Tuesday, September 29, 2020

It was a pleasure for my group to taste five selections from Nadiv Winery, a relatively new winery on the Israeli wine scene, and from which many in our group had not tasted or heard much. Its first vintage was released in 2014, and I had not tasted any since 2018, when I first tried their three levels of reds: Reishit, Matan and Elyone. It was nice to check in with them and see how these blends are faring.

Nadiv is a small boutique winery in the Judean Hills. The first thing I ever noticed about the wines was the clean, noble lines in their visually arresting label design (and the word nadiv means “noble” in Hebrew). The bottle image features a truly royal-looking crest. A bit of research highlighted that the designer is Annie Selby Brand Design, a Modiin-based group that has designed many of the sophisticated, cleanly rendered labels for great Israeli wineries we’ve written about lately, including La Forêt Blanche, Five Stones and Tishbi. It’s a classy presentation that, in the case of Nadiv, provides appropriate casing to the wines “fit for a king” we found inside the bottle.


Casting itself as a French-inspired winery, Nadiv makes Bordeaux-style wines while highlighting the unique terroir in the Judean Hills, Israel’s best-known winemaking region. Its website notes that the winery benefits from bringing in French winemakers to assist with every vintage, and that its focus is on appropriate blending and aging.

It was the first time I had tried their rosé. We tasted the Nadiv Rosé 2019, which is made of 100% tempranillo, typically a Spanish grape that we have seen from time to time in Israel. Though a little less expensive than its other selections at around $20, we recognized immediately that this rosé compared somewhat favorably with Netofa’s La Tour Rosado, which in 2019 was also made from 100% tempranillo. The taste is clean and fresh, with a nice balance of acid and minerality. It has a sweet nose, perhaps of strawberries, and then finishes with a muted bit of citrus. Perhaps it does not have as long and sustained a finish as the Netofa, but it still was a very nice Israeli rosé, and it seems every Israel winery needs to make a rosé these days, to capitalize on the market’s need for pink.

Next, we tried the Nadiv Reishit 2017. Meaning “beginning,” Reishit is Nadiv’s entry-level red blend at around $24, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely well made and a gorgeous choice as a very lush, fruit-forward red wine. And for many, I should mention that’s a top-of-the-line price, so it would make a good selection for Rosh Hashanah. This particular blend was of 65% cabernet, 30% merlot and 5% cabernet franc, and aged in oak for 12 months. It provided a heavy mouthful of berries, and for some in our group, a “slightly cloying” sense of stewed fruit, a bit sweeter than expected. However, we found it smooth and well constructed, and the extra bit of sweetness makes it perfect as we welcome a sweet new year.

Moving to the Nadiv Matan 2017, we found this to be an extraordinarily impressive Bordeaux-style blend. “Matan” means gift in Hebrew, which is what this wine is, without question. It comprised a surprising 70% merlot, 25% cabernet franc and just 5% cabernet sauvignon; was aged 15 months in selected barrels; and goes for about $40. “This is the first truly great wine of the night,” said Greg. Other tasters commented on its wow-factor viscosity, slow and smooth mouthfeel and a sense of ripeness and readiness. It was the undisputed favorite of the tasting. “This is why I really like Nadiv,” said Jeff.

Finally we tasted two Nadiv Elyone wines, which are top of the line for the winery, running around $50 to $55. These come in beautiful boxes and would make great High Holiday gifts. The Nadiv Elyone 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Nadiv Elyone 2016 Blend (50% syrah and 50% cabernet sauvignon) both needed time to breathe and open up, and even though they had been opened for close to two hours when we tasted them, we found they needed more time. It’s possible these wines need another couple of years in the bottle before they fully open up, but we were very impressed by what is there now and the sense that the wine would be performing incredibly well in 2022 or so. “It is a great base. Very high-quality fruit. Really too young to drink now,” said Yeruchum.

Nadiv wines are imported to the United Stated by Royal Wines.

By Elizabeth Kratz