Some nice older and amazing newer kosher Israeli wines

2013 Yarden Sauvignon BlancWhen one speaks about Israeli wine – the name Yarden is sure to be one of the first wineries that are spoken of. Why? Because simply stated they are the defacto standard for quality in Israel. That was at least until the past few years, when the red wines took a very clear and strategic direction towards more ripe and classic new world styled wines. Why? Well, as I wrote here in my year in review, the kosher wine public is still a few years behind the wine learning curve, and they crave wine that is as subtle as a two-by-four between the eyes. Why? Well, to be blunt, starters do not have the capacity to appreciate the more subtle aspects of old world wines. That takes training and in the words of the late Daniel Rogov – the best way to appreciate and learn more about wine – is to drink more wine. Until that point, we will all have to wait for the majority of the kosher wine buying public to learn the joy of subtlety and stop craving sweets, and live with the result of that fact – meaning sweet and overripe wines. Thankfully, there are wineries that are still interested in creating well-rounded and all around enjoyable wines – like Tzora, Recanati, Netofa, Yatir, Castel, Dalton, Flam, Four Gates, and many others.

That said, Yarden is still the clear king of white and bubbly wines in Israel. First of all, there are few wineries with more than three quality labels of white wine. Many are still just producing one white wine. Tabor is one of those wineries that is showing it QPR value and clearly coming out from under the haze of Coca Cola and its perceived wine quality, in their situation “perception is NOT reality”.

Proof of this can be found in the bottle. Tabor Adama Roussanne, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc are examples of GREAT QPR wines, though only the Sauvignon Blanc is available here in the US.

The Yarden 2013 Sauvignon Blanc may very well be the best kosher Sauvignon on the market and maybe ever made. yes, that is high praise for a white wine, but ignoring the sweeter side of Sauvignon Blanc (AKA late harvest or Sauterne) this is one of the best or the best kosher version of a dry blanc that I have tasted yet. Along with that the Yarden Gewurtz and Yarden Chardonnay – both Odem and non are great this year. Finally, the Viognier and the entire line of bubbly wines are absolutely crushing it! Even the Gamla Blanc is very nice. Essentially, while Yarden may have had some missteps or may want more ripe red new world fruit, the whites still are showing why Yarden is king of the kosher bubbly and white wines. The only real competitor in the kosher market to the vast array of Yarden’s whites would be Hagafen’s vast array of white wines and rose wines.

The Yarden red we had was an older vintage and showed well enough. The 2005 Yarden Merlot, Kela Vineyard is a lovely Merlot and one that is in clear drink up mode.

The 2005 Yatir Cabernet shows why Yatir continues to shine and excel at its craft. The wine was not on the edge, though it is in drink up mode. The wine still held its ripeness in check and showed a clear level of constraint in both wood and ripeness and shows why Yatir is one of the best wineries in Israel.

We also had a bottle of the lovely 2011 Teperberg Malbec, Terra. The wine showed just as well here as it did in Israel and though the wines are not complex in nature they are very impressive all the same. Teperberg Winery continues to push the envelope and produce solid wines with good acidity and fruit control.

Finally, we had a Midbar Orange 44 from the 2010 vintage, when Yaacov Oryah was still doing the kashrut and the wine continues to impress me. The wine is rich and layered and shows more than enough acidity to keep the fruit in check – lovely and BRAVO Yaacov!

The wine notes follow below:

2011 Teperberg Winery Malbec, Terra – Score: A- (plus more)
I finally had the chance to drink this wine over a shabbos and I was NOT disappointed! After having had the chance to taste the Yarden Malbec and the Ramot Naftali Malbec, I can say safely that of the Malbec wines from Israel, that I have tasted, this is the best one.

That said, it is not an overly complex wine, yet it is a supple, rich, and layered wine. This nose is downright insane, with what I can only call a California Grenache/Syrah nose, showing ripe blueberry, boysenberry, black cherry, lovely smoked meat, along with earthy notes, and rich smokey notes. The mouth on this full bodied wine, has layers of ripe and rich blue and black fruit, along with mouth coating tannin, blackberry, black plum, tart raspberry, and lovely sweet cedar. The finish is long and tart, with sweet ripe and tart fruit, great balancing acidity, nutmeg, cinnamon, root beer, rich chocolate, and good sweet spice. BRAVO!

2013 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc – Score: A- (plus more)
I had this wine a few times in Israel and in the US and the continues to impress, which makes me so happy. This is a wine that is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and was aged in French barrels for 2 months. The oak gives the wine lovely roundness but it does not get in the way of the wine or the acid which is insane! I strongly believe that this may well be the best kosher Sauvignon on the market. For the price it is a 100% STEAL!!

To start this wine still needs time to open, PLEASE make sure to open this wine an hour or two in advance and then be sure to serve this well chilled. The nose on this light straw colored wine is aromatic and redolent with intense gooseberry, fresh cut grass, melon, white flowers, and lovely mineral – what a nose! The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and expressive yet not over the top, with lovely control and ripe fruit, starting with lemon/lime friache, tropical fruit, guava, and kiwi, grapefruit, nectarine, and lovely green notes. The finish is long and mineral based with great core acidity, that carries the fruit forward but allows for the slate, rock and lemon to clean up at the end – BRAVO!!!!

2010 Midbar Orange 44 – Score: A- (plus more)
The wine is the first kosher Orange wine I had ever tasted. It is a blend of three grapes (yeah – get over it) 52% Chenin Blanc, 24% Chardonnay, and 24%, Viognier. This was unique and different to me, but to many it is becoming a lightening rod – why? I am not sure, but many are finding orange wines to be too much of a fad in the non-kosher world. For me, there is only one of them – so one a fad does not make. The wine is different – it is not a white wine and while it is not a red wine the long skin maceration, 14 days in this case, causes the wine to take on an orange hue. The idea here is that the grape skins gives the wine tannin and it gives the wine more body.

The nose starts off with almond paste, oaked honeysuckle, ripe floral notes, and passion fruit. The mouth is ripe and medium in weight with nice mouth coating tannin, cherry, orange fruit, lemon, apple sauce, creme bruelle, lovely sweet cedar, all melding together with brioche, grapefruit, yeast, and a creamy and balanced mouth feel. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, allspice, butterscotch, kiwi, apple, marzipan, tart fruit, and cinnamon, along with biter notes and tangerine. A unique wine and one that may not be for everybody – but it sure works for me!

2013 Tabor Gewürztraminer, Adama, Chalk Soil – Score: B++
This is a nice enough off dry wine with some classic Gewurztraminer notes, but it is a wine that shows better with time so that the extreme bitter notes blow off. The nose on this straw with green halo colored wine shows off aromas of mango, guava, pineapple, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is clearly sweet with residual sugar, showing well with good acid, nice bitter notes, orange pith, kiwi, and straw. The finish is long and bitter with more pith, lovely honeysuckle, honeydew melon, and rose water that lingers on a long and bitter finish.

2005 Yarden Merlot, Kela Vineyard – Score: A-
This wine is a sweet new world wine, but the structure, backbone, and sweet fruit help to hide the date like notes that normally really bug me. The nose on this black colored wine is redolent with dark forest fruit, insane licorice, mint, date, smokey notes, and blackberry jam. The mouth on this full bodied wine shows the oak influence with sweet cedar, concentrated and extracted black fruit, raspberry, plum, and intense mouth coating tannins that linger long on the rise. The finish is long and herbal with more dark fruit, chocolate, leather, green notes, spice, and fig.

2005 Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A- (plus more)
What a lovely wine – this wine is still screaming with intense tannins and smokey notes – lovely!! This was the first true varietal true Cabernet Sauvignon from Yatir, until then all the Cab was blended into the blend of the Forest. The wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Shiraz. The nose on this purple to black colored wine is screaming with oriental spice, rich leafy tobacco, cloves, black fruit, and roasted herb. The mouth on this full bodied shows still searing tannin, toasty notes, spicy oak, along with layers upon layers of concentrated cassis, blackberry, raspberry, and mouth coating tannin. The finish is long with intense earthy notes, mineral, heavy graphite, chocolate, and dates that recede over time. BRAVO!!! This wine will last for another 3 or so years. The wine is at peak, not improving from here. Enjoy now as the sweet notes are rising and why wait – you have a wine at peak – enjoy it there!!!

Posted on May 19, 2014, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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