I’ve just learned, alas, that this will be my penultimate print contribution to the WJW. On the plus-side, the timing is such that I am very happily able to use this second-to-last column to report on the official return of the Domaine Netofa wines to the U.S. kosher wine market.
An Israeli wine producer from the Lower Galilee region, the Netofa winery is named for the village of Mitzpe Netofa — a vibrant, religious community located in the southern Galil.
Domaine Netofa’s 30 acres of vineyards are situated nearby in Kibbutz Ein Dor, on the slopes of Mt. Tavor—the grape varieties cultivated are Chenin Blanc and Roussane for the white wines, and Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Touriga Nacional for the red wines.
At the helm is Pierre Miodownick, a Frenchman-turned-Israeli winemaker of seemingly indefatigable energy who was one of the early quality kosher wine pioneers. Miodownick began his career as a winemaker in 1980; by 1988 he became the winemaker for Royal Wine Europe — the European branch of the Herzog family’s Royal Wine Corp, aka Kedem.
With Royal, Miodownick began producing kosher editions for many great wine estates across France, including several Classified Growth wine estates; he then branched out and began making successful wines for Royal in Spain and Portugal. He’s responsible for some of the very best kosher wines from Royal’s European portfolio.
Miodownick made aliyah in 2005, founded the Domaine Netofa Winery in 2006, released his first vintage of Netofa wines in 2009 — and all while still zipping around Europe making wine for Royal. He retired from Royal in 2014, and then focused his attentions on Israeli wine, specifically on cultivating wines in the Galilee.
Netofa’s wines were imported here by Royal from their first 2009 vintage through the release of their 2014 rosé. For reasons not made public, however, Royal stopped importing Netofa — officially they stopped in December 2017, but nothing newer than that 2014 rosé ever got released here. Thankfully, Netofa wines are back — and once again imported by Royal! I’m sure there must be an interesting story behind this.
The entire lineup of Netofa wines available here in the U.S. are worth pursuing. Without further ado:
Netofa, Latour, White, 2017 ($29): This oak-aged, medium-bodied 100% Chenin Blanc wine is really yummy — with a nose of straw, pear, vanilla and a little nutmeg, this continues through the palate with additional earthiness, braced by lovely salinity. Beautifully balanced.
Netofa, Tel Qasser, White, 2017 ($33): This 100% Roussanne is a real pleasure to drink; full-bodied, bright, rich, floral, earthy, minerally, and fruity — green apples, pears, and quince, and all firmly braced by lively acidity.
Netofa, Latour, Rosado, 2018 ($29): This 100% Tempranillo rosé is fabulous! With a bright, ripe, tart nose of lime and raspberry, which carries on through the palate with more salinity, and a citrus profile that approaches limoncello. Elegant, balanced, and delicious.
Netofa, Latour, Red, 2016 ($29): This savory, fleshy, layered, balanced, medium-to-full bodied, delicious blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre offers aromas and flavors of assorted dark berry fruits, freshly cracked black pepper, a touch of weathered leather, chocolate, rich spices, a whiff of tobacco, and with a little charred meat on the lengthy finish. Yummy.
Netofa, Tel Qasser, Red, 2017 ($33): This ripe blend of Grenache and Syrah showed a little overripe on its own but welcomed a meaty repast very nicely; offering earthy notes of ripe plums and blueberries, tobacco and something that reminds me a touch of root beer — in a good way.
Netofa, Dor, 2016 ($42): This 100% Tempranillo is complex, wonderful, full, muscular, and powerful. Offering aromas and flavors of roasted meat, dark cherry-berry fruits, leather, smoked wood, espresso, Mediterranean herbs, sautéed mushrooms, and minerals. Finish is long and rich. A stunning, delicious, unique wine. L’Chaim!
Send your wine and spirits questions to Joshua E. London at [email protected].