The winter is always a busy season for us wine lovers in Israel, Europe and the USA as many public wine tasting events take place during this time of the year.
In Israel, we recently enjoyed tasting through most of the newly released wines made here at Sommelier 2014 last month as well as some of the best kosher wines made abroad at the Zur Agencies tasting 2 weeks ago in Tel Aviv which featured most of the french, italian and american wines that are part of Royal Wine Corp.'s portfolio. Additionally, last week was held for the third consecutive year the kosher wine expo "Wine Jerusalem" f/k/a Wine-Seven-Two at Binyanei Hauma in Jerusalem, the capital's international conventions center.
As well, last Wednesday London enjoyed its annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience (KFWE) at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel. Its sister events, New York City's KFWE and Los Angeles's IFWF will be respectively held Monday 2/24 at the Chelsea Piers in NYC and Wednesday 2/26 at the Century City's Hyatt Regency Plaza in Los Angeles.
While I have tasted hundreds of wines at these recent events, many of which were quite nice, I will post here only a selection of 7 wines that stood out at the Wine Jerusalem event.
Yatir, Forest 2010: A Bordeaux-blend this year of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petit Verdot and 10% Merlot aged for about 13 months in French oak barrels. Dark purple in color, the nose is loaded with ripe black fruit, roasted herbs and toasted oak with a hint of freshly brewed coffee. Very full-bodied with multiple layers of extracted ripe black fruit such as blackberries and a hint of blueberry jam, fleshy plums and cassis, followed by licorice, notes of cracked black pepper, pencil lead, balancing acidity and mouth-draping tannins gripping the mouth with a touch of tar and dark chocolate-covered espresso beans on the very long and supple finish. A great wine that is much more approachable on release now than were its older brothers at the same stage in their lives but with a solid structure that should allow it to develop further complexity for the next 4-5 years or so. 14% Abv.
Gvaot, Gofna Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: Gvaot's Dr. Shivi Drori truly made some fantastic wines in both the Gofna and Masada series in the difficult 2011 vintage and this wine makes no exception. Aged 16 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels and flushed out with some Merlot and Petit Verdot, this wine shows dark garnet in color with on the nose concentrated scents of cassis, blackberries and mint with notes of coffee and cigar box. Full-bodied with intense flavors of black forest fruit, cherries, black plums, tobacco leaves, graphite, cedar and dark chocolate all carried well by bracing acidity with still searing tannins that have yet to integrate on the long and plush finish. Destined for elegance, this wine will be around and will evolve for the next 5-7 years. 13.5% Abv.
Carmel, Vineyards, Kedesh Valley, Cabernet Franc 2010: "Vineyards" is the winery's brand-new series that's essentially comprised of several red and white wines that used to be part of the Appellation series and that have now been "upgraded" to this more "luxurious" series. The Appellation series remains with wines such as a Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz blend and a Viognier. Made of 85% Cabernet Franc from the Kedesh Valley and 5% Petit Verdot from the Alma Vineyard both in the upper Galilee with the addition of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Shaal Vineyard in the Golan Heights and aged for 10 months in French oak barrels. Dark garnet towards purple in color with on the nose raspberries, cherries and plums with notes of violets, cedar and tobacco. Medium to full-bodied with on the palate ripe plums and tart cherries as well as raspberries with hints of green bell pepper, leafy tobacco and an interesting element of seaweed greenness, good acidity with spicy-sweet pipe tobacco, cedar and firm tannins that coat the mouth on the long finish. An interesting, balanced and well-made Cabernet Franc. 14.5% Abv.
Tabor, Adama, Sauvignon Blanc 2013: Following a successful 2012 vintage, this fresh, unoaked Sauvignon Blanc is, in my humble opinion, one of Israel's best. Very pale yellow in color, aromas of citrus peels, ripe tangerines and wet grass dominate the nose with a hint of guava. Light to medium in body with on the palate gooseberries followed by a play between sweet-ish tangerine and bitter herbs with stoney minerals such as limestone and chalk on the mid-palate, yellow grapefruit with zesty acidity on the rather short, albeit refreshing finish. 12.5% Abv.
Lueria, Gewürztraminer 2013: The third vintage for what is considered by many as Israel's best off-dry Gewürz does not disappoint. Very pale straw in color, almost like water, with on the nose notes of fresh honeysuckle, tropical fruits such as pineapples, lychees as well as white peaches and orange pith. Medium-bodied with on the palate pineapples, kiwi, peaches and honeydew with nice acidity and a touch of sweet tangerines on the moderately long finish. Great as an aperitif, with fresh salads, spicy asian dishes such as spicy tuna sushi with panko and teriyaki sauce or with light, fruit-based desserts. 12.5% Abv.
GHW, Yarden, Chardonnay 2012: One of the 4 Chardonnay wines made by the winery and consistently a solid QPR choice. Light gold in color with green-ish reflections the nose features notes of green apples, fresh buttery brioche and roasted almonds. Medium-bodied with on the palate ripe green apples, toasted brioche, almonds, lemon pie and creamy pears with nice acidity as well as some touches of toasty oak in the background with notes of vanilla on the moderately long finish. A great pairing with butter and white wine-glazed trout with thin-sliced almonds or roasted chicken with marinated lemons and olives. 14% Abv.
Herzog, Special Reserve, Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2009: Deep gold in color with orange reflections, on the nose apricots, honeysuckle and ripe peaches with candied orange peels and a touch of vanilla. Medium-bodied and deliciously viscous with on the palate dry apricots, sweet cantaloupe, candied orange and tangerines, nice supporting acidity preventing the wine from being cloyingly sweet with a spicy touch of candied ginger and vanilla crème brûlée on the long and luscious finish. Really a nice and inexpensive mevushal dessert wine that should be a crowd-pleaser as well. I'm a big dessert guy so I'm not gonna say "great as dessert" but this wine should definitely be a great accompaniment to foie gras and tarte tatin. 9.5% Abv.