Sommelier sessions with Elad Shoham

21 Nov 2016
4 min read
Award-winning Hotel Montefiore’s head sommelier and mixologist, Elad Shoham, speaks to FOUR about how good Israeli wine can be…

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a suburb of Tel Aviv but spent most of my life at the heart of the city.

What did you aspire to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a musician but as a child lacked the ability to sit still for more than five minutes. Choosing the hectic restaurant business suited that trait of course. I realized I love wine and music for similar reasons – both divers and tremendous worlds on their own, full with layers and nuances, able to create and invoke beautiful, inspiring memories and moments.

How did you find your way to into the world of mixology/wine?

I began my career in the hospitality business at a very early age, filling every station from washing dishes, waitering, bartending with a big tendency towards the culinary side and kitchen work ( I was actually a part of the kitchen staff in Hotel Montefiore for a while). As floor manager at the CoffeeBar I took the wine management and later on the beverage management for our whole group of restaurants.

What does it entail to be the head mixologist/chief sommelier at Hotel Montefiore?

Like everything we do, we want our guests to feel special but also comfortable, up to date but also on familiar grounds. From the wine menu perspective, it’s being able to have something for everyone, be it the wine aficionado who is staying at the hotel and is a having a full meal or the young couple who came to have a glass of wine and a bite to eat at the bar. It means delivering up and coming regions, wineries or styles, but also having a fair collection of the classics. We also like to be less ordinary with our choices and cellar a big portion of our wines so we can release them when they are at their peak.And drinkability of course is the main key. In the end the wine or the cocktail you put in your mouth has to be tasty and balanced.

Can you suggest FOUR delicious cocktails that you have on the menu at Hotel Montefiore/wines that you wouldrecommend from Israel ?

Riesling, Sphera – Doron Rav Hon has set up a new benchmark for white winemaking in Israel. Focusing his winery solely on white wines, a very brave decision to say the least in a hot country dominated by red wine consumption like ours. In the brief period aince the first vintage at 2012, he has backed up his promise to make the best white wine in Israel.Shoresh Sauvignon Blanc, Tzora – Eran Pick, winemaker of Tzora and the first Israeli to achieve the acclaimed Master Sommelier degree, focuses on making red wines, but his classic and tight SB from Shoresh vineyard in the Judean hills is one of the best in Israel, and puts a good fight for Loire Valley’s Sauvignon.C Chardonnay, Castel – One of the first boutique wineries in Israel, Ben Zaken Family makes a barrel fermented chardonnay that is inspired by the style of Bourgogne. We have on our list the 2014 vintage which is drinking beautifully now. Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Flam – This family owned andoperated winery established in the late 90’s, is focused on making thebest Israeli Wine at relatively little quantities. GolanFlam demonstrates every vintage how good Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon can be, if carefully attended. One of our favorite, served by the glass.

Cocktails –
– Campari with Tanqueray gin and Noilly-Prat red vermouth, over a large cube of ice. The classic apéritif.Jullius Mezcalita – A twist on classis margarita using Del Maguey Vida mezcal and Jullius Bitters. This bitter is based on local herbs, produced by the leading distiller in Israel, Yuval Joov Hargil. Yuval makes an array of beautiful and precise distillates, focusing only on domestic produce with a big keen for herbs, plants and fruit indigenous to our area.Bloody Mary – We make our own juice from tomato passata and vegetable stock seasoned with fennel seeds. With a good portion of fresh horseradish, it’s one of the best in Tel Aviv.Plum Tea – Green tea and jasmine Shōchū (traditional Japanese distillate), with sloe gin, cucumber and mint. Light and refreshing.

What interesting trends/themes are going on in the world of mixology/Israeli wine?

Finding the “Israeli” grape is still a big effort and challenge. What grape will portray best the capability and spirit of Israeli wines?
I like the attempts that some wineries make with Argaman, an Israeli crossing between Souzão and Carignan. The best made examples have a juicy fruit forward character combined with a good structure.Another trend going on is whites madeIndigenous grapes that has been cultivated in our region since ancient times, varieties like Hamdani, Daboki and Jandali.

Why do you think there has been a surge inpopularity for local Israeli wine andliquors?

I think there is a good core of professionals from all sides of our little industry that always try to push the limits of the trade a little bit further. Israelis love to innovate, and be the best at what they do.

What are your FOUR indispensable cocktail making ingredients/ wine collection favourites?

Any wine list will not be complete without wines from these regions –Piedmont Reds – Juicy Barbera or light and blossomed Nebbiolo with mouth watering acidity.Loire Valley Whites – Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé lead the fore, but I’m a huge fan of Chenin Blanc from Vouvray and Savenniéres. These Wines at their best pair with powerful flavours more than the most complex Sauvignon Blanc, and I personally find them fascinating. Rhône Valley Reds – Auster and tight Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage or juicy and flavorful GSM from the southern Rhône.Riesling – Be it from its native land Germany, Austria or even Israel. I simply love it in all shades and styles.

What’s next for you?

Continuing to do what I love and do best with my team, raising the bar for wine and cocktails.

Find out more about Hotel Montefiore here…