Who, anywhere, can say that they can go outside their house and walk five minutes to a winery? And here it is, Lagziel Winery, located in our small moshav in the Western Galilee, in the north of Israel. It was a pleasure to spend this morning with Moshe Lagziel, who, with his son, Yariv, manage the vineyard and produce the wine of this boutique winery. The word boutique comes from the French language via Latin and means a shop. It originally was used to describe a small clothing store but now the word has expanded to include small and exclusive hotels and restaurants. The common definition, when applied to wineries, refers to one producing less than 100,000 bottles per year, so this winery qualifies.
The history of Lagziel Winery started as one of Moshe’s hobbies back in 1980 when he began to make his wines, then producing 40 bottles. Over the ensuing years, he increased the number of bottles in order to give more to family members and friends. Everyone said that he made fine wines and that he should increase his production and start to sell them. His hobby became a business in 2005, when Yariv, his son joined him. They purchased grapes from Moshav Kerem Ben Zimra, and produced 1,500 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varietals. That year they also planted their first vines of these same varieties on 7.5 dunam (almost 2 acres) of land that they owned and in 2009, started making wine from their own grapes. Moshe says that his grapes are of a quality equal to the renowned grapes of Kerem Ben Zimra, although of a different flavor due to different terroir here. They have planted an additional 7.5 dunam and are now also growing Shiraz and are experimenting on a very small piece of land with Barbera. Having grown over the ensuing years, their most recent production was up to 10,000 bottles. The terroir is in a small valley with a slope of about 20 degrees, terra rossa and chalky soil at an altitude of 600 meters above sea level
The Lagziel Winery sells their Cabernet Sauvignon varietal from the 2008 vintage, which is aged 24 months in new oak casks. I tasted the wine today with Moshe immediately after opening the bottle, without the preferred breathing period. It evolved in the glass while we talked and after about 15 minutes revealed itself with hints of spring flowers on the nose and earthy fruits in the mouth with a velvety sensation on the palate and a lasting pleasant aftertaste. We shall report on it further after letting it properly prepare itself for tasting by being exposed to air for at least an hour before pouring and drinking. it costs 70 shekels (about $19 at the present exchange rate). The other wine for sale now is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon aged two months in stainless steel vats with oak chips together with Shiraz from the 2010 vintage. This costs 45 shekels (just over $12 at the present exchange rate). They produced a blend of one-third each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot that was called Tzunan from the 2008 vintage, but this is, unfortunately, sold out. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 vintage is about to be bottled, after its sojourn in oak.
The Lagziels are innovators and experimenters and in 2011, grew their grapes without irrigation. Considering that there is no rain here from April until after the harvest, this is very unusual. Moshe said that the grape vines were very stingy and the harvest yielded less than a metric ton/dunam. The grapes were smaller and drier than usual, looking a bit like raisins, and having a high sugar content. He looks forward to an increased quality wine and we look forward to tasting it. And starting with the 2011 vintage, Lagziel wines will be kosher. The entire Lagziel Winery, including doors, bar, and the tasting room corner seen in the picture below, were built by Moshe. They also produce liqueurs from the fruit that they grow in their orchards.
These include peach, nectarine, apple, plum and pomegranate flavors and liche flavored liqueur from fruit that they purchase. I tasted the liche flavor and it is smooth, sweet, clocking in at 20% alcohol. These cost 45 shekels/bottle. Yariv distilled some cognac last year that I tasted and was very good. I don’t know what became of that, but will go back to their boutique winery to ask when I return to purchase the 2010 Cab-Shiraz blend.