Holiday Preparations

As I have written in the past, come Jewish High Holiday season, I often find myself daunted by the number of new wines and in some cases even new wineries that can be found on the market.

As I have written in the past, come Jewish High Holiday season, I often find myself daunted by the number of new wines and in some cases even new wineries that can be found on the market. My inbox is bombarded with frequent emails informing me of new releases, tasting events, meetings with winemakers or special offerings that I just shouldn’t miss out on. Unfortunately, I am not able to attend all of these events or sample and review all of the new vinos released, nevertheless, the list is quite long and hence I decided to prepare several articles, describing some of the events and highlighting some of my preferred new wines.

Mony winery – Owned by the Artul Family, (who by the way also produces excellent olive oil) over the past couple of years, has undergone some major changes. A new winemaker was brought on (Sam Soroka), new labels and more. The investment is definitely bearing fruit and one can already see a significant improvement in the quality of Mony's offerings. Last week the Mony team officially released four new wines as part of the winery’s Reserve label, my favorites were the Mony, Chardonnay, Reserve, 2010 – 90% Chardonnay and 10% Semillon, aged for 6 months in barriques, light straw in color, on the nose and palate green apples, white peaches, green melon and toasted oak coming together nicely and leading to a clean finish. Mony, Shiraz, Reserve, 2009 – 5% Petit Verdot and the balance Shiraz, dark ruby in color, medium – leaning towards full bodied, the wine suggests layered aromas and flavors of dark berry fruits, plums, smoked meat and hints of warm spices.

Dalton – after several years of producing a single Bordeaux style blend under the Alma label, the Dalton winery recently released two new wines, turning the label into a series of interesting blended wines. Dalton, Alma, SMV, 2009 - coined by the winery as a Rhone valley style blend, comprised of Shiraz, Morvedre and Viognier grapes, dark purple in color, medium bodied, showing purple flowers, black berry fruits, fresh Mediterranean herbs and a touch of anise all backed by a refreshing acidity. Dalton, Alma, White Blend, 2010 – 60% Viognier and 40% Chardonnay, medium bodied, suggesting grapefruit, honeysuckle, and white peaches leading to a pleasant yet slightly sweet finish. The winery suggests serving alongside onion tart or pasta in cream sauce.

Golan Heights – Golan Heights, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamla, 2008 – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 months in barriques, a full bodied wine showing concentrated red berry fruits, cherries, black pepper, oak and fresh herbs. The next wine is an interesting blend comprised of 50% Touriga Nacional and 50% Tinta Cao, both traditional Portuguese grape varieties used to produce Port as well as dry wines. Golan Heights, Yarden, 2T - The Yarden, 2T, 2008 Aged for 18 months in French oak, the wine suggests tart red cherries, plums, dried flowers and orange zest followed by notes of dark chocolate all leading to a long finish. An interesting wine worth trying and if you are looking for a unique bottle to bring your hosts, 2T can be a good option. If you are looking for a reasonably priced dessert wine try the Yarden, Muscat, 2009 or Teperberg's, Late Harvest Riesling, Silver 2009.

Bravdo – The Bravdo winery recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary and while this may not seem like a long time in the world of wine, in the Israeli wine industry it is a cause for celebration. Last week, the Bravdo and Shusayev families invited a group of wine writers to visit the winery, sample Bravdo’s new releases as well as a rare tasting of one of the winery’s first vinos - Bravdo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001. While I was skeptical at first, the Cab 2001 was quite enjoyable, still lively and showing pleasant fruit. I also enjoyed the Bravdo, Chardonnay, 2010 – bright gold in color, on the nose – green apples, white peaches, yellow plums and hints of toasted brioche. The palate is slightly creamy, showing pleasant fruit and a clean finish. Bravdo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 – dark garnet in color, on the attack, black berry fruits and tobacco followed by blueberries, plums, thyme and a hint of cloves leading to a long finish.

Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rechasim, Dishon, 2007 – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from the Dishon vineyard; 18 month in primarily French oak, dark ruby in color, the wine is full bodied suggesting layered aromas and flavors of black berry fruits, black cherries, pepper and roasted coffee beans, those followed by hints of leather and dark chocolate. Segal also offers a very enjoyable Argaman based wine. Another option from the winery is Segal's flagship vino - Cabernet Sauvignon, Unfiltered, 2007: 90% Cab from the Dishon and Dovev vineyards and 10% Merlot from Dovev as well. Aged for 19 months in a mix of French, American and Central European oak barrels, the wine is full bodied, displaying pleasant dark and red berry fruits alongside notes of black pepper, dark chocolate and just a touch of smoked meat all leading to a long and satisfying finish.

Arza, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Charisma, 2010 – at under NIS 30, this is one of the better buys that can be found on the shelves of the local supermarket. 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, bright ruby in color, showing pleasant red fruit and herbs, light bodied and a clean finish.

Shana Tova