This is a festival I really enjoy going to every year. I happen to love the Marina in general as a setting – super chill and relxed – plus there are 3 decent kosher restaurants that are in the connected Arena Mall – Bistro 56, Lechem Basar & Papagaio Prime, so you can take a break have dinner and go right back to the festival – which is even more important in this case as NONE of the food stalls are usually kosher. But while none of the food stalls are kosher, the vast majority (somewhere between 2/3-3/4) of the over 150 wines being pored were kosher. So there is plenty to drink and the price of NIS 79 (if you didn’t register early for the NIS 69 tickets) is reasonable. For me, there is a HUGE added benefit as I work in Hertzlia – and this is about a 6 minute drive from my office. So really, it’s a no brainer…..
Ultimately, there was very little NEW to taste – and a few favorites for me didn’t show up (I remember fondly a couple of years ago being among the first to taste the ’14 Kayoumi Riesling at this festival) – but as has been noted elsewhere, the ’17 vintage is shaping up to be decent to good for both Whites and Rosés.
There were a couple of new things to try though for instance the 2017 Jezreel Pet Nat – which this year is a blend of Dabouki and Columbard. It is a vast improvement over last years inaugural release, with the offensive cabbage and cheese nose gone, and the green apple more prominent – though with Pet Nat one really needs to drink immediately after opening as the bubbles don’t last for long – and a wine festival is a sub-par place to do any serious tasting in the first place, let alone have access to a fresh bottle – but it’s worth a second look so I bought a bottle. Also props to Jezreel for some good marketing here capitalizing on the distinctive label by having a pourer with a passing resemblance don a matching wig. Good job there! Also available was their 2017 Rosé which is one of the nicest this season, and the 2016 Levanim white blend which I also like – so it’s worth checking out. Also at the Tzur stand were Psagot’s 2017 Rosé, 2016 Viognier and 2017 Chardonnay – all nice.
I also took the opportunity to taste through some of Kanatir’s current offerings. I started seeing their wines pop up a couple of months ago and had only tasted a couple. If you are looking for a bone-dry Gewürztraminer (and don’t mind paying about NIS 90 for it) – their 2017 is really nice, with some slate and spice wrapping up the traditional Gewurtz profile. The Rosé is also not bad.
At Tabor, the 2017 Roussanne alone makes the stand worth visiting, but once you are their, you might as well take advantage of the ’17 Barbera Rosé as its also a winner.
Netofa was pouring the 2017 Domaine White and Rosé as well as the 2017 Latour Rosado – all three are worth your time and shekels (the Domaines being two of the few wines priced at a true discount at the festival, the rest being average with the Latour at 90 ).
On the other side of the spectrum, there were a couple of wineries who were pushing 2016 Rosés. I took the opportunity to address one of them – explaining that they were doing themselves a disservice. He tried to argue that his wine was still good. I tasted and – the wine was far from dead – but certainly past peak. The person running the booth agreed with that assessment. I asked – then why out it out at a festival? This is a marketing opportunity. You are getting to hit a huge cross-section of the public – why would you want to put out wine that is past peak as your representative to a public that is being given the opportunity to taste a number of far superior fresh 2017 Rosés? On equal vintage footing, you are at least making an effort to compete – but here you are basically shooting yourself in the foot in an effort to move a couple of bottles of wine at the festival…. It makes no sense – and he had no answers…. People – DON”T REWARD BAD BEHAVIOR – there are plenty of better, fresher 2017 options out there!!!
Overall though, the White Festival is a nice night out – so head down to the marina, drink, eat, relax and enjoy!