(Mike is my nieghbor, although we never met).
Let me first introduce myself: I am from Israel, relatively very new to the wine world as an active wine-lover. My focus is on local red wines and my cellar includes around 300 bottles, all from the current millennium.
The price discussion has been a very hot topic in the last year or so.
There are two major reasons:
- One is the devaluation of the US$ against the local New Israeli Shekel by 30%, which has recently narrowed to 20% - leaving the current exchange rate at 3.6 NIS per 1 $US.
- The second is the increased exposure of Israeli wines in Europe and North America: by wine reviews, press, or by the on-line coverage by likes of Gary Vaynerchuck
The result is a 10%-30% price increase of several new issues of wines with Rogov's score of 90+, over last year's vintage. When converting to $US, it could be over 50% increase.
Now to my personal opinion,
I have put the barrier at 200 NIS (56 $ today). Except for maybe one ot two bottles, I have never paid more than that. I do try to find a good deal buying future or at the wine release date, or on special sale days.
The wines in question come from very small issues, starting from a barrel or two, and up to few thousands bottles. Therefore, in the short run the winery will sell every single bottle, even at the outrageous list price of 64$ we have seen recently.
Another factor is the very high price of good imported wines one can find in Israel.
Not being an expert, I tried to get familiar with the range of labels offered by representative wineries from France, Italy, and Australia.
I have found out the wines I would consider as "OK", start at around 35$, and excellent starting at 50$ and one can find only one or two from each variety. For most wines with a score of 93 or more, the price will be over 60$.
To illustrate, I will quote a few WTN, of wines which I purchased or tasted lately, as posted by Rogov on this and on the previous forums:
Perrin et Fils, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Les Sinards, 2006: Made from the younger vines of the estate, it might be fair to call this one the baby brother of the Beaucastel Chateauneuf. Dark garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, with soft, gently mouth-coating tannins parting to reveal a tempting array of blackberries, cassis and citrus peel, those supported nicely by hints of spices and a light note of sugared toasted brioche that comes in comfortably on the finish. Approachable now but best 2010-2016 NIS 219. Score 93. (61$)
Marques de Riscal, Reserva, Rioja, 2003: Perhaps the best Reserva from the Marques since the great wine of 1964. Dark garnet, with purple reflections, with simultaneously firm but laid-back tannins integrating nicely with spicy wood. Opens with a distinctly plumy note but that yielding quickly in the glass to blackberries, blueberries and vanilla notes, those on a background of spicy black cherries, herbs and floral notes. On the long finish look as well for near-sweet raspberries and a hint of mint. Approachable now but best 2010-2018. Score 92. 119 NIS (Re-tasted 13 May 2008) (33$)
Thorn-Clarke, Shiraz, Shotfire, Barossa, 2005: Full-bodied, with caressing tannins and spicy wood, those integrating very nicely indeed to show generous red plum, cherry and citrus peel notes, those with hints of fresh earth and sweet herbs all leading to a long and mouth-filling finish. Drink now-2015, ideally keeping several bottles aside for tasting every year or two as the wine develops in its complexity. Score 93. (Tasted but not blind 28 Jun 2007) 139 NIS (36$)
Tedeschi, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, 2003: Dark ruby towards garnet, full-bodied, with opening sweetness yielding with charm to bitter almond and bitter orange peel. On the nose and palate purple plums and floral notes supported nicely by overlays of figs and walnuts and, on the long finish a generous hints of leather and bitter-sweet chocolate. Long and delicious. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from 2010. NIS 230 (about US$ 70) Score 92. (Re-tasted 21 Jul 2008)
And a couple of examples outside my current price range:
Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo, Cannubbio, Piedmont, 2003: Full-bodied, with gently mouth-coating velvety tannins. Opens with plums and blackberries, those yielding comfortably to strawberries and notes of boeuf tartare and mocha, all on a lightly spicy background. Generous and long. Approachable now but best 2010-2018. NIS 270. Score 92. (75$)
Le Sang de Caillou, Cuvee de Lopy, Vacquyeras Rouge, Rhone, 2005: If you need a reference, think of this as an elegant country-style Chateauneuf. A full-bodied, generously tannic blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah, showing a meaty, almost musky and earthy nose and opening on the palate to reveal ripe currant, blackberry and spices. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from 2010 at which time those tannins will integrate somewhat more. Cellar until 2016, perhaps longer. NIS 250. Score 93. (Tasted 16 Jul 2008) (70$).
I would finish by saying that from most of the Israeli wineries in question, one can find a second label with a more reasonable (local) price in the range of 22-25$, with good QPR, nice cellaring potential, and a 90+ score.