Hevron Heights Winery: No longer a secret place!

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Hevron Heights Winery: No longer a secret place!

Postby Gabriel Geller » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:16 pm

Hello!

This morning fellow forumite Elchonon Hellinger aka Elk and myself visited HHW, in the industrial zone of Kiryat Arba, next to Chevron. We were welcomed by owner Michel Pinchas Murciano who showed us around and answered many questions I've long been asking myself (some were off the record so naturally will not be posted here) and it was quite a lovely experience but because Michel was on a tight schedule we were able to taste only a few wines from the barrels as well as their yet-to-be-released 2007 ice wine-style wine of which 30K bottles were made.

It is quite a big and modern facility with state-of-the-art equipment, given that the winery produces half a million bottles across its many different brands and labels. They have 3-4 barrel rooms totaling approx. 700 :!: barrels in total, mostly french oak, some american and hungarian as well. The oldest barrel I came across was stamped as having been made in 2007.

We tasted the CabSav, Syrah and Merlot for the 2011 Armageddon, the winery's flagship wine, all made in new medium-toasted french oak barrels. We also watched the staff hand-labeling bottles of Armageddon 2007. I didn't take notes for the barrel components but the wines were quite promising and of high quality as far as I could tell.

Michel told me that he is not making the wine. Until recently and at least since the 2006 vintage, another french winemaker, François Raynal (he became famous as having established a winery in Myanmar) makes their wines, following Jacques Humeau who has worked with the winery for its first 4 vintages (2002-2005).

Elk and myself will soon taste the Armageddon 2007 and report back.

Following is my tasting note for the ice wine:

HHW, Ice-wine style (no label-no name yet) 2007: A blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Muscadelle late harvested and artificially frozen at the winery, aged 36 months in (my guess: hungarian) oak barrels. Deep golden yellow with on the nose candied orange rind, marzipan, caramelized almonds and dried apricots. Full-bodied, rich and complex with on the palate ripe yellow plums, dried apricots, figs, orange marmelade and crème brûlée, a bit funkiness à la botrytis that is probably due to the (supposedly) hungarian oak, very long honeyed finish with very nice hints of eucalyptus. The acidity is a bit low, but it's there.

After a, eeerr... short (ahem...) break at Elk's place in Kiryat Arba we then finally headed to Gat Shomron winery, located in beautiful Karnei Shomron with breathtaking views and were welcomed there by winemakers and manager Avigdor Sharon and Lior Nachum for an extensive tasting of their different labels. I will soon post TNs for this visit as well.

Best,

GG
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Re: Hevron Heights Winery: No longer a secret place!

Postby Adam M » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:49 pm

Glad you liked the wines and rightly belief that the winery deserves the respect that it hasn't generally rec'd thus far. I can tell you that, in the US, the Isaac's Ram sells out just about as fast as it comes in. So there is definitely a swelling following that appreciates the good value and excellent quality that their cab offers.
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Re: Hevron Heights Winery: No longer a secret place!

Postby Elchonon Hellinger » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:43 am

The building is old, maybe 100-200 years old, thick stone walls, inside is all modern like, the cellar and bottle roons are insulated and temp controlled, there are a ton of barrel rooms! and then he lets the bottles cellar too!! in another warehouse they have tens of thousands of bottles cellaring. sick picture by our friend and companion tzemach http://instagram.com/p/VpL9wdRJs_/

they phased out their plonk d'plonk ande have the new 14$ bottle he says is a good QPR.

Gab would know the status of padres or was it replaced with elon mamre ? lots of machpela 09, reserve hebron heights, elon mamre, lotsa magnum's, armagadon.. did not see isaacs ram bottles there but may be sitting in cellar bottling
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Re: Hevron Heights Winery: No longer a secret place!

Postby Yossie Horwitz » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:31 am

Did they give you guys a rundown / explanation of their labels, series, etc?
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Re: Hevron Heights Winery: No longer a secret place!

Postby Craig Winchell » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:40 am

In the old days, it was standard practice to let cases sit in the warehouse for a year, or even more, prior to selling. Somewhere in the late 1980s, early 1990s, the protocols of the average winery changed due to market conditions. There was renewed interest in wine and greater per-capita consumption. Wineries discovered that people were less inclined to wait for the new vintages of sold-out wines, having less brand-loyalty, and endeavored to maintain whatever loyalty there was by minimizing delays. At the same time,shifts in demographics from those with cellars to those without made it reasonable to tailor wines for early drinking rather than extended cellaring before optimal palatability, as wineries shifted to selling to consumers almost direct from the bottling operation. What you see here with their bottle cellaring used to be standard practice, but now would be considered an impediment to profit.

I would also say that in its early years, the stylistic approach of Hevron Heights clearly required extended bottle aging to even hope to have a relationship with consumers. I remember tasting in the '90s or early 2000s, perhaps, and writing about it on Stratsplace, and arguing with Rogov over the relative quality. The wine was being released far too early for consumer adoration, as reflected by his view of the wines produced there.
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Re: Hevron Heights Winery: No longer a secret place!

Postby Elchonon Hellinger » Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:29 pm

Yossie Horwitz wrote:Did they give you guys a rundown / explanation of their labels, series, etc?


I asked many questions, we all did really.. as HHW is one of those winery's you never "get" my hearing implant battery's died again like at KWFE (turns out i bought the wrong ones) when im deaf im clueless which is fun if you dont want ppl bothering you lol

I asked why gedeon and he says it sells and theres a demand for it, but he did say they dropped the plionk d'plonk i forget if thats jerusalem hills? and replaced that line with the 14$ priced mid level

What direction they are taking gab can answer, but if any one thinks they are "dead" think again.. possibaly he needs to work more to provide to the US market the availability. And yes the bottle aging is there..I have my ice wine and i'll bring it to ny and let you folks fight over it ;)
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Re: Hevron Heights Winery: No longer a secret place!

Postby Gabriel Geller » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:53 pm

Given the fact that Lewis Pasco is now their new consulting winemaker we shall see lots of improvement in both quality and consistency over the next coming years. The barrel components for the 2011 Armagedon showed so much promising that it would be a shame to screw it up. Anyway, here is my TN for the 2007 Armagedon:

HHW, Armagedon 2007: The winery's flagship wine a Bordeaux-Plus blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Syrah aged 24 months in new French oak barrels. Dark cherry red, the nose features scents of ripe blackberries, cherries, green olives and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, layered and muscular with on the palate super intense and highly extracted fruit, ripe with no overripe notes to be found with blackberries, cherries and redcurrants, purple plums, licorice, roasted herbs, espresso and olives again with bracing acid providing a fantastic backbone together with the rising, mouth-drying tannins on the seemingly endless backer's chocolate-infused finish. WOW. Throwing quite a pretty big deal of sediments. I can't help it but always be very suspicious with HHW's wines and this one did not disappoint. A rock star of a wine but not for the random amateur, this one is a beast.

Best,

GG
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