I was deferring to the pros--David and Yossie--but seeing how everyone is impatient, I'll briefly post my recollections (I didn't take notes--I'm lazy like that). Disclaimer: At wine tastings, my ONLY goal is to separate the chaff from the wheat and find out what's worth buying to taste at home. I can't begin to form detailed TNs when trying 80 different wines in the span of an hour or 2--particularly since I don't believe in spitting out perfectly good wine
Overall impression: 2009-2011 were not good vintages for Israeli wines (which were the overwhelming majority of wines tasted). Although I'm sure GHW and some of the other big wineries will use their skills and experience to create great wines (as in "winemaker's vintage"), the boutiques (which dominated this tasting) and surprisingly, Carmel, haven't done as well, with lots of unwelcome green notes or the opposite--overripe notes of raisin. The flip side of that is that the baseline quality level of Israeli wines has improved to the point where even in these off years the baseline was pretty good--almost all of the wines were more than decent--unlike say the vast majority of Old World wines poured at the KFWE every year.
The star of the show--head and shoulders above anything else poured--was the Gvaot Gofna Pinot Noir (A). I can't pretend to know what PN is supposed to taste like because there are so few specimens on the kosher market that aren't undrinkable crap. GHW makes a very nice PN, but it tastes more like a syrah, with big, spicy fruit and none of the understated elegance PN is known for. The only other PN I've really enjoyed is the Four Gates (with an honorable mention to the City Winery PN). Having said that, this is an incredible wine and helps me understand why PN is all the rage these days. Full bodied but incredibly elegant, with an awesome nose. Unfortunately, I didn't get to this until late in the tasting, so I have a rather blurry recollection, but I liked it enough to want to buy every bottle I can get my hands on, as only a few cases were imported. I was told that Skyview received a case of 12 but he'd only sell me 4. That only leaves 8 bottles. My advice is to go and order 4 bottles for yourself right now. You will regret missing this one.
Once we're on the Gvaot table, their Herodian CS (B+) is excellent, brimming with tobacco and cassis. The Herodian Dance (B) I was less impressed with but perhaps it'll improve once the components have had more time to integrate.
Allied was also pouring a nice selection of Saslove wines, which I was excited to taste as I'd heard a lot about them but never seen them before (they just went kosher) but they were a disappointment. None were bad, but none were exciting either. All just plain OK. I hope their higher-end lines are much better.
There was a new Dalton blend (can't remember the name) that I couldn't get at all. I think it's a flop. The Dalton Anna was nice to try as I'd never spend that kind of money on it. It's a well-made wine but not my cut of tea. Too sweet and liqueur-like for my taste. The Shiraz on the other hand was delicious as always.
There was a new Italian winery "QUADRI LATERO" at the Allied table but it was totally undrinkable.
Moving along to the Brobo-however-it's-spelled, which you don't usually see at East-Coast tastings. There were 3 brobs being poured: the Besomin blend (can't remember what's in it) (B+), Makom carignan (B++), and Grenache (A-). All 3 were excellent but the Grenache was my personal favorite, combining medium-bodied elegance with powerful black fruit and spices. The Makom was also very interesting and unusual. I look forward to drinking all 3 these wines at home when I can better appreciate them.
Royal was pouring the new '09 crop of Carmel SVs with their new labels, matching the limited and Mediterranean, none of which were that great. The Sha'al Merlot (C+) was VERY sweet, cloyingly so, reminiscent of stewed plums. It'll settle down given some time but will never come into balance. The Kayoumi shiraz (B-) was also very unbalanced. The Kayoumi CS (B to B+) was by far the best of the bunch but still nothing to write home about.
Shilo Legend (A-) holding up well. Shilo Mor blend (B-)
Goose Bay Pinot Noir (B-) very thin.
There was an Argentenian malbec here as well--can't remember the name--but it was undrinkable, with searing tannins and residual sugar.
2011 Tulips: The CS (B) was a nice light quaffer but the merlot (C) was sweet, harsh, and unbalanced .
Gary was pouring a newly-received batch of Laurent Perrier (B++) which was really refreshing in the stifling heat. A wonderful surprise was the Elvi In Vita (B+)--an unpretentious but absolutely delicious hot-weather quaffer. Also pouring an Elvi Adar Cava in a redesigned label (B).
2010 Binyamina Reserve Carignana (B) A pleasant light-bodied quaffer.
Recanati was pouring 2010 White Special Reserve (B+), which is a great wine but wildly over-priced; the 2007 Special Reserve Red (B++) which was drinking very nicely, and the 2010 meditarranean lineup: the PSZ, Wild Carrignan, and Syrah, all with redesigned labels to match the carrignan. Pouring these wines was a shame, as they're completely inaccessible. They just arrived from Israel, and were opened minutes before pouring. I couldn't get anything at all out of them.
The River was pouring Kadesh Barnea (F), which was undrinkably sweet, and a lineup of Gush Etzion (unfortunately, they didn't have the best of the bunch: the Cab Franc): 2009? Syrah (B-) very overripe, sweet syrah, without the muscle to hold it together like a good GHW, the overall result being rather flabby. 2007 Blessed Valley Red (B) a nice blend, a bit on the sweet side--definitely a New World styled wine. CS (B+) a classic cab brimming with black fruit and a long graphite finish.
All in all, Happy Hearts had the best table, as they were pouring old, mature wine (mostly from Hevron Heights) that was drinking phenomenally well, rather than restricting themselves to the very-young so-so wines of more recent vintage. I saved this for last (as most of the wines weren't new), and did more drinking than tasting at this table
The big surprise here was the 2009 Ohr Haganuz Select Reserve CS (B+ to A-), as this winery doesn't have the greatest reputation. This is one of the last wines I tasted so I'd have to retaste to form a proper TN but it was a very good, full-bodied CS and drinking well despite its relative youth. I look forward to buying a bottle of this. They had the full lineup of Hevron Heights, all of which was delicious and all of which I've tried many times before. The standouts were the 2004 Syrah, the 2005? Pardess--rich, supple merlot with bracing but velvety tanins, and the Makhpela, the vintage of which I can no longer remember. The tempranillo on the other hand was rather thin, sweet, and unbalanced. There was a rose(Odem I think) and some dessert wines at this table as well, along with a small selection from Odem, but nothing stood out.
After the tasting I had a fun dinner with David and Yossie. They ordered some cava but I stuck to beer