What’s Sour Grapes been sipping on, you’ve been asking. Well, I’m glad you’ve been asking and one of the better and more surprising is a Cabernet dominated blend from Israel (93% Cab, the rest being Cab Franc).

The name of the winery Assaf, but as my Hebrew is just a little bit rusty, all I know is that it’s from Israel, from the year 2007 and there’s a “Reserve” on the label (I’m clear what Reserve actually means in Israel as it means virtually nothing in Chile, a major wine producing nation).

Anyway, onwards and as to the provenance of the wine, my wife sweet-talked one of her Israeli clients and ended up with a couple of wines.

Brilliant. I use the word “surprising” above simply because of my general ignorance of wines from Israel. So my expectations weren’t that high. Second, it has been maturing away in my wife’s office for well over a year.

How did it taste?

There’s some gorgeous silky fruit, along with a little holding back of the fruit – a Bordeaux like austerity and a super length. It’s very left-bank Bordeaux in style. Nice acidity too which keeps it fresh and an excellent food partner (we had it with lamb). I’d score this wine 91 points.

What little I could discern from any English on the label was that it’s the 2007 harvest, yet only put into bottle in June 2009. That hints at a professional outfit and a costly investment – almost two years between picking the grapes in 2007 and getting paid for juice.

Being a little provocative, I’d love to be the one to set the cat amongst the pigeons with a blind tasting between this and some top Cabernet-based wines from around the world, I think it could contend with a really good Cru Bourgeois or some classed growths from Bordeaux.


We can’t get our hands on this (or wines of a similar quality from Israel) over here. While there are a good 8-10 wines here of Lebanese origin, Israel’s next door neighbour, we see none from Israel save one or two stores which serve the Israeli or Jewish community.

That’s a real shame, particularly in the case of this fantastic wine from the Assaf producer.

So, if a ballsy importer was to take in one new wine from one new country, this would be my pick. And in the meantime, here’s to my wife getting more work from Israel!