Vineyard 2008
A single vineyard wine made from 98% Shiraz from the Kayoumi vineyard, and 2%
Viognier. The wine is very deeply colored and the nose is rich and complex,
showing aromas of red berries, black pepper and roasted coffee beans. The label
features a different view of Kayoumi vineyard.
DR: 93 points
Carmel Merlot, Sha’al Vineyard 2009
This is a single vineyard Merlot from the Sha’al vineyard. It is a new addition
to the range from the 2009 vintage, which will be released in the near future.
A new single vineyard wine, made from 100% Riesling. The grapes are grown in
the unique and versatile Kayoumi vineyard, in the foothills of Mount Meron, at
an elevation of 780 meters above sea level. This wine is pale straw in color,
with green tints. It is off dry with a fragrant aroma of citrus blossom, green
apple and lime, and a clean refreshing acidity.
Carmel Gewurztraminer Late Harvest, Sha’al Vineyard 2009
A late harvest dessert wine made 100% from Gewurztraminer grapes grown in the
high altitude Sha’al vineyard. It is very sweet, but has excellent acidity
which prevents it from being cloying. The nose reveals apricot, cinnamon, rose
petal and honey suckle. It is an exquisite wine, with a refreshing, silky
finish. Sha’al vineyard is depicted on the label.
DR: 93 points
The renewal, rejuvenation and
turnaround of Israel’s most historic winery, has been nothing short of
remarkable. These wines only underline the revolution that has taken place.
Talk about Carmel Winery today and the conversation is not just about history,
the Rothschild connection, the underground cellars and the size of production,
but also about the quality of the wines. The awards received from international
competitions and reviews by critics imply that Carmel Winery is today producing
some of Israel’s finest wines.
The following article appeared on wines-israel.com.
The opinions expressed are those of the author
Carmel Winery has launched a single
vineyard Riesling. The wine comes from the celebrated Kayoumi vineyard in the
foothills of Mount Meron, in the Upper Galilee.
Carmel Riesling, Kayoumi Vineyard 2010
is 100% made from Johannisberg Riesling (aka White Riesling). The Riesling is
situated in the higher part of the sloping vineyard at an elevation of 780
meters above sea level.
The grapes were night harvested, and the must was fermented at cold
temperatures in stainless steel tanks to preserve the delicate fruit and
flavors. Then the wine was left to age in bottle for 6 to 7 months before
release, to allow the complexity of the wine to develop.
Carmel Riesling is off dry, but at 5 grams per liter residual sugar, it is
virtually dry, and on the border between dry & semi dry. The color of the
wine is pale straw with tints of green. The aroma is of citrus blossom, green
apple and lime. The wine is medium bodied with a prominent and refreshing
Carmel has become known for its
Appellation Johannisberg Riesling. Since first being launched in 2005, it has
been a regular gold medal winner in Israel’s premier competition Eshkol
Ha’Zahav, in the category of ‘Aromatic White Wines.’ Furthermore the 2005 is
still remarkably fresh, with the characteristic petrol nose associated with
aged Rieslings. So it is a wine that will age for a few years.
This wine is part of the newly launched
Carmel Single Vineyard series, which includes a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and
Late Harvest Gewurztraminer. A Merlot will soon follow. The labels, which have
drawings of the vineyards on them, are distinguished by their simplicity and
Riesling is a variety most associated
with cooler climates, particularly in Germany, Alsace and New Zealand. However,
there are also good Rieslings in hotter climates, for example in Australia,
where the variety is often known as Rhine Riesling. The Carmel Riesling, from
Kayoumi Vineyard, may be the best Riesling yet produced in Israel.
Carmel Winery’s quality reputation
continues. As it continues to get higher and higher rated wines, increasing in
quality, one of Israel’s largest wineries are also making branding changes.
Marketing and wine branding are close
to my heart, as my background is in international marketing and communications,
so I was thrilled to see that Carmel Winery has introduced new labels for its
Single Vineyard series of wines.
Petit Verdot and Yatir
The following is from Wines Israel
The Israel wine industry was
represented for the first time at The Israel Conference held at the Luxe hotel
in Los Angeles. Israel Ivzan, chairman of SCV des Grandes Caves and CEO of
Carmel Winery was invited to be on one of the panels.
The conference is an annual feature in
the calendar to expand opportunities between Israel and California. It includes
a full day of global leaders, company CEO’s, prominent investors meeting
together to discuss the vitality and growth of Israel-facing business. The
objective of the conference was to provide a full day of exciting discussion
with industry leaders on the business relationship with Israel and world
Israel Ivzan was on a panel discussion
on Creative Consumer Products along with the CEO of Segal Bikes and the CEO of
Ahava, North America. They discussed high end consumer products from Israel.
Ivzan charted the Israel wine revolution, the rejuvenation of Carmel Winery and
the development of Yatir Winery.
The many prestigious and high powered
guests were able to enjoy both Carmel and Yatir wines.
Carmel Winery is the historic winery of
Israel, founded in 1882 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. It remains Israel’s
largest winery. Yatir Winery, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carmel, is a small
boutique winery situated in the northeastern Negev.
A Carmel wine was recently awarded The
International Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London, an unique
award for Israel at the ‘wine Oscars.‘ Yatir Forest, the premier label of Yatir
Winery scored 93 points in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, also a first for
The following is from Wines Israel and
reprinted w/ permission
Two recent initiatives show promise for
the future of Israel’s wine regions.
Israel’s current registered wine
regions were decided in the 1970’s. This was before the quality wine revolution
began in Israel and also before all mass of today’s vineyards were planted it.
This means that many believe the regions are either out of date, and that they
do not do justice to the variety of Israel’s various terroirs and topography.
A proposal for new, updated regions was
made at a recent presentation by viticulturist Eran Harcavi at the Wine Seminar
recently held at Rosh Pina in the Upper Galilee. Instead of dividing up the
country’s regions horizontally as is the case now, he proposes following the
contours & topography of Israel which would entail splitting the wine
regions into vertical strips. Certainly food for thought. It is good the subject
is being discussed. For most people in the industry, this is long overdue.
During roughly the same time the Rosh
Pina Conference took place, Israel’s most progressive wine region decided on
other progressive step. A few years ago the Judean wineries gathered together
into a club or consortium, to market their own region and advance tourism.
Booklets and maps were printed, internet sites were set up & local wine
fairs were organized. This was very progressive for Israel, and a beacon for
other wine regions to follow. Then, last year they published a very advanced,
academic study of the terroir of the region. It was the most in depth,
professional study of any wine region in Israel to date. Now in their latest
pioneering proposal, they have discussed the idea of encouraging both the
planting of vineyards in their region, and encourage wineries mainly to use
vineyards from their region. This would then lead to marketing the wineries,
vineyards and resulting wines as being products of their region. As usual they are
ahead of the game.
The discussion of regionality at the
Rosh Pina Conference, Eran Harcavi’s presentation and the proposal by the
Judean wineries show that some people are thinking progressively and creatively
about Israel’s wine regions. This gives hope for the future.