16 October 2011 – Lilach Winery
I don’t know if anyone else is using my wineries map, but I certainly am. Today Dina & I decided to go to the parika festival at Derech Hatavlinim in Beit Lehem Haglilit, so of course I wanted to know if there are any wineries nearby we might want to visit. A quick check of the map showed that the Lilach Winery is just a stone’s throw away in Moshav Kfar Yehoshua, so of course we arranged to visit.
The winery is owned and operated by Nir Lilach, who established it after returning from studies in Italy. Nir uses only organically grown grapes from his own vineyards. Along with Merlot and Petit Sirah, Nir is also one of just a few in Israel who grows Sangiovese, no doubt influenced by his time in Italy. He is also planning some additional plantings, possibly with grape varieties that are not common in Israel.
With annual production of about 900 bottles, Lilach makes six wines. We were able to try three – all Merlots in one form or another.
The first was a “regular” varietal Merlot that was anything but typical. The wine had none of the aromas and few of the flavors that I associate with Merlot, and if this had been a blind tasting I’d never have guessed it was a Merlot. Medium to full bodied with soft tanins and a pleasant medium finish, this is a wine that would go well with food but is quite nice on its own.
Next we tried a port style wine, also made from Merlot. The flavor was strong and raisiny, but it was too sweet for our taste.
The last wine we tasted was also a sweet desert wine, but this one was made using hot maceration in which the grapes are heated before pressing. This process, which Nir told us is sometimes used in the French region of Cahors, extracts more color and nuances of flavor from the skins, and this was immediately evident in the deep dark almost black color and complex aromas of the wine. In the mouth, this is a heavy, viscous and butterscotchy wine with vanilla overtones, the latter no doubt owing more than a little to the influence of the small American oak barrel in which it is aged. This wine is still a work in progress and I will be curious to try it again once Nir has decided when it’s ready for bottling.
Along with the three we tasted, Lilach also makes a Merlot rose, as well as Sangiovese and Petite Syrah varietals. There was no Petite Syrah available to buy but I did take a bottle of the Sangiovese. The price was quite reasonable and I am looking forward to trying it.
Nir was a wonderful host, and his passion with winemaking was evident as he told us about his grapes and wines. Visitors are welcome but please call or email in advance.Lilach Winery (04) 953-3308 firstname.lastname@example.org