Tanya Winery – an idyllic winery in the rolling hills of Binyamina’s Judean Hills

This is not the first time I had the opportunity to taste wines from the wonderful Tanya Winery. Actually, the first time we had the chance to taste Yoram Cohen’s wines (the winemaker) was in 2008, some five years ago. Since then, we did not have the chance to taste ant other wines from Tanya, as they were not available here in the US, until recently! Now, they are being imported by Red Garden Imports, an importer’s name that I heard many times from a few small boutique wineries as I walked around Sommelier! Actually we were supposed to go to the winery early in 2011, but Yoram’s kid got sick so we had to postpone the visit. Instead, we had to wait almost a year to get the chance to taste some Tanya wines, and it was a worthwhile wait, given the current crop of wines.

Many in Israel know Yoram not because of his unique personality or artistic passion, but rather because he was on Israel’s Big Brother 3! Yes, you heard me correct Yoram Cohen was on the Big Brother of Israel, but I guess he should stick to what he does exceptionally well, as he was the second housemate to be tossed out. I hope it helped to put focus on his personality and winery, because they are both quite unique and wonderful treasures that we get to enjoy!

In the middle of the first day for me at the 2011 edition of Sommelier, I got to the Tanya Winery booth! Just a few reminders about Tanya Winery, in case you are too lazy to click the link to my other posts :-). In 2002 Yoram started to make wine out of his house. In 2007 one of Chaim Feder’s friends tasted Yoram’s wines and was sure that Yoram was the next big thing in wine. Chaim and his partners met Yoram and the rest is history. They upgraded the winery’s future productivity by purchasing new equipment, plantings new vineyards, and leasing more space for the winery. The winery’s current production is about 30,000 bottles annually. Most wineries were displaying their wines from 2008 at the event, which by now you all know is a problem for many, being that it was a Shmitta year. In case this is your first roll through my blog, check out my Kosher 101 posting about Shmitta and more. Tanya however did not produce any wines in 2008, which all I can say is WOW! Takes a certain spirit and belief system to not make wine for a year! The winery has three labels; Enosh, Halel, and Eliya Reserve, all named after his kids, which are shown on the booth and on the website (though at a younger age). Enosh is the winery’s top Bordeaux blend, Halel is the main wine line, while Eliya is the lower label that has recently been upgraded, as is visible in the Shiraz below.

As I tasted these wines, I did not know that one of them was also part of my original wine tasting in 2008! The 2007 Pinot Noir, which we tasted from the barrel, has clearly changed with more red fruit showing and lovely oak extraction as well. However, the body and structure look the same from those many years earlier!

Tanya Winery is not one of those winery’s that buy their grapes or schlep them from the Galilee all the way down to the Judean Hills. Actually, the winery and its grapes are located in the heart of the Judean Hills, in and around the city called Ofra. The Winery’s vineyards are planted in the central area of the gentle slope of a mountain proximate to Ofra in chalky rocky ground at an elevation of 900 meters above sea level. The winery has 8 acres of vineyards that grow the following varietals; Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay.

As we were drinking through the wines there was one very distinct attribute of these wines that were almost quite shocking! Normally tannin makes for either a puckering experience, a gnarly experience, or a lovely mouth coating experience. This was none of the above! The tannins here were clearly mouth drying almost assailing the mouth with tannin that seemed to be trying to get your attention. I correctly guessed that this must be oak tannin, though I think it is also tied to the rich toast that Yoram must have used on these staves or a heavy char on the barrel itself.

It was a real joy to see Yoram and Chaim all over again. We had called Chaim in advance and he assured us that not only was he going to be there, but also Yoram and the wine mashgiach (kosher certification supervisor). It was a real joy to taste through the current crop of wines, though we did not get a chance to taste all the Eliya wines for 2009. Currently, the wines imported into the US are still of older vintages, but I am sure many of these will make their way to our shores soon.

Many thanks to Yoram, Chaim, and the mashgiach (missed his name) for making our tasting the joy it always is, the wine notes follow below in the order they were tasted.

2007 Tanya Halel Pinot Noir Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine exudes a rich and expressive nose with crushed herbs, raspberry, black cherry, nice plum, vanilla, crème de cocoa, and rich espresso coffee that makes you think you walked into a Starbuck shop. The mouth is rich and medium to full bodied with what can only be explained as crazy charred toast, rich and extracted oak tannin that literally dries your entire mouth, and almost takes the focus away from the lovely crushed herbs, cocoa, and raspberry. A sense of espresso, and charred meat arrives with mouth drying tannin continuing. More charred and spice rise on the finish with roasted meat and fresh ground espresso, raspberry, and black cherry.

2009 Tanya Halel Cabernet Franc Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine exudes a rich and expressive nose with raspberry, crushed herbs, rich floral notes, lovely green notes, charred oak, and plum. The mouth is rich and medium to full bodied with more crazy mouth drying tannin, rich charred oak, nice raspberry, more floral, along with espresso, and green notes that seem to heighten the experience. A sense of floral notes continues with more dry tannin, and charred oak. Espresso, charred oak, shows as floral notes and crushed herbs rise on the finish with a hint of chocolate cherry, and vanilla.

2010 Tanya Halel Blend Reserve (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Shiraz) – Score: B+ to A-
This wine put a smile on my face, as it is a wine that actually embodies the moniker on the label! The nose on the electric garnet wine continues with this new Tanya charred style, with toast, rich espresso, raspberry, plum, cassis, crushed herbs, cocoa, and pencil. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and mouth coating with espresso, raspberry, ripe plum, crushed herbs, cocoa, pencil, bone dry tannin that will settle down in a year or so, and some black fruit. The mid palate is balanced but the lack of concentration is what is missing. Cocoa, raspberry, crushed herbs, and cassis rise on the spicy finish that fades into a vanilla chocolate float with black cherry and pencil topping.

2009 Tanya Halel Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on the electric dark garnet colored wine is a rich and black wine with echoes of a French wine while deeply ensconced in a Mediterranean style. The nose on this electric purple colored wine evokes deep black cassis and blackberry, while balanced with raspberry, ripe plum, and chocolate, with a touch of pencil and mineral. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is mouth coating while also mouth drying with rich tannin, cassis, blackberry, ripe plum, balanced nicely with crushed herbs, and licorice. The wine is balanced nicely with more than the average acid, sweet oak all part of a spicy finish with chocolate, blackberry, cassis, in harmony with crushed herbs, mineral, licorice, and pencil shavings. A nice lively and rich black fruit Cabernet that may be a bit over the top in char but balanced nicely. This will show far better in a year or so.

2009 Tanya Halel Blend Reserve (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot) – Score: A-
The nose on this electric purple colored wine is redolent, rich, and ripe with blackberry, cassis, raspberry, ripe plum, cocoa, chocolate, crushed herbs, and sweet oak. The mouth on this rich, full bodied, and mouth coating wine is quite lovely and concentrated with rich plum, blackberry, raspberry, rich espresso, and crazy mouth coating tannin. The wine is balanced nicely with rich espresso, date, and chocolate. The finish is long and spicy with espresso, vanilla, raspberry, chocolate, nice crazy tannin, ripe plum, pencil shavings, and sweet oak. The mouth on this wine is lovely, concentrated, and rich with black fruit, espresso, and rich oak extraction, balanced with herbs, and pencil shavings.

2009 Tanya Eliya Shiraz Reserve – Score: A- close to A
The nose on this electric purple colored wine is super rich and true to its varietal, with rich black pepper, tar, blackcurrant, raspberry, espresso, roasted meat, rich and opulent sweet oak, ripe plum, spice, and crushed herbs. The mouth on this rich, ripe, and full bodied wine is so Syrah like, with concentration and layers that hit you wave after wave of ripe plum, blackcurrant, blackberry, rich spice, black pepper, all in front of a backdrop of rich oak, mouth coating tannin, and crushed herbs. The wine is nicely balanced with tar, sweet oak, oak extraction, more spice, and crushed herbs. The finish is long and extracted, with spice, sweet oak, rich tannin, roasted meat, blackberry, tar, and vanilla. This is a super rich and extracted Shiraz that is lovely with still mouth drying tannin that need to die down a bit.

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Posted on January 12, 2012, in Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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