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.