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Yoni M

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Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Yoni M » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:11 am

This evening I attended the opening night of the Jerusalem Wine Festival, held now for the fifth consecutive year at the Israel Museum. As in years past, it was well organized, with representation from both Israel's largest wineries and a rotating selection of boutique wineries. The weather held up nicely, with a characteristically cool and breezy, albeit quite humid (80%), Jerusalem summer evening. I also had the pleasure of seeing EY Han (formerly known as exabgen) and making the acquaintance of Mr. Bisco (whose name escapes me at the moment).

We went early on opening night figuring that we would beat the crowds and have more room to maneuver around. While there were certainly fewer people at 8PM than even one hour later, the venue was packed even shortly after opening. As with last year, and is to be expected from an outdoor venue (in Israel), people were smoking, well, everywhere. While this event is a festival and has much more of a recreational than professional feel, and while folks enjoy smoking with their wine, I still think that smoking should be limited to designated areas away from the tasting booths.

Now to the wines... Golan Heights Winery was pouring from the Yarden series (no Cabernet, though, unlike last year) and I began with their 2006 Viognier. Spicy apples and pears on the nose and palate and refreshing acidity. Next door at the Galil Mountain booth (pouring everything except for Yiron, again, in contrast with last year) I finally was able to try another Viognier-based wine, the 2006 Avivim. A very special nose, which between the notes of apple,pear, butter, and vanilla might as well be notes of freshly baked apple pie. After the nose, the wine disappeared without very much action on the palate, with little acidity, and without much of a finish to speak of. I tried the Viognier from Psagot as well, but my palate was too fatigued to appreciate it.

Next I tried to fill in the gaps for those Rosé wines that I had not yet tasted. We began with the Asif Rosé, which with Syrah as its primary varietal component has a much more earthy Old World feel than other Israeli Rosés. (The winemaker from Asif is a lovely fellow and I was grateful for the extended shmooze that he granted us.) On the flip side, Segal's Fusion Rosé, composed of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Syrah, was a semi-sweet fruit-bomb, its taste bearing a striking resemblance to a strawberry Fruit Roll Up. Somewhere between these two falls the Recanati, Rosé, 2007 which had an overpowering vegetal component, so much so that had I not known that I was tasting a Rosé I would have ventured that it was a varietal Cabernet Franc (a nice examplar of which was being poured by Psagot).

Apropos dominant vegetal notes, we found similar characteristics in many of the red wines that we tasted through the evening; something between bell peppers and the odor released when reconstituting dried mushrooms. I know that this issue was raised by Parker and discussed on the "old" forum, but I had never really noticed the phenomenon, and how widespread it is, until last night.

That's all for now...
Last edited by Yoni M on Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Avi Hein

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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Avi Hein » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:32 am

I am going tonight. Any recommendations either for wine to taste or specific things to pay attention to? Most importantly, although I suspect the answer is no, is the Gamla Brut available?
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Yoni M » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:40 am

Hi Avi,

All I would recommend is that you go earlier rather than later, as apparently the line to get in got progressively longer as the night went along. I didn't see the Gamla Brut, although, then again, I didn't spend very much time at the GHW booth. Carmel, on the other hand, was offering their Brut alongside most of their Appellation Series (with the notable exception of Carignan). This year I decided that I would start with whites, move to rose, and only then to reds, and that along with spitting made the experience that much more rewarding.

I forgot to mention that Yatir is offering their 2005 varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, their blended red, and Sauvignon Blanc.
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Eli R » Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:35 am

Hi,

AT GHW the Gamla Brut was available as was the 2004 Merlot (first appearance?).

Other notable reds (not new for me) were the Yatir blend and CS from 2005, Saslove new Adom blend of 2005, Avidan Shiraz Reserved 2005
(on special request).
There so many people that seem to be there to "drink" and not to taste, but 11PM, several boutique wineries were "sold out".
The queue to get tickets at around 8:30PM was at least 20 minutes.
For people coming from the coast - it was rather chilly.

Nice selection of wines were sold at reasonable prices, good opportunity for people living in Jerusalem where the wine shop chains are not represented and not all wines are available.
Eli
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Yoni M » Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:41 am

Eli R wrote:AT GHW the Gamla Brut was available as was the 2004 Merlot (first appearance?).


Oh well, I missed both of those last night (as well as making your acquaintance). I spent so much time at the GHW booth last year that I neglected other wineries...
Last night I was contemplating returning for yet another evening of wine tasting, but considering the hangover that I had this morning (even though I was spitting!), I don't think I'll be going back... 8)
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Josh Patt » Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:23 am

I went last night and made sure to get there just after they opened at 7:00 PM. It was nearly empty at 7:00 but filled up quickly and was very busy by 9:00. I would suggest going early if anyone is planning to go tonight.

The fair is very enjoyable and is an oppertunity to taste a wide range of wines in a pleasent setting. I took notes and spit the wines, but I was one of very few people doing so. I will post again latter when I get a chance to go through my notes.

Most of the wineries did not have their top wines for tasting, which probably makes sense for this kind of event. Of the large wineries, Recanati and Dalton had reds from their reserved series, Carmel had only the regional (no single vinyard), Barkan had their reserve CS and Pinotage, Golan Heights had only the Yarden Syrah and the Merlot, and Galil Mountain had only their Shiraz.
Of the large wineries, I think Recanati had the best stand, both because of the wines and the people pouring them.

With the small wineries, there is more of a chance to meet the owners / winemakers. Amoung these I liked Shiloh, Agur, Psagot and Gush Etzion.

Will post again latter with impressions on the wines tasted,
Josh
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by EY Han » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:51 pm

Josh Patt wrote:Golan Heights had only the Yarden Syrah and the Merlot, and Galil Mountain had only their Shiraz.
Of the large wineries, I think Recanati had the best stand, both because of the wines and the people pouring them.
With the small wineries, there is more of a chance to meet the owners / winemakers. Amoung these I liked Shiloh, Agur, Psagot and Gush Etzion.
Josh


Josh, I agree with you in retrospect that Recanati brought the best representation of their winery at the current time. I remember last year Tabor didn't serve their young reds at all, rather only the Adama series reds, yet this year they didn't bring any of their Adama series. I don't remember Agur nor Psagot being at the festival this year. I found it interesting that the two owners/partners of Asif Winery were the people manning their stand (very nice people, btw, and some of the best to schmooze with, etc.). And Katlav was a small big hit presence last year, but they were not to be found anywhere this year…

- E.Y.
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Josh Patt » Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:03 am

Some more detail as promised:

E.Y., I was also surprised that Tabor didn't bring any of the Adma wines. I also enjoyed the Asif booth, this is the first time I tried their wines, they had an interesting white blend and a nice fruity red blend.

Impressions from the other small wineries:
Shiloh - One of the best offerings from the boutique wineries:
2007 Shiloh Chardonnay - light golden color with apples on the nose. Light creamy mouth with a touch of oak and mineral notes on the finish. They said that it was 6 months in oak, but they used large (400L) barrels so the oak is not overpowering. In all a very nice well balanced Chard.
2005 Shiloh Merlot-Shiraz - Plenty of forest fruits and plums on the nose. Mouth filling with very gentle tannins but stil concentrated and complex. some wood and acidity to balance the fruit. The somewhat uncommon blend of Merlot and Shiraz gives a soft, easy drinking wine that is still concentrated and not just a burst of fruit.
They also had a Cabernet-Merlot blend that I found a bit held back and less interesting than the Merlot-Shiraz and also a fruity slightly sweet Rose to complete their offering.

Psagot - Their most interesting wine was a Cabernet Franc - medium bodied with still solid tannins, berries, oak and a bit of pepper in the mouth. A good CF not yet at its peak.
Psagot also had a Viognier and their "Port".

Gush Etzion had the 2005 Nahal Hapreim, a Bordeaux blend - bright red violet with cherry and plums and a ripe earthy feel. A nice bright red wine.

Agur had their 2007 Blanco. They are kosher from 2007, so this is my first oppertunity to try one of their wines. the wine is a mixture of 70% Viognier and 30% Reisling. It starts with a spicy viognier nose followed by mouth filling tropical fruit and a slightly sweet mineral finish. This is an unusual blend and the Viognier overpowers the Reisling except for the finish.

For the larger wineries:
Carmel had their Private collection Brut, which is a pale yellow almost colourless sparkler. It has a fruity Chardonnay taste with a bit of yeast at the end. A Decent sparkling wine and much better than what Carmel has had in the past.
They had the regional series wines, most of which I've had before, so I tried only the Gewurtz - litchi and tropical fruits with a pronounced sweetness and some acidity to give it balance. Nice fruity white to go with Asian food.

Recanati had a good selection of their reserve series wines:
2005 Syrah reserve - A deep garnet color, not very dark for a Syrah. The nose is intense with Blueberries and Raspberries. It starts light and fruity in the mouth followed by meaty tannins and a long slightly bitter finish. An impressive Syrah and one of the best wines of the evening.
2005 Merlot reserve - Blackberry and plum on the nose with a pronounced acidity. Lighter and less complex than previous vintages of their Merlot reserve.
2005 Cabernet reserve - deep royal purple with cassis, plum and other dark fruits. Good structure with solid tannins and the fruit felt through to the finish. A good fruity CS, true to the variety.
2005 Petit Sirah - Zinfandel reserve - Intense blueberry and plum, with solid tannins that are solid and chewy.
2007 Sauvignon Blanc reserve - A lightly oaked SB with grassy and mineral flavors and a dry finish.
They also had the 2007 unoaked Chardonnay and a fruity Rose.

Galil Mountain had mostly white wines:
2006 Avivim - a blend of 74% Viognier and 26% Chardonnay. spicy tropical nose with tropical fruits vanilla and oak in the mouth. A powerful wine, but the oak is too heavy.

Golan Heights had the Gamla Brut and some of the Yarden wines:
Gamla Brut - nice bubbles with a crisp yeasty taste. Lighter than the Yarden Brut, but in the same style.
2007 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc - very light and clear with a crisp grassy taste and a clean finish. Great for hot Israeli summers.
2006 Yarden Viognier - lots of tropical fruits, lightly spicy with a bitter finish. Probably the best Viognier of the evening.
2005 Yarden Chardonnay - the wood seemed to hide most everything else. It's worth paying a bit more for their Odem Vineyard Chardonnay which is more balanced.
2003 Yarden Syrah - An intense mouth filling Syrah.
2004 Yarden Merlot - Oaky nose. Starts soft and fruity in the mouth, but the tannins build up quickly. Needs a bit more time in the bottle. This will probably be a very good wine in another year or two, but most of the people at the fair will not appreciate that.

Dalton had an interesting selection of wines:
2006 Barbera - a nice Barbera with the tangy acidity you expect from Barbera.
2005 Reserve Merlot - Red brick color with ripe plums, even prunes on the nose. Light oak and refreshing acidity in the mouth with plum and cherry. A dry finish with a touch of chocolate. A good, well balanced Merlot.
2005 Reserve Syrah - a bit spicy on the nose (they add 10% Viognier). Good Syrah fruit, but not as rich or intense as some of the other Israeli Syrah.
2007 "Wild Yeast" Reserve Chardonnay - a flinty yeasty nose. Light and fresh in the mouth with a crisp dry finish and good length. A very good and interesting Chardonnay.

Tabor had only there basic dry reds along with the rose and a sweet red:
2007 Cabernet Franc Rose - light pink with strawberry fruit. Dry and crisp in the mouth. A good refreshing rose.
Pninim dessert Merlot - a frizzante (lightly sparkling) sweet Merlot - fruity and not overly sweet. Could go with fruit based desserts and the kids will like it.

Yatir didn't have their Viognier or the Shiraz (I think it's sold out). They had:
2007 Sauvignon Blanc - fresh cut grass on the nose with just a touch of oak. a good crisp SB.
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - the fruit was not very pronounced. Balanced with good body, but not exciting.
2005 Merlot - Shiraz - Cabernet. A good balanced red with structure and concentrated fruit.

Teperperg had their late harvest Riesling which is very good, as well as a light Cabernet - Merlot blend and the Terra Merlot which is a nice balanced red. By the time I got to their booth, It was getting late and my palate was in saturation.

My pick for the best red of the show is the Recanati reserve Syrah and the Dalton "wild yeast" Chardonnay for the white.

Josh
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by EY Han » Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:22 pm

Josh Patt wrote:2006 Yarden Viognier - lots of tropical fruits, lightly spicy with a bitter finish. Probably the best Viognier of the evening.
2003 Yarden Syrah - An intense mouth filling Syrah.
2004 Yarden Merlot - Oaky nose. Starts soft and fruity in the mouth, but the tannins build up quickly. Needs a bit more time in the bottle. This will probably be a very good wine in another year or two, but most of the people at the fair will not appreciate that.

Tabor had only there basic dry reds along with the rose and a sweet red:
2007 Cabernet Franc Rose - light pink with strawberry fruit. Dry and crisp in the mouth. A good refreshing rose.
Pninim dessert Merlot - a frizzante (lightly sparkling) sweet Merlot - fruity and not overly sweet. Could go with fruit based desserts and the kids will like it.

Yatir didn't have their Viognier or the Shiraz (I think it's sold out). They had:
2007 Sauvignon Blanc - fresh cut grass on the nose with just a touch of oak. a good crisp SB.
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - the fruit was not very pronounced. Balanced with good body, but not exciting.
2005 Merlot - Shiraz - Cabernet. A good balanced red with structure and concentrated fruit.

My pick for the best red of the show is the Recanati reserve Syrah and the Dalton "wild yeast" Chardonnay for the white.

Josh


Josh,

Seeing that the majority of the this year's crowd seemed to be even more fairly/completely new to wine compared to last year's, I thought my two guests - one from Ethiopia and another American who prefers sweet wines only - were fairly representative of the noses and palates of much of the attendees of the festival. They both thought that the GHW Merlot, 2004, although "strong" at the present, was the star of the show for red wines, and that the GHW Viognier, 2006, Tabor Pninim and Rosé, 2007 were also among the best of show.
I recently did a vertical tasting of the GHW Yarden Syrah from 2001–2003 and also including the Ortal Single Vineyard, 2004. I'm wondering if it is somewhat typical for the Yarden Syrah to lose its initial fruitiness overtime and gain more pepperiness and spiciness? My tasting of the 2003 vintage at the Jerusalem Festival seemed to show this…

Best wishes,
E.Y.
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Daniel Rogov » Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:49 pm

Eugene, Hi....

Many wines give up their often abundant and youthful fruitiness as they develop in the bottle, the fruits yielding comfortably over time to deeper, often more complex aromas and flavors of, for example, tobacco, chocolate, herbaceousness or spices. In the specific case of the Yarden Syrah, most assuredly true and one of the more positive aspects of the wines - drinkable from release and maturing nicely in the bottles.

Best
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Gary J » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:20 pm

I noticed that some of the wineries mentioned are boutique wineries that do not have a kosher certification. I think that it is great that these wineries are at the event - but it surprised me. I attended this event (I think it was this one) 2 years ago and there were none of the un-certified wineries present (if I'm remembering correctly).

Is having the uncertified wineries at the event a new thing? And how was this handled logistically? Were they all in the same area or were there separate areas? I can see some people drinking a wine they may have not wanted to drink.

Thanks to you all for your updates!
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Eli R » Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:13 pm

Gary J wrote:Is having the uncertified wineries at the event a new thing? And how was this handled logistically? Were they all in the same area or were there separate areas? I can see some people drinking a wine they may have not wanted to drink.


Hi,

Each Kosher booth had a poster visible on the table indicating this is a Kosher (K) winery.
I was present when a person wearing a "kipa" (yarmulke) inquired about the wines of a non kosher winery and was very elegantly told that:
" ... however this wine is not for you as we are not kosher".
I admit that I have been attending such events for only 2 or 3 years but had never noticed any separation.
The only exception was this year when a "kosher food and drink" festival was held following the thyme of the Tel-Aviv "Taam Haiir" (taste-of-the-city) food festival.

Eli
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Gary J » Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:37 pm

Very interesting. Got it, THANKS!
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Josh Patt » Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:32 pm

EY Han wrote:
Seeing that the majority of the this year's crowd seemed to be even more fairly/completely new to wine compared to last year's, I thought my two guests - one from Ethiopia and another American who prefers sweet wines only - were fairly representative of the noses and palates of much of the attendees of the festival. They both thought that the GHW Merlot, 2004, although "strong" at the present, was the star of the show for red wines, and that the GHW Viognier, 2006, Tabor Pninim and Rosé, 2007 were also among the best of show.
I recently did a vertical tasting of the GHW Yarden Syrah from 2001–2003 and also including the Ortal Single Vineyard, 2004. I'm wondering if it is somewhat typical for the Yarden Syrah to lose its initial fruitiness overtime and gain more pepperiness and spiciness? My tasting of the 2003 vintage at the Jerusalem Festival seemed to show this…

Best wishes,
E.Y.


Interesting that your freinds felt the Yarden Merlot was the star for red wines. There were plenty of reds that were more approachable at this point. Also, in recent years I've found Yarden's Merlot to be less interesting that their Cabernet or Syrah. Of course this is just MHO :)
I liked the Tabor Rose.
The Pninim has a certain charm, and I could see using it like a Moscato.

Best Wishes,
Josh
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Mike BG » Sat Jul 19, 2008 6:38 pm

Josh Patt wrote:Interesting that your freinds felt the Yarden Merlot was the star for red wines ... in recent years I've found Yarden's Merlot to be less interesting that their Cabernet or Syrah. Of course this is just MHO :)

Well, I used to feel like that, but I found the 2003 Yarden Merlot to be something different, and very enjoyable. I have not tasted the 2004 yet.
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Josh Patt » Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:01 pm

I have a bottle of Yarden 2003 Merlot in my cellar, so we shall see ... though I've tasted the 2003 Merlot in the past, and while it's nice, it doesn't compare to their 2003 Cabernet.

Josh
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Re: Jerusalem Wine Festival - First Impressions

by Eli R » Sat Jul 19, 2008 7:12 pm

IMHO Yarden Merlot 2003 is the answer to those who claim the conditions in Israel are not fit for great Merlot.
One of my favorites which I plan to follow to the year 2014 (at least)!

Daniel Rogov has put it using the best choise of words (as always):

Golan Heights Winery, Merlot, Yarden, 2003: Drinking beautifully now but with quite a future in front of it. Dark garnet, full-bodied, and with generous tannins but a well-polished wine showing a generous array of cherry, currant and berry fruits, those supported nicely by layers of Mediterranean herbs, vanilla and a gentle hand with smoky oak. On the long finish a tantalizing hint of green olives tip-toes in nicely. Drink now-2014. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 12 Feb 2008)

Golan Heights Winery, Merlot, Yarden, 2004: Dark garnet towards purple, medium to full-bodied, with tannins and wood integrating nicely and showing a generous array of berry, cassis and plum fruits, those supported by minerals, sweet cedarwood and, rising on the medium-long finish, an overlay of spices and tobacco. Drink now–2011, perhaps longer. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 12 Feb 2008)

So do not expect 2004 which is still at its infancy stage to show the same quality of the 2003.

Eli

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