Having spent a week in Israel, tasting wine on several occasions, I figured it would be nice to share my impressions with the forum. I would like to note that the wines I had were not chosen by me, and, more importantly, for the most part they were wines I don't recall having had in the past.
Teperberg Red 2009 - The Red is an entry level blend of almost equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine opens with a kick of spice and ends with green tobacco and earth, sandwiching supple red and black fruit. Of all the entry level wines I had of late this was the best. Unfortunately, this wine lacks consistency, as I was disappointed with the '10 vintage.
Teperberg Red 2010 - While the blend is similar to that of the '09 vintage, the wine tasted very different. If I'm not mistaken the alcohol level is significantly different between the two vintages, the '10 standing at a mere 13% AbV, whereas the '09 has about 14.3% AbV. As a result the '10 was much duller, lacking the spiciness of the '09. It almost seems that the winemaker chose to alter his approach in '10, with an outcome that disappointed me.
Yarden Syrah 2005 - With 15% AbV, the wine delivers ample spice, adding depth to the blueberry notes. Its pleasant but not complex.
Gamla Sangiovese 2009 or 2010 - Peeping out from beneath the oak and tannins were nice notes of vanilla and cherry. The wine is medium bodied and went well with the meal. I recall it having 14.3% AbV.
Barkan Classic Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot - On the flight home, El Al offered a glass of this blend. Unable to take note of the details, I'll just say that it was rather thin in body and with a bit of astringency, but it still provided pleasure even in the paper cup it was served.
Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 - As an entry level wine it is not bad. This cab is approachable young and seems to have been intended for early consumption, with its mellow tannins and low acidity. The fruit is dominant, yet the tad of earth and tobacco on the finish is sufficient to raise it a notch. The alcohol is well integrated, so that its actual level did not stand out enough for me to take note of it. Nonetheless, of the various entry level Israeli wines I had over the past week, my favorite is the Teperberg Red of the 2009 vintage.
My takeaway is that Israel's entry level offerings are improving, and after not being offered a glass of white wine over the entire week, I think that Israelis are drinking too little white wine.