OK so Elchonon provided enough details about yesterday's Shomron trip so I'll just copy-paste my TNs. Many of the wines we tasted yesterday had some sort of a port-like nose indicating some oxidation. Weird, these were all bottles opened in front of us pulled out from the wineries' cellars.
A few stood out though.
Tura, Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: 22 months in french oak barrels. Garnet with on the nose butterscotch, cassis, cheery liquor. Medium-bodied with on the palate blackcurrants, sour red cherries with some hot chili pepper on an average finish.
Tura, Merlot 2008: Also spent 22 months in french oak barrels. Garnet and caramel-ish at the edges with on the nose creme de cassis liquor, raspberries and toasted oak. Medium to full-bodied, black and raspberries and some spicy chocolate on the long finish. Much better-balanced than the Cabernet Sauvignon, nice.
Tura, Portura 2009: Big surprise here. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 32 months in used oak barrels and incomparably better than the 2007 vintage. Lighter garnet in color than the previous dry wines with on the nose sweet oak, figs and dried prunes. Full-bodied with lots of prunes, figs and dates as well as caramelized nuts and fermented cherries, spicy-sweet oak and dried figs and apricots lingering on the very long finish. I don't easily like dessert wines and red so-called port-style wines in particular and this one was very tasty.
Tura, Mountain Rose 2011: Another interesting yet very different dessert wine also made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Garnet with on the nose ripe fresh grapefruit, pomegranate and tangerines followed on the light to medium-bodied palate by cherries, tangerines, candied lemon peels and cranberry juice on a rather short finish. A nice summer afternoon sweet wine, reminded of some sangria or the pomegranate martini I used to drink at hotel bars in LA.
Tura, Chardonnay 2010: Light gold in color with on the nose apples, citrus, mirabelles plums, light oak considering the 9 months in new french oak. Medium-bodied with some apples and pears, sweet oak and a hint of tannins on a rather short finish. Lacking fruit and acidity IMHO.
Har Bracha, Cabernet Sauvignon Highlander 2009: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, 14 months in french oak barrels. Dark garnet, oaky nose slightly oxidized, sour cherries and cinnamon. Medium to full-bodied with ripe blackberries, cherries, sweet oak and cinnamon and vanilla with somewhat chunky tannins on the average finish. Good acidity but not well-balanced enough with the oak and the tannins that lack focus.
Har Bracha, Merlot Highlander 2009: Garnet with purple reflections with on the nose cherries and almost jammy raspberries as well as milk chocolate. Full-bodied with raspberry jam, cherries and plums, sweet cedar wood and milk chocolate with mouth-coating tannins on the long finish. Throwing sediments. Nice and good balance.
"Vat tasting": Har Bracha Petite Sirah 2011: Flushed out with about 5% Petit Verdot aged now for 12 months with oak chips in stainless steel vats. Beautiful clean garnet wrapped in a royal purple robe with violets, blueberries and raspberries with a gentle note of sweet vanilla. Medium-bodied with raspberries, blueberries, plums with bracing acidity, spicy-sweet vanilla and searing tannins on a moderately long finish. Nice future entry-level wine.
Barrel tasting Har Bracha Port-style wine 2011: A blend of about 50% Petite Sirah and 50% Petit Verdot aged for now 6 months in french oak (probably used, didn't ask) barrel, tasting surprisingly ready for such a young so-called port-style wine. Dark purple towards garnet, beautiful rich nose of raspberry fruit paste, dried prunes, blackberry jam. Full-bodied with sweet yet not too cloying raspberry and bramble jam, dried prunes, milk chocolate, candied pecan nuts, raisins, candied cherries, candied ginger and creamy vanilla with some nice tannins on a seemingly endless finish. SINFUL, I LOVED IT.
The winery's winner IMHO, significantly superior than the very good Portura.
Psagot, Rosé 2011: Intense pink in color with orange reflections with on the nose ripe strawberries and lemon zest. Light to medium-bodied with overripe strawberries and some citrus notes, sweet and bitter with an almost nonexistent finsih. Lacking acidity and fruit.
Psagot, Merlot 2010: Dark garnet towards purple, with on the nose ripe black and red fruit and a note of vanilla. Medium to full-bodied with on the palate ripe raspberries, blackberries, plums with notes of Mediterranean herbs and vanilla, good tannins rising on the long finish. Polished and well-crafted but not as good as the 2008 vintage.
Psagot, Edom 10: Similar to my previous tasting, keep improving but not yet fully ready. Will probably not be as good as the 2009 vintage.
Psagot, Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: Dark purple with dark fruit and a hint of wet forest dirt. Almost full-bodied with on the palate blackcurrants, blackberries and some stony minerals on the mid-palate followed by notes of chocolate covered cherries and kirsch on the long finish. Very nice.
Psagot, Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: Aside from the beautiful almost impenetrable dark garnet and purple color I couldn't honestly take any notes here as the bottle had been opened for at least a day and it had clear strong notes of oxidation.
Unfortunately we got there very late and they were already kind enough to host us well past the visitors center opening hours with more wine and cheese than one may wish for so I didn't push too much to have another bottle.
Psagot, Late Harvest Viognier 2011: So they stopped making the dry Viognier and are now making a dessert wine instead. I was excited when the bottle was brought to us having in mind the amazing icewine-style Gat Shomron Viognier. Well, Gat Shomron's Lior Nachum and Avigdor Sharon have no reason to worry. Golden straw in color with on the nose sweet melon, apricots and honeysuckle followed on the very slightly fizzy palate by sweet melon, yellow plums and creamy vanilla with some unpleasant bitterness on the finish.
Didn't take notes of the barrel samplers of Ivri Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but they both ha a somewhat oxidized nose yet the Merlot was significantly better than the CabSav.
Tanya, Halel, Cabernet Franc 2009: Dark garnet with on the nose raspberies, plums, fresh tobacco leaves, roasted coffee beans, green bell pepper and dark chocolate. Medium to full-bodied with on the palate raspberries, bell pepper, red plums, licorice, cracked black pepper and dark chocolate covered coffee beans with nice mellow tannins on the long finish. Beautiful, definitely one of the better Cab Francs out there.
Tanya, Halel, Pinot Noir 2007: Dark ruby with on the nose wet forest floor, plums, red currants, coffee and sour cherries. The palate was very hard to figure out with harsh, overwhelming oaky tannins blowing up from the first attack towards the finish with the fruit struggling to make itself felt. What harm did I do to that wine?!
A glass of water was very much needed at this point. Bummer. Sorry Dave but we're not on the same page here except for the tannins.
Tanya, Halel, Blend 2009: A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark royal purple with on the nose concentrated black and red fruit, plums and cigar box. Full-bodied with ripe blackberries, plums, raspberries, Mediterranean herbs, vanilla, sweet cedarwood and bittersweet chocolate with mouth-coating tannins on the long finish.
Overall it was a great day and I was more than pleased to visit these wineries (1st time for Har Bracha) and taste these wines with Elchonon and his friends. One of them who was also very kind to be our careful driver (spitted cautiously all the wine he tasted) was very appreciative and knowledgeable and I wish we had more time to visit more wineries. Many thanks to Nir Lavie (Har Bracha), Vered Ben Saadon (Tura), Keren, Liora as well as Josh Hexter and Yaakov Berg of course (Psagot) as well as Yoram Cohen and Yehoyada (Tanya, unfortunately Yoram was off the premises but did everything to arrange a great tasting for us). Looking forward to the next time (perhaps even tomorrow, otherwise next sunday).