Hint taken..... Following is a re-posting in which I report on my last visit to Tzsuba winery. I shall also be attending another tasting of about to be released Tzuba wines this Thursday (24 July).
Yesterday (Tuesday, 17 Jun 2008) found me on my way to Kibbutz Tzuba there to visit and do a series of tastings at the Tzuba Winery. An interesting experience in several ways. First of all, the first releases from the 2005 vintages of the wines of Tzuba were good. Good but not exciting.
With the 2006 and 2007 vintages, however, the wines have taken a quantum leap forward and make this a winery well worth watching for future developments. My hypothesis is that this leap forward is due largely to the growing confidence of winemaker Paul Dubb and in that more reliance on his experiences as a vintner (experience in South Africa as well as in the vineyards of Tzuba – vineyards it should be noted that provide many of the grapes for Castel) and less reliance on the use of a consultant
At any rate, a good tasting and my thanks to Paul Dubb for his good company and courtesies during my visit (the espresso machine was broken, but I forgive them). After our tasting we shared brunch at the kibbutz' hotel, the Belmont Inn. A frankly lovely brunch taken on the terrace with a fine panoramic view of the Jerusalem Hills. Finally, a most pleasant place at which to eat (and worth considering an overnight stay) while traveling the wine route of Yo'av Yehuda.
The winery currently issues wines in three series: the top-of-the-line Hametzuda that will be produced only in selected years; Tel Tzuba of varietal and blended wines, and the popularly priced Hama’ayan. The winery also produces a red dessert wine. My tasting notes from the day follow.
Tzoba, Belmont White, Ma'ayan, 2007: A light gold, unoaked blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Semillon. Showing appealing pineapple and peach fruits, a fresh, round and lively wine that opens nicely on the palate. Drink now. Score 87. K
Tzuba, Chardonnay, Metzuda, 2007: Wisely oaked for only three and a half months, this medium-bodied, light gold wine shows a light green tint and opens to reveal generous summer and tropical fruits on a background of lively acidity. On the finish an appealing hit os green apples. Drink now-2009. Score 88. K
Tzuba, Belmont Red, Ma'ayan, 2006: A somewhat unusual blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Merlot, those develoed in new French barriques for 14 months. Medium-bodied, soft and round, opens with a generous red-fruit and flowery nose, goes on to show berries, red cherries, cassis and a hint of currants. Not overly complex but a very good quaffer and a fine accompaniment to food. Drink now-2009. Score 88. K
Tzuba, Sangiovese-Nebbiolo, 2006: A blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Nebbiolo, oak-aged for 14 months, showing medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely. Generous raspberry and cherry fruits on first attack open to show blueberries and notes of spices. Round, soft and complex although easy to drink. Drink now-2010. Score 89. K
Tzuba, Merlot, Tel Tzuba, 2006: Dark garnet with violet reflections, medium-bodied, with soft, gently mouth-coating tannins. Opens to reveal blackberry, currant and purple plum fruits, those supported nicely by hints of mint, licorice and, on the finish, a hint of bitter-sweet chocolate. Drink now-2010. Score 88. K
Tzuba, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tel Tzuba, 2006: Reflecting spices and near-sweet tannins from its 14 months in French oak, a medium- to full-bodied red with good concentration, soft tannins and a gentle wood influence. On the nose and palate starts off with blackcurrants and blackberries, those yielding to a pleasing red berry-cherry character and finally, on the long finish notes of Mediterranean herbs. Drink now-2011. Score 90. K
Tzuba, HaMetzuda, 2005: Showing better than at an advance tasting. A blend of 75% Merlot an 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, oak aged for 24 months. Medium-dark garnet, full-bodied, with near-sweet tannins now integrating nicely to show an appealing array of blackberry, cherry and herbal notes. A gentle spicy wood influence and a hint of licorice on the long finish add to the charms of the wine. Drink now-2010. Score 88. K (Re-tasted
Tzuba, Shiraz, Tel Tzuba, 2006 (Barrel Tasting): Tasted from components, with a bit of Grenache blended in. Dark royal purple, medium- to full-bodied, with fine concentration. Generous and broad, with still firm tannins needing time to settle in but already showing broad and generous, with cherry, blueberry and cassis aromas, spices and hints of saddle leather persisting nicely on the palate. Best 2009-2013. Tentative Score 89-91. K
Tzuba, HaMetzuda, 2006: Made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, a very dark deep purple wine, medium- to full-bodied, with generous soft tannins coming together with notes of spicy wood and opening to show currants and red and black berries. As the wine develops look as well for notes of espresso coffee and green olives. Promising to be long and generous. Best 2009-2012. Tentative Score 88-90. K
Tzuba, Merlot, Tel Tzuba, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Extraordinarily dark and concentrated yet simultaneously round and elegant. Generously aromatic, full-bodied, firmly tannic and intense but even at this early stage showing fine balance and structure. On the nose and palate juicy blueberry, raspberry and white pepper, all lingering nicely on a smooth, coffee scented finish. Drink from release-2012, perhaps longer. Tentative Score 89-91. K
Tzuba, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tel Tzuba, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Medium- to full-bodied, with softly caressing tannins. Dark garnet towards royal purple, opening with red berries, those yielding comfortably to currants and blueberries on a gently spicy background. Fruits and tannins rise on the finish. Best from release-2011. Tentative Score 87-89. K
Tzuba, Cabernet Franc, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Almost surely destined as a blending agent which might be somewhat of a shame as this delicious and traditional Cabernet Franc, one that might easily be thought came from Washington State. Full-bodied, smooth and velvety, with a floral nose and on the palate currants and blueberries. A generous and supple wine. If released as a varietal, drink from release-2013. Tentative Score 90-92. K
Tzuba, Pinot Noir, Tel Tzuba, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): As might be said "Pinot with a distinctly Burgundian flavor". Dark ruby in color, medium- to full-bodied, with generously caressing soft tannins. On first attack quite firm, but opens in the glass first to show floral, mineral and raspberry fruits and then to black cherries, green tea and notes of both Oriental spices and saddle leather. A multi-layered wine. Best from release-2012 or longer. Tentative Score 91-93. K
Tzuba, Malbec, Tel Tzuba, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Probably destined as a blending agent. Deep royal purple in color, showing dark purple, firmly tannic and muscular on opening attack but then blossoming to reveal black and red currants, figs, tar and licorice notes, all culminating in a long, almost creamy finish. Fresh, lively and complex. Best from release-2011. Tentative Score 89-91. K
Tzuba, Shiraz, Tel Tzuba, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Dark garnet towards royal purple, medium- to full-bodied, with generous but not overpowering spicy oak and vanilla, those parting to reveal raspberry, cherry and red plum fruits in fine harmony with spices and notes of leather. Potentially polished, long and well focused. Best 2009-2013. Tentative Score 90-92. K
Tzuba, Chardonnay Dessert Wine, n.v.: Intentionally harvested late, almost at the point where the grapes had raisined and then fortified to a 14.5% alcohol level. Generous sweetness balanced nicely by acidity makes this a lively wine, showing honeyed apricot and peach notes. Sweet and spicy but not at all syrupy, a comfortable and refined wine with a clear hint of Anjou pears coming in on the finish. Drink now-2010. Score 89. K
Tzuba, Red Dessert Wine, n.v.: Said to be in the style of Port wine but that, I suppose is open to discussion. At any rate, opening with spicy oak, figs and prunes an then going on to chocolate and licorice. Finishes a bit hot. Not everyone's cup of tea but many will appreciate it. Drink now. Score 88. K