Teperberg Winery Tasting – just outside of snowed in Jerusalem

Teperberg Tasting with all the wines and Fricassee a person can dream for!As I have stated before, these postings are from my previous trip to Israel, where Jerusalem and mush of the north was snowed in with many feet of snow. Picking up from where we left off, the Sabbath was snowed in and cold, but at least we had power. The next day, my brother drove the car to the hotel and from there – the careful but madman driver – known as Mendel made his way to both GG and me and using Waze we were off to highway 1. The road itself was open, as was clear by the crowd sourcing cars driving up and down the road on the Waze map. However, there were parts of the road that were packed to the gills, because these were car drivers – driving to har menuchot (Jerusalem’s cemetery which has a massive parking lot) to pick up their abandoned cars! Yup, on Friday, these folks could not make it into Jerusalem, as their car was stuck, and they could not get back to where they came from, so they left their cars and were bussed out by the Army using mechanized solider transport vehicles, that can drive through snow or up a hill, for that matter.

Well, as we drove by that horde of cars, our minds were all single focused on getting to Teperberg Winery, one of the best unheralded wineries in Israel. As I wrote about in previous posts, here and here, ever since the U.C. Davis trained senior winemaker Shiki Rauchberger joined the winery, they have been producing wines destined to appeal to a more sophisticated audience. With the addition of Olivier Fratty and tons of new high-end equipment, the winery is poised to make the next leap into the upper echelon of Israeli kosher wine producers.

When we arrived after driving through the snow covered mountains, the roads cleared as we dropped in elevations, and the mountains became hills, and their color turned from white to green. Not too far down the highway, we turned off for the road leading to Bet Shemesh, and from there another turn and we quickly found out way to Kibbutz Tzora (where the Tzora Winery can be found), which is across the street from the Teperberg Winery, and down the street from Mony Winery.

We arrived almost on time, and Shiki and Olivier were there to greet us and lead us to a room where we would be having the tasting. Shiki told us that they are drawing up plans for a visitor’s center where they can have official tastings, and exhibits where the winemakers and the guests can interact in a more intimate environment. The exact date for this building to be completed is still unknown, as it has yet to even start, but it is on the books to be started soon.

2009 was a great year for Teperberg, while 2010 was an average year for the winery, which is shown in the scores. However, 2011 and 2012 are both showing to be very solid years for the winery, overall. The tasting started with their entry-level wine for the US and Israeli markets, the 2012 Meritage, a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot. It happens to be that these very varietals are being used into single varietal wines in the reserve series that it helping to push Teperberg to the next level, in terms of quality. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were fantastic, while the 2011 are the best so far. The Cabernet Franc, single varietal is a new wine for the reserve series starting in 2010, and the Petite Verdot, is a new single varietal wine for the reserve series starting in 2011. Both are very nice, but the 2011 vintage for all the reserve series wines shine brightest.

Of course the Malbec continues to be the most accessible, enjoyable, and best priced wine out there for the price (high QPR winner), especially the 2011 vintage, which may well be the best kosher Malbec out there. After the Meritage, we rolled into the a fore mentioned Malbec wines, which makes sense, because as lovely as they are, they lack the richness and complexity that the Shomron Merlot and Galilee Cabernet have. The fact is that the vast majority of the wines from Teperberg come from the Samarian/Shomron wine region, which in many ways are a blessing and a curse. The Shomron is perfectly situated for growing cooler climate varietals, like Merlot, Chardonnay, and Petite Verdot, the Malbec is sourced from the Judean Hills where the temperature is slightly higher, while the Cabernet, for the reserve series is sourced from BOTH the Shomron and the Galilee regions. The Galilee wine region has the higher heat and cooler evenings to make the Cabernet vines happy at day and night. The Shomron has great acidity, but lacks the depth of potential, as the vines sometimes do not get to their phenolic happy state, without the higher heat.

The ability to blend or gather or harvest the grapes when they want allows for Teperberg to make a wide range of wines, from their lower end wines, all the way to the Terra and Reserve wines, with the finesse and control that is really magical. I must stress, that while Israel had a few bad years in 2009, 2010, and 2011, Teperberg really only had a bump in the road during 2010, and only a small one. Many other wineries, created overly ripe and sweet new world style wines, because of the lack of control on their vines and other circumstances that did not allow them access to the vines when they needed attention most.

This is a pair of issues that Israel is struggling with now. The three years of vintages will make for tough times for Israeli wine, overall. However, the real issue lies in the style of wine that is being produced in these regions. In some regions, the 2010 and 2011 vintages were both hot and cold and made for some very underwhelming wines and under ripe wines. The dichotomy of how the 2010 and 2011 years treated different wines regions is truly amazing. The wines in the Judean Hills and Shomron were unaffected by 2009, but the wines in the Galilee, were super ripened. The 2010 season in the Galilee was poor as was the wines in the Judean Hills, for the most part. The 2011 vintage is still up in the air, parts of the Judean Hills and Shomron are showing well, while the Galilee did less impressively, but time will tell for sure. The 2012 vintage seems to be a boon and a return to the amazing wines of the Galilee wine region, as well as the rest of the wine regions overall.

The amazing fact is that even with the size and bottle count of Teperberg, at four million bottles, the winery has not bent to the sweet tooth of the new wine drinking generation in Israel. I may harp on this subject a fair amount, and to many of the wine drinking populace, in the kosher market, no one cares. However, I write this blog to teach and to remind me what and where I was when tasting wines, so I guess it matters! Shiki may well be UC Davis trained, but that does not mean he craves over ripe Napa Cab wines in Israel. Actually, he is far Older World in his styling and Olivier is as well, which bodes well for us true wine lovers.

The next wines were the new single varietal Cabernet Franc. Starting in 2010, the reserve line will now have a varietally true Cabernet Franc! So, all you Franc lovers, add this wine to your must have wines, especially in 2011. It was hilarious when they opened the new wines, and I said I loved the new label, as my compadre(s), were not of the same mind! I liked the modern art label that is an ode to the Modern Art School or Israel that took on the project to make a label for the new wine – I thought it looks lovely. They were not sure if the label would continue with the 2011 Cabernet Franc, but the wine is so wonderful, and one of the better Franc’s I have tasted in sometime, that it is really going to be a wine that needs to be on your short list for the best wine of the year – especially in the Franc category.

From there we moved to Merlot and then Cabernet Franc, and then the Petite Verdot, which is another new varietally true wine for the reserve series, and the yet unreleased, Super Reserve wine from the 2009 vintage. We have spoken about that wine here, when Shiki poured it at the Gotham Wine event.

I must say that the Petite Verdot was shockingly good and so true to its varietal that I really look forward to getting some when it is released. The 2011 vintage and the 2012 vintage, which we tasted from barrel, are both showing extremely well for the entire reserve line. The 2010 wines were nice, with the 2010 Cabernet showing the best, along with the Franc. The Merlot was a bit short, but it may come around, a thing I am happy to admit, that I was wrong about the 2009 wines when I had them at Gotham event. at times the Teperberg wines come across closed or short, or missing in the middle, but they fill in over time, as they come together in the bottle. That said, at this point the Merlot is a step behind the Cab and Franc.

The Super Reserve wine from 2009 continues to impress, but a wine that is not yet ready according to Shiki. It needs time to come together some more and allow it to be enjoyable at release and for years to come.

My many thanks to Shiki and Olivier! Of course, thanks to Olivier, we could not leave before enjoying some lovely and fantastic Fricasse! These came from a shop in Jerusalem, that Olivier convinced to make us the box of sandwiches! It was so very kind of Olivier, Shiki, and the winery to host us, feed us, and let us taste these wonderful wines. My notes follow below!

2012 Teperberg Meritage – Score: B++ to A-
The 2012 vintage continues to impress with great wines for normally baseline wines. The Meritage is normally a B+ or so wine and this vintage is a bit better with ripe and more concentrated fruit. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot. The nose starts with ripe blueberry, nice roasted meat, ripe red fruit, crushed herb, and rich aromas. The mouth on this full bodied wine is easily accessible with soft caressing tannin, nice ripe fruit, very good acid, all wrapped up in a supple body with good fruit structure, mellow tannin, and nice tannin. The finish is long and ripe, with nice blue/black/red fruit, spice, and pith lingering long. The soft body is ready now, but will improve a bit and coalesce within the year and drink well for the next two to three years.

2012 Teperberg Malbec, Terra – Score: A-
The 2011 Malbec was off the charts and this one is as good with better acid and riper fruit. The nose on this wine starts off with lovely blueberry, cassis, watermelon, licorice, tar, red fruit, and ribbons of roasted meat. The mouth on this lovely full bodied wine is controlled with nice fruit structure, balanced well with insane mouth coating tannin and rich acid, blackberry, black plum, cherry, and nice spicy oak. The finish is long, spicy, and rich with nice vanilla, ripe black and blue fruit, tobacco, and mouth coating tannin that lingers long – BRAVO!

2010 Teperberg Merlot, Reserve – Score: B+ to A (most probably more in the future)
The 2010 vintage continues to push the envelope with blue notes, ripe red fruit, and good structure. The Merlot fruit for this wine was sourced from Shiloh. The nose on this wine shows lovely blueberry, ripe blackberry, spice and red fruit. The mouth on this elegant medium bodied wine, shows red and black fruit, nice fruit structure, all coming together with a nice round mouth, integrated tannin, concentrated fruit, cherry, currant, and spice. The finish is medium long with chocolate, toast, spice, nutmeg, clove, pith, and mouth coating tannins that linger long and nicely. As always, with Teperberg reserve wines – they need time. This wine is still a bit young and I hope to revisit this wine in the coming year to decide its true score. For now, the shorter finish is what is driving the score down, but I have been wrong in the past with these wines. I was wrong about the 2009 Merlot reserve wine and I del given the structure and body that this wine may well come together in the coming year and then we can asses its true score.

2011 Teperberg Merlot, Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this black colored wine is lovely with deep red and black fruit aromas along with sweet herb and green fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine hits you with layers of concentrated fruit, blackberry, cassis, black plum, cloves, along with a fantastic fruit structure that is built to last, mouth coating tannin, and spice. The finish is long and spicy with lovely green notes, bell pepper, chocolate, tobacco, with tannin, spice, and tobacco lingering long BRAVO!

2012 Teperberg Merlot, Reserve (barrel tasting) – Score: N/A
This wine is clearly a beast, with unique aromas for a Merlot, I did not score this wine as it is sure to change more and scoring with ranges is not my thing. The nose starts off with blueberry, roasted animal, dark fruit, cherry, and spice. The mouth on this full bodied wine is a beast, with rich mouth coating and searing tannin, great structure, concentrated fruit, and lovely oak influence. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, black fruit, chocolate, and some sweet notes.

2010 Teperberg Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this lovely wine is dark and black, with blackberry, cassis, dark cherry, along with nice crushed herb, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich with heavy tannin and clearly a step back from the 2009 and 2011 vintages, but still a nice wine for the year, along with rich heavy tannin, and layers of black fruit, raspberry, and nice mouth coating tannin. The finish is long and spicy with lovely spice, chocolate, vanilla, cloves, and lovely tobacco.

2011 Teperberg Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve – Score: A- (and more) (QPR Star)
The nose on this wine is intoxicating and rich with ripe and fresh fruit, with black and red fruit, cherry, bell pepper, spice, and blackberry. The mouth on this full bodied wine is super rich and layered with concentrated fruit, black fruit, black plum, searing tannin, along with crazy sweet oak, that lingers long with still not integrated tannin. The finish is long with great balancing acid, spicy notes, along with ribbons of blueberry, leafy tobacco, chocolate, spice, cloves, and black/red fruit lingering long. Bravo this is a fantastic wine that is beyond a fantastic QPR wine.

2010 Teperberg Cabernet Franc, Limited Edition – Score: B++ to A-
The wine is graced by a modern art painting that was made by a school of modern art in Israel, and though I liked the art work, the wine was a step back as much of 2010 was for Teperberg. The nose on this wine is graced with lovely green notes, cherry, raspberry, black plum, cranberry, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine nice integrating mouth coating tannin, along with nice red fruit, spice, and oak that supports and caresses the tannins. The finish is long and spicy with bell pepper, nice fruit, slight sweetness, chocolate, and tobacco.

2011 Teperberg Cabernet Franc, Reserve – Score: A- (and more) (Great QPR)
This is the first year that Teperberg released a reserve Cabernet Franc, and it is a lovely wine that deserves the reserve tag and one that bodes well for a great year by Teperberg, overall. The nose on this wine is beautiful and perfumed with rich red fruit, sweet rounding oak, green notes, and bell pepper. The mouth on this lovely full bodied wine is rich, complex, and layered with ripe, concentrated fruit, raspberry, blackberry, along with nice mouth coating and round tannin, with spice, and tobacco. The finish is long and spicy, with crazy spice, still searing tannin, leather, tobacco, cloves, almond pith, and lovely ripe green notes that linger long. BRAVO what a lovely, complex, rich, and layered wine!

2011 Teperberg Petite Verdot – Score: A-
This is Teperberg’s first varietal release of Petite Verdot, a classic blending grape that is getting more and more attention for it potential as a varietal wine. The wine elicits thoughts of a large chunk of meat being roasted over fresh sweet oak, along with ripe black and red fruit. The mouth on this richly concentrated full bodied wine, is not overly complex and layered, but has lovely control, along with enough black and red fruit to grab your attention. The wine shows nice blackberry, cassis, and raspberry, along with freshly crushed herb, spice, and tannin that coats and lingers long. The finish is long and balanced with nice acid, lovely mineral, slate, floral notes, along with tobacco, and spice. A very nice first effort and hopefully this will lead to more of these fun and lovely wines.

2009 Teperberg Super Reserve – Score: A- (plus more)
This is Teperberg’s first (with more to come) super blends when they find fruit that truly grabs them. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Verdot. This is the third time I have had the chance to taste this wine, and while Teperberg is still not ready to release the wine, the elixir is getting close to its release date. The nose is intoxicating with deep ribbons of blueberry, richly round with spicy oak, and black fruit to complement. The mouth on this layered, complex, and full bodied wine is rich with layers of tannin that is just now integrating, along with layers of blackberry, cassis, along with great bracing acid that lifts the entire wine. The finish is long and spicy with spicy oak, chocolate, leather, tart fruit, vanilla, smoking tobacco, and red/black fruit that lingers long. BRAVO to Teperberg, this is truly a lovely wine, and one worthy of calling its flagship wine.

Posted on January 17, 2014, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

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