We're Back...with a Great Israeli Red from Tulip Winery

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted--longer than I wanted it to be. But over the past three weeks, I’ve been to LA and back, Israel and back, dealt with a major family issue, and written approximately 9 million words on deadline.
The Food, Drink & Travel Report is back now, however, and man, is there a lot of ground to cover. Over the next several weeks, expect to see restaurant reviews from around the world; extensive reporting on the wines I tasted, producers I met, and regions I visited in Israel; and tasting notes on wines and a number of utterly fascinating spirits I’ve sampled recently.
For now, however, let’s start things off with a note on a wine that in many ways embodies just what the Israeli wine industry does so right. Tulip Winery’s “Black Tulip” 2007.
As delicious as this wine is, however, the story of the winery itself is even more soulful.
“In 2003,” according to Tulip’s web site, “the Yitzhaki family fulfilled a special dream of theirs and established a boutique winery that combines top quality wine production, alongside contribution to the community.

“The family chose to locate the winery on a hillside, in the northern edge of the Carmel Mountain, in a small pastoral village, Kfar Tikva, overlooking the magnificent views of the Jezreel Valley.

“Kfar Tikva - ‘Village of Hope’ - is a community settlement for people with special needs, which strives to allow the disabled community to develop and realize their potential.”
“Not long ago,” wrote Daniel Rogov, in his excellent Ultimate Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines, “when the Yitzhaki family considered ‘going Kosher,’ they were told that this would be no problem as long as the community members would no longer work there. Itzhak Yitzhaki, the acknowledged leader of the clan, replied with his head held high that ‘you should live so long that these people will no longer be part of the winery.’”
Happily, the impasse was only temporary: A solution was found that still allows the members of the community to work there, and from the 2010 vintage on, Tulip’s wines will be certified as Kosher, affording them the opportunity to sell as widely as possible in the country’s many Kosher-only retail outlets.
Tulip, however, is about much more than just a morally satisfying story. Their wines, too, are nothing short of remarkable, and their expressivity and thoroughly delicious character are handily embodied by the 2007 “Black Tulip,” a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. My tasting notes are below.
Tulip Winery “Black Tulip” 2007
The nose of this evocative, big-shouldered wine reminds me of the African hot chocolate at Angelina’s in Paris: Lush and rich, with a hint of spice cutting through it all. But there’s more to it than that, with kirsch and a difficult-to-place herb note--likely the Cabernet Franc making its presence known--lifting and freshening it all up. These turn to flavors of melted licorice, blackberries, dark-berry cobbler, spiced plums, and warm vanilla that linger and practically beg for some sort of grilled meat to accompany. This is a wine that has some time left to evolve, but personally, if I had an extra bottle at home, I’d give it a turn in the decanter and drink it tonight. It’s seriously sexy wine from a producer with as laudable a conscience as you’re ever likely to find. I can’t recommend it highly enough.