Bat Shlomo Winery one-of-a-kind – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on June 4, 2022

BAT SHLOMO, Israel Shavuot is one of the three major Jewish festivals. On Shavuot, we celebrate receiving the Torah in a number of ways. People study all night and go to synagogue to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments. We read the Book of Ruth. It is also customary to gorge oneself on dairy foods like cheese and cheesecake. Many of us add wine to this list.

Perhaps you have read this column previously and noticed that I have mentioned a Sauvignon Blanc from the Bat Shlomo Winery, from of all places, Bat Shlomo, in the north of Israel. In preparation for Shavuot, I decided to visit Bat Shlomo and this small winery to taste its wines, with cheese, and report back. What follows is my report.

Bat Shlomo is a small village near Zichron Yaacov, whose founding fathers established it for their children in 1889. Bat Shlomo, however, did not prosper. It is small and quaint. It has seen a bit of a resurgence, and in fact, has become desirable because of its proximity to the up-and-coming communities surrounding it. What is left are the remnants of small farms, crumbling buildings and some shops. A small community, many who have lived there and grown up there, still enjoy the peace and quiet. And there are two synagogues one Ashkenazi and one Sephardi. Neither one can make a minyan, a prayer quorum, without the other. This is not a joke. This is Bat Shlomo.

The winery is beautiful, with two rental villas that are stunning. They share a magnificent infinity pool and a kitchen, where a private chef is available to prepare custom meals. The setting for our tasting was outside the winerys guest house, under an umbrella, on a charming gravel driveway. The scene might have looked the same 100-plus years ago, except for the chic BMW electric vehicle parked not too far away. And there, we were served exquisite cheese, and, of course, exceptional wine all kosher.

I have visited many wineries all over the world, including Israel, the United States, Canada, South Africa and at least six European countries. I have enjoyed the guest houses and the hospitality they offer. Bat Shlomo offers something different. It is one-of-a-kind.

This wine, unlike so many Israeli and international-style Chardonnays, especially kosher ones, does not hit you over the head with a plank of oak. The juice was fermented in oak barrels for nine months, the barrels are not new, and instead of mouthfuls of bulky and clumsy, overly-sweet caramel, vanilla and palate numbing apple-cobbler on steroids, everything comes together easily, gently and in modest and appropriate proportions.

This Chardonnay was lean and nimble, it felt authentic and of the place. I had a chance to speak to the wine maker, Ari Erle, and we agreed that his Chardonnay resembled a great white from the Beaune, in Burgundy, France. A slightly golden color, an aroma that hints of nuts and apples all in balance that you can faintly taste. If an international-style Chardonnay is a Mack Truck, carrying Ice cubes down a metaphysical highway to your barbecue, Bat Shlomos Chardonnay is a Porsche speeding on a racetrack looking for its spiritual brothers, the Montrachet boys, Puligny, Batard,and Chassagne to get the band back together.

Too popular for tastings as none was to be had.

But as I have noted in previous articles, I think this grape and the wine by the same name is one of Israels finest, if one of its most under-appreciated. The Bat Shlomo offering is competitive with the best from the new world, like New Zealands Cloudy Bay for one, but not so loud and brash, and the Old World, like a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, France, say Comte LaFonde. In sum, this is a wine worth finding.

My sommelier, Tom, explained that one of the goals at Bat Shlomo was to introduce wines to the Israeli wine scene that made sense, in this place. Drinking big international style, high alcohol, fruit-bombs, in 90-degree temperatures makes no sense she explained. And it is hard to disagree, irrespective of what moves the market, or wine reviewers for that matter, tasting in environmentally controlled wine rooms.

The 2020 Rose was a simple, gentle Provenal style rose, that was graceful and easy to drink on a warm day. It had a gorgeous hue of light salmon and was perfect under the umbrella at the winery.

This wine was made from 100% Grenache, a red grape from the Rhone region of France. It is also grown throughout Spain where it is called Garnache. It is often made into delightful rose wines for warm temperatures, just like this offering.

All of the red wines, and there were too many to write about, had a distinctive personality. This alone made Bat Shlomos wines different from larger winerys offerings, which are more available in the United States.

Carignan is a grape that was introduced well over 100 years ago to this area when the Baron Rothschilds experts came and started planting vineyards. Carignan is usually a grape that is blended with others into a final cuve. In this more robust rose, Carignan is used as a solo act, rather than as an additional performer.

This wine is spicy and blended to be served with food. It has a deep color and flavor. It truly defies description, other than to say, tangy and refreshing due to its high acidity. Its color is orange-pink. At 11.1% alcohol, it is a light wine. I do not know what to think of it, but it was well worth trying.

All of the red wines, and there were too many to write about, had a distinctive personality. This alone made Bat Shlomos wines different from larger winerys offerings, which are more available in the United States.

One might be forgiven for assuming that this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah would be the stereotypical high potency fruit-bomb checking in at around 14% alcohol. Instead, it is a rather stylish and easy to drink red wine well suited to warm weather, and very pleasant.

All of the red wines, and there were too many to write about, had a distinctive personality. This alone made Bat Shlomos wines different from larger winerys offerings, which are more available in the United States.

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine was wonderful to drink now, with well integrated tannins, yet a structure to age and mature for years to come. It feels like a new world red, in the best of ways.

Strong, yet sophisticated, bold but not over-powering, this wine, having been aged in French oak for two years, the Vintners Blend displays the blackcurrant and cedar properties of classic Cabernet Sauvignon, is balanced and highly nuanced. If you can find this wine you must try it.

To sum things up, I love this winery, it is beautiful and it crafts beautiful wines. The wine tasting was lovely from beginning to end. This was so, not only thanks to the fabulous wines (and cheese), but also because of the incredible ambiance as well. Too many wineries set visitors up for tastings in the now too common, glass, wood, steel wine-a-dized, vin-a-fied generic tasting room. Some even have a view of a vineyard.

In contrast, it would be impossible to replicate the Bat Shlomo winery tasting experience. I recommend a visit to this winery to anyone in the area. I hope to stay in one of the villas the next time I come, and when I do, perhaps I will write about it. I am sure that stay will be exceptional.

As for the wines, the white wines moved me. Both the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay are outstanding. It was hard to keep tasting after the Chardonnay. All of the wines were terrific with cheese. Both of the rose wines were excellent in different ways. The Regavim blend would make sense as an everyday red, and the Vintners Blend is a special occasion in a bottle.

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Andrew Zashin is a Kosher wine aficionado and he writes about law for the Cleveland Jewish News. He is aco-managing partner with Zashin & Rich, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.

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Bat Shlomo Winery one-of-a-kind - Cleveland Jewish News

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