2017 Vitkin Israeli Journey Red & Babi’s shloshim

This past month has been a little difficult personally. First and foremost, my grandmother Phoebe Davidowitz passed away. (While not at all wine related, out of respect for my grandmother you can find my hesped [eulogy] for her here). To top that off, 2 days before she died, my father while on his way to visit her in the hospital fell and shattered his shoulder requiring an emergency shoulder replacement. I flew in to help him out after the surgery and to visit my then ailing grandmother. She passed away the night after I arrived. My parents also sold their house and had a move out date less than a week after Shiva ended – between the surgery, recovery, Shiva & the move and it’s been a roller coaster personally and wine related pursuits have taken a a back seat – so apologies, but I hope you all understand. I am hoping for a much better month…..

Why the preamble? Because this Sunday night marked the Shloshim – 30 days – since my grandmother’s passing. Traditionally, the family and community get together and learn the entire 6 orders of the Mishna after which a siyum is made and a Seudat Mitzvah is held to merit the deceased. The VAST majority of my family lives in the NY-NJ area and that’s where everyone got together. At the same time I felt like I should also mark the shloshim here in Israel – so my family and my first cousin who is here for the year studying went out for our own meal to remember Babi as we affectionately called my grandmother. You might think that I would choose a really nice rare bottle to mark such a special occasion – but you would be WAY off. My grandmother was born during the depression and lived her life frugally. It would have been a slap in the face to drink something frivolous. So I chose what I hoped would be a nice QPR bottle which would really embody what Babi was all about.

In truth there are FAR too few drinkable red wines in this space. Most of the supermarket level wines are simply disgusting (though every once in a while there is a surprise). And there is no red wine I can think of below NIS 50 that I can recommend. But in the 50-60 shekel area there are a few – the Elvi Herenza, Carmel 4 Vats, some of the Carmel Appellation series, Domaine Netofa, some of the Tavor Adama series, Recanati CS & Merlot (most vintages) etc – with the Elvi & Netofa being the best of the bunch – great wines really that punch way above their weight. There used to be A LOT more, but the last few vintages have been hard in Israel. Couple that with the fact that most Israeli producers have chosen (shortsightedly) to produce wines that all taste alike and at inflated prices, and you are left with very little that is worth your time in that price range. In 2015 the Vitkin winery went kosher they produce their Israeli Journey series which is comprised of three wines annually – a Rosé, White and Red. They usually each provide decent value and are nice every day wines that also fall into this price range. Let’s get down to the the particulars of the recently released 2017 Israeli Journey Red.

The bottle nose opens ripe and sweet – but that blows off. Truth is the wine could have used decanting – but I had a whole meal to watch it evolve so I was fine. This medium bodied wine is as always a rather unique blend of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet Franc. Overall, the wine is balanced but it has less acid than the ’16 but enough structure to carry it through it’s intended drinking window, with soft powdery tannin. In the mouth, primarily red fruit with a hint of roasted meat. A somewhat shorter finish than prior vintages as well. In summary, while there is not much depth here and while it’s a half step behind the ’16, it provides fair value in a space that sorely needs more wines.

Bottom Line:

  • Price: NIS 60
  • For Aging: No.
  • Would I Buy Again: Probably
  • QPR Rating: Average
  • Taste/Depth/Quality: Average for the price
  • Overall Rating  (1-5): 2.5

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