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Ella Valley winery visit...

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David Raccah

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Ella Valley winery visit...

by David Raccah » Mon May 30, 2011 4:27 pm

It took some time but I am happy to start posting my winery visits from my last trip to Israel on my blog! This winery is one of my first loves in the Israeli kosher winery scene: Ella Valley Winery:

http://kosherwinemusings.com/2011/05/30/ella-valley-winery-the-beautiful-high-tech-winery-of-the-judean-hills/

David
Checkout http://www.kosherwinemusings.com for my blogs on the world of kosher wines and follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/kosherwinemuse.
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Elie Poltorak

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Re: Ella Valley winery visit...

by Elie Poltorak » Mon May 30, 2011 7:05 pm

David:
I have to take issue with your definition of a boutique. You basically equate boutique with better quality. I don't think that's a useful definition. There are some very good large wineries that pay attention to every detail (at least with respect to their high-end wines) and there are some very lousy boutique wineries. I would posit the definition of a boutique is a winery that does not try to be all things to all people but rather treads its own path. In other words, rather than trying to achieve a certain predetermined style that satisfies critics or is popular in the market, a boutique winery's focus will be on expressing its particular terroir (e.g. Four Gates), or experimenting with a particular varietal (e.g. Shirah Wine), or to please the winemaker's own (often eccentric) palate. Thus, a boutique winery fills a niche which you may like or dislike, while a non-boutique winery tries to make wine for everyone.
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Re: Ella Valley winery visit...

by Elie Poltorak » Mon May 30, 2011 7:19 pm

Also, although I fully identify with your tasting note for the Syrah, I'm surprised you call it full-bodied and "viscuous." I found it less full bodied and more elegant than comparable wines (say the Yarden single vineyard syrahs). Definitely a spectacular wine though.
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Re: Ella Valley winery visit...

by David Raccah » Mon May 30, 2011 7:32 pm

Hello Elie,

Did you really read my posting:

A boutique winery worries about every small detail, down to the time to pick a single row of vines, all the way to what yeast to ferment that plot of grapes with, and what barrels to age those grapes in. If I were forced to explain what a Boutique winery is to me in a single sentence it would be this. A boutique winery is; a winery where every grape and every small decision is weighed with the quality of the product in mind more than the bottom-line. This could be taken out of context to say that larger producers do not care about quality or that they act in a more bulk minded manner. That could not be farther from the truth. Just look at Carmel’s appellation series, or Castel’s Grand Vin wines. In the end, many large wineries have more boutique styled wines in their massive portfolio, but it is always cool to drink wines from a winery where all the bottles and varietals are managed using the same boutique approach.

I knew many would think incorrectly about what I defined as a boutique winery! So in advance of your pre-stated issue - stated in the article, and above, that it is the farthest thing from the truth! Again, a boutique winery is a winery where a row, a block, a hillside, or a cluster is looked upon differently than on mass. In a boutique winery, the end DOES NOT justify the means, rather the end is the means, it is the culmination of many small and complex decisions, that for mass produced wine would be impossible and undo-able, and not cost worthy.

I hope that is clearer, also I am sorry we do not see eye to eye on the Syrah but it was how I saw it on that day.

Best Wishes,
David
Checkout http://www.kosherwinemusings.com for my blogs on the world of kosher wines and follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/kosherwinemuse.
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Re: Ella Valley winery visit...

by Elie Poltorak » Mon May 30, 2011 8:21 pm

David:
I certainly did read your posting and you've clarified it more now. Nevertheless, you seem to equate "boutiqueness" with better quality--with the caveat that even large wineries make boutique-style wines. That's what I took issue with. I think a high-end non-boutique wine can be made with the very same attention to detail and devotion. (N.B. I do not use the term "mass-produced" as that denotes lower quality. Ultra-premium offerings from non-boutique wineries are hardly mass-produced.) I don't think a boutique-style wine (including those wines from large wineries that are made in a boutique style) is necessarily better than a great non-boutique wine (e.g., Yarden Katzrin, Rom, Dalton Matatia, the great bordeuaxs). Different, not better. The difference lies in the style, not the quality or the size of the winery.
As for the syrah, certainly no reason to be sorry. I always delight in how two people can open the same wine and experience it so differently. In this case, we agree on far more than we disagree. I would hypothesize that the heavyness/viscosity you felt was due to your tasting it alongside crisp whites, whereas I last tasted this wine with grilled lamb chops, alongside much more full-bodied wines.
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Re: Ella Valley winery visit...

by Doug Z » Tue May 31, 2011 1:29 am

maybe im just nitpicking, but i thought boutique is simply a question of bottle production.

under a certain amount, say 3000-5000 bottles, is a boutique. a small specialized business.

quality is a different issue.

maybe a boutique winery must rely on quality and not volume to stay afloat, but even a lousy wine can be from a boutique winery, no?
"I don't know much about classical music. For years I thought the Goldberg Variations were something Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg did on their wedding night." Woody Allen
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Re: Ella Valley winery visit...

by David Raccah » Tue May 31, 2011 2:24 am

Hello Doug,

As I traveled through Israel I saw many wineries, all in many different shapes and sizes. All I can say is that there are many large wineries with boutique style and built wines that all worry about the vineyard, plot, the wine style, etc. for their upper tier wines and then they also have their mass produced wines.

Then there are small wineries all making boutique wines which turn out average at best wine.

What I love about Ella Valley is that they produce wines in a boutique style, they put effort in the wine's style, and they make darn good wine to boot!

David
Checkout http://www.kosherwinemusings.com for my blogs on the world of kosher wines and follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/kosherwinemuse.
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Daniel Rogov

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Re: Ella Valley winery visit...

by Daniel Rogov » Tue May 31, 2011 3:20 am

Monsieurs et Mesdames,

A call to order on definitions. The expressions "large winery", "medium-sized wineries", "small wineries", "boutique wineries" and "garagiste wineries" relate to one and only one thing - the physical size of the winery - that is to say, the number of winse produced. The terminology has nothing whatever in common with the quality of the wines produced.

Defining a boutique or garagiste winery by the individual attention it gives to vine location, trellising methods and winemaker's intents or desires has no meaning and that for two reasons:

(a) small wineries have a limited number of vineyards/grapes from which to choose. Because of that you can be fairly assured that if only 30 barrels of wine are harvested, almost all of those grapes will find their way into the "top level" wines of the winery and that almost regardless of quality. Small wineries have far fewer options for final blends (even in a 100% varietal wine) than large.

(b) at least some of the very best wineries pay an enormous amount of attention to what is happening in the vineyard and thus in separating/selecting grapes for premium wines, mid-level blends and lower-level blends. More than that, because a large winery will have far more grapes from which to choose, they are in an ideal position to make wines at different levels. Boutique/garagiste wineries do not have that ability.

A related point - there is absolutely no guarantee in predicting the quality of the wines of wineries in any of these categories. That depends largely on the vines, the winery, the winemakers and yes, the owners of the winery who often set the philosophy. And, of course, experience over time. Let us keep in mind for example that when Chateau Le Pin started up they did so in a garage (literally) and until they released their wines were considered little more than a joke in Bordeaux. The same might be said of an Israeli winery in the city of Tsfat (Sefad) which started out earning a reputation as a joke and has managed to maintain that reputation for nearly a decade.

On a thoroughly personal (albeit also professional) basis, I have fairly well abandoned using the terms "garagiste", "boutique", etc in favor of "very small", "small", "medium-sized", "large" and if one likes even "gigantic". As said earlier, that describes nothing but the size of the winery and says nothing whatever about the quality of their wines.

Finally, I cannot help but wonder if the use of terms such as garagiste and boutique have not have not been abused and in the name of "romance". Something akin perhaps to the use of terms such as: Selected, Reserve, Special Reserve, Royal Reserve....?
Rogov
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Re: Ella Valley winery visit...

by David Raccah » Tue May 31, 2011 4:21 am

Daniel,

Being that the term itself has no real application to wineries other than maybe size, I will back off this subject. However, the term was never used for wineries, actually the term boutique, if looked up in a dictionary and sorts, relates to:

1.
a small shop or a small specialty department within a larger store, especially one that sells fashionable clothes and accessories or a special selection of other merchandise.
2.
any small, exclusive business offering customized service: Our advertising is handled by a new Madison Avenue boutique.
3.
Informal . a small business, department, etc., specializing in one aspect of a larger industry: one of Wall Street's leading research boutiques.

When it comes to the wine world it was stolen and used by many for how they viewed the winery and the wine world in general. So, we can attempt to apply the word to the barest form of what it means - small and there I will not disagree. However, attempting to apply any real number of bottles, barrels, or largese to a winery based upon its output, is equally not founded by the meaning of the word.

With that I lay my opinion to the side, and hope we can agree that Ella Valley is a fine winery - whatever, noun you may wish to apply to it.
David
Checkout http://www.kosherwinemusings.com for my blogs on the world of kosher wines and follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/kosherwinemuse.

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