Last Sunday, David Raccah and myself were hosted by Simcha and Pierre Miodownick at their lovely house in Mitzpe Netofa, Lower Galilee, there to taste the latest releases and to be-released wines of Pierre's Netofa winery as well as some of the wines he made in Europe. Just as a reminder, for close to 30 years and to this day, Pierre is and has been also the winemaker for most of the French, Spanish and Portuguese wines produced, exported and distributed by Royal Wine Corp.-Kedem (Pontet-Canet, Porto Cordovero, Léoville Poyferré, Ramon Cardova etc).
As that night, 5 Shvat, was also the jahrzeit of Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter, the Ba'al HaSfat Emet, we dedicated to his memory and for the elevation of his soul the tasting and the great meal that followed cooked by Simcha, Pierre's wife, that constituted of a delicious Boeuf Bourguignon and an amazing tarte aux poires (pear pie).
We first tasted the new Netofa wines of the 2012 and 2013 vintages:
Domaine Netofa, White 2013: Made as always with 100% Chenin Blanc, unoaked. Light gold in color with on the nose fresh citrus fruit, pears and pineapple. Medium-bodied with on the palate ripe pears, tart yellow grapefruit and a hint of pineapple reminiscent of the nose with a touch of heat that blows off with air and good acidity that rises on the average finish.
Netofa, Latour White 2012: Also made of 100% Chenin Blanc with a percentage of the wine that was aged in french oak barrels for a few months. Bright straw/gold with on the nose fresh white flowers, ripe citrus fruit and quince. Medium-bodied with a slight viscosity on the palate from the oak along notes of lemon fraiche, quince, stoney minerals, nice and well balanced acidity, kiwi and sweet herbs with a hint of tannins on the long finish.
Domaine Netofa, Rosé 2013: Light orange-pink in color made of 55% Syrah and 45% Mourvèdre. Light in body with on the nose and palate fresh strawberries, tart cherries, watermelon and rose petals with bracing acidity keeping the wine lively, refreshing and even complex to some extent, well-balanced.
Domaine Netofa, Rouge 2012: A blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Mourvèdre, aged 6 months in french oak barrels. Dark purple with on the nose black plums, violets, raw meat and freshly cracked pepper. Medium-bodied with on the palate black plums and cherries with floral notes of violets and spices, morels mushrooms and black pepper, a touch of loamy dirt and with nice acidity and tannins that linger with more earthy notes and black fruit on the long finish. IMHO, this is by far the best wine Netofa has ever released in its entry level series.
Netofa, Latour Rouge 2012: As always, also a blend of mostly Syrah blended with a significant (exact percentage missing in my notes) amount of Mourvèdre that spent about 12-14 months in french oak barrels. After lots of swirling in the glass the nose slowly opens up. Dark royal purple with on the nose black pepper, roasted meat, blackberries and plums with a touch of freshly brewed coffee and smoke. Full-bodied the palate features blackberries, plums and spices with notes of wet forest floor, truffles and roasted coffee beans with bracing acidity and searing tannins that dry the mouth and seem far from integrating on the long finish. This will be quite an interesting wine to revisit in 1-2 years.
Netofa, Latour Rouge 2011: Only a bit more approachable than the 2012 but still showing more expressive than the first time I had it at the winery's event last July. Dark garnet towards purple with on the nose violets, charcoal, blackberries, plums and black pepper. Medium to full-bodied with on the palate spicy black cherries, crème de cassis, smoked meat and ripe plums with minerals, more blackberries and notes of earth with biting acid and mouth-coating tannins on the long finish. Still needs a good 9-12 months to become truly approachable.
Netofa, Tinto 2012: This was always a favorite of mine with the 2011 being my favorite so far. A blend of Touriga Nacional and Tempranillo (aka Tinta Roriz) aged 10 months in french oak barrels. Dark ruby in color with a light purple hue, on the nose red and black fruit with a hint of peach as well as pipe tobacco and spices. Medium to full-bodied with on the palate blackberries, tart cherries, licorice, a touch of peaches and apricots with tobacco, bracing acid, coffee and oriental spices with intense tannins lingering on the long and juicy finish. Delicious wine, this one is the better structured so far of the 3 vintages (2010-2012).
After the tasting of the full Netofa line up and before moving on to the delicious meal, Pierre brought over o the table the 2 surprises he had especially picked up for us. I almost fell off my chair when I saw the first bottle, one of the last 3 or 4 left of his stash.
Les Forges, Côtes de Beaune, Meursault 1987: A 26 year-old kosher Chardonnay from one of the most prestigious appellations of Bourgogne! A wine that Pierre made under his own M&G venture before it was taken over by Royal Wine shortly after. I was really concerned that the wine would be DOA but Pierre assured us that he opened and tasted it beforehand to make sure it was alive and in proper drinking conditions.
The color was an intense, shining gold with slightly green-ish reflections. On the nose beautiful floral notes of acacias, honeysuckle, asian pears and fresh, honeyed wild yellow plums (mirabelles) with a touch minerals. Medium to full-bodied and with a captivating texture combining roundness and oily viscosity from the oak, the palate features more sweet and fleshy mirabelles as well as juicy pears, gingerbread and almonds with hints of stoney minerals and notes of tarte tatin apple pie with still lively acidity supporting the wine through the long, round and elegant finish. That acidity kept things interesting and allowed the wine to remain fascinating throughout the meal, truly a fantastic experience and I can't thank Pierre enough for sharing that amazing bottle with us.
I believe that one has to taste as many wines as possible from different winemaking styles, growing regions etc to educate his/her palate. Each different wine is a lesson on its own but for me, this Meursault was worth 20 of those lessons (at least
Château Moulin Riche, Saint-Julien 2011: Moulin Riche is the sister property of Château Léoville Poyferré and the two estates are adjacent to each other. While it is often viewed as such, it isn't officially the second wine of Léoville Poyferré (that would be Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré). This wine is based on 58% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 37% Merlot and flushed out with 5% Petit Verdot. The wine is a dark purple with a garnet hue. On the nose blackberries, cassis, plums and spices as well as distinct note of barnyard funk and a charming touch of brett. Full-bodied, dense and well-extracted with on the palate lots of warm blackberries, cassis and a touch of ripe raspberries on first attack followed by black olives, graphite and loamy dirt with a pleasant note of bittersweet licorice and roasted herbs with bracing acidity and searing, powdery tannins along with baker's chocolate that lingers long on the polished and elegant finish. Great wine that has quite a good 8-10 years to go. 13.5% Abv.
What can I say, it was a lovely and memorable evening with great company, food and wine.