There is something endearing about modest winemakers in the way that, unlike many other artists, they are happy to remain in the shadows, to let their wines do the talking, to steal the show.
Kobi Arviv is such a person. As third winemaker at Recanati Winery the limelight was usually shone upon his seniors Gil Shatsberg and Ido Lewinsohn. But even at Kobi's own winery - Mia Luce - modestly shines.
Set in the back of his parents' home in the Israeli working town of Or Akiva, there are no blaring signs announcing the winery. Everything is tucked away in a nondescript chamber behind a shuttered door. Yet once inside, the allure of the barrels sitting patiently to the side, the boxes of wine ready for shipping, along with Kobi's passion and generosity, entice the visitor to explore Kobi's world, to try and understand what makes him and his wines so special.
We began our tasting with Bianco 2011, a blend of 93% French Colombard enhanced with 7% Chardonnay. Many Israeli wines are not made for aging, and especially not the whites, but Mia Luce is an exception. For years French Colombard was the go-to variety in Israel for low-quality bulk white wine. Bianco 2011 however is a unique expression of Kobi's desire to produce an original and complex wine, well-balanced and of high-quality.
Kobi started making his own wine in 2009 and we were happy to be able to try his first ever wine, Rosso 2009, This blend of 96% Merlot from Kadita in the Galilee and 4% Carignan from a wild, unwatered vineyard at Deir Rafat in the Judean Hills, produces "an exciting and overwhelming wine" according to Arviv.
I think its fitting to finish here acknowledging one of the most exciting Israeli wines we tasted in the past year. Syrah & Stems 2015 is 100% Syrah fermented with 2/3 of its stems for "greater freshness. elegance and trueness of expression". It is a wine that is both very approachable right now, but which will age well for a further few years. In October 2016 is was chosen as wine-of-the-month served in EL AL's premium classes.
There is no doubt in our minds that as far as Israeli wine-making is concerned, and more, the future is indeed in Kobi's hands.
Photos by David Silverman. Copyright © 2017 dpsimages. All Rights Reserved.