Martin Sinkoff
Martin Sinkoff

Wine of the Week: Sphera “First Page” 2020 (Judean Hills, white)

Sphera "First Page" Judean Hills white wine. Courtesy Sphera and Doron and Sima Rav Hon.

Game changers: In 3500 BCE, the wheel was invented. Transportation changed forever. In 1440 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Reading and learning have never been the same. In 1876 Alexander Bell patented the first telephone.  Communication changed forever.

Thomas Edison – Picture from Meyers Lexicon books written in German language. Collection of 21 volumes published between 1905 and 1909. Image purchased at alamy.com.

In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. Work, safety, city life changed forever.  In the 1960s the US Department of Defense developed the prototype of the internet.  We could not live without it today.

The indispensable iPhone. Image courtesy alamy.com.

In 1976 Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer.  “Think Different” was his motto and today we do!  In the 1980s, Howard Schultz merged two local Seattle coffee shops, Il Giornale and Starbucks under the Starbucks banner and expanded the chain. Coffee has never tasted the same. In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded an online book company in his garage. Amazon today is one of the largest corporations in the world and our ways of shopping have been forever changed. In 2009, Travis Kalanick created Uber and transportation, dining and access to services were revolutionized. And in 2012, Doron and Sima Rav Hon founded Sphera and the world-view of Israeli wine was transformed! 

Doron Rav Hon grew up in Eilat. After finishing university and realizing that the world of communications was not his interest he left Israel and studied winemaking in Beaune, France (Burgundy) and apprenticed at the legendary estate, Domaine Jacques Prieur, under the supervision of renowned winemaker, Nadine Gublin.

The Grand Cru Montrachet vineyard parcel owned by Domaine Jacques Prieur. Courtesy Domaine Jacques Prieur.

When he returned to Israel he became  the chief winemaker at Ella Valley Vineyards for ten years before founding Sphera with his wife and partner, Sima.

Sima Rav Hon’s family comes from the great city of Edirne, on the Bulgarian border, European Turkey. Her family, the Ovadia family, in Turkey for more than five generations, was part of the Spanish exodus in the 15th century. Sima left Turkey on her own in 1992 to make Aliyah to Israel. Five years later she met Doron Rav Hon in a discotheque and she, and they, fell in love.

Sphera produces only white wines.  They are an expression of Doron Rav Hon’s passion and of Sima’s and Doron’s aesthetics. The wines are models of precision and the winery is a light box that expresses the purity of the wines.  When the Rav Hons opened Sphera they were met with skepticism from many in the Israeli wine community who were sure that without red wines they would not succeed. Today, they are acclaimed and more than justly so!

“First Page” 2020 is an innovative blend of Bordeaux, Loire and Rhone grape varieties: Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Roussanne.  It expresses perfectly the vision of Doron and Sima: break all barriers but keep in mind eternal values: beauty, respect for nature, humility and pleasure.  The wine is nearly impossible to define which makes it all the more interesting.  Semillon lends a soft texture, Chenin Blanc adds a lovely fresh grape flavor and aroma and Roussanne adds spice and a certain “bite” to complement the Semillon. The wine is delicious!  “First Page” means a new beginning, a new chapter. It states in two words the story of Doron and Sima in their lives together and the story of a game-changing winery.  A First Page!

Pair Sphera “First Page” 2020 with fish baked “en papillote” with lots of Mediterranean spices and herbs, all cheeses from cow, goat or sheep milk and roasted poultry or, as always with whatever you like, whenever you like and with whomever you like!

לחיים, Sante, Salud, in Good Health!

Sphera “First Page” is not Kosher and is available in limited quantities for around $35 or 110 NIS or equivalent.

About the Author
Martin Sinkoff is a (still new) Oleh Hadash in Israel (almost two years). He lives in Tel Aviv. "I have had a long and successful career in the wine trade in the United States and France. I have lived in many places in the United States, including twenty years in Dallas, Texas (which I loved). I moved to Israel from Manhattan (where I was born). I am a past president of Ansche Chesed in New York and an active member of Kehilat Sinai in Tel Aviv. And I am an avid reader of Torah. You can read more about me on my website www.sinkoff.com." My writing reflects two of my passions: Torah and wine. The background photograph is a view of vineyards in the Judean Hills wine growing district of Israel, one of Israel's best appellations.
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