Top kosher Rose, White, and Sparkling wines that I have tasted in 2015
I have recently returned from another trip to Israel, and my main interest was tasting as many white and Rose 2013 and 2014 wines as I could possibly do do, in my short time in the Holy land. So, to meet that need I went to some 16 wineries and had two blind tasting of 26 wines each. The first tasting consisted of JUST white, rose, and bubbly and some sweet as well. The second was a bit more lenient and including some reds, which I will talk about on another posting.
I want to take a moment to talk about the state of reds in Israel. I was hoping that with the release of some 2013 vintages things would be improving, sadly they have not! As you know, I have posted often about the issues that Israel faces in the kosher wine world. The red wines continue to be the same old stuff, unbalanced, fruit bombs with ripe fruit and no real unique characteristics at all. Even the super star wineries are slowing following the lead Yarden and making wines that cater to the single minded public – over the top, in your face, and lacking in balance and unique. Really, the true sad aspect of red wines in Israel today is more than just the lack of unique terroir, it is that they almost all taste the same. Cabernet wines are all the same, as are Merlot, and the famous Israeli blends.
Even the great wineries are slowly moving towards the mean, with wines that are more fruit bombs then they are varietally true. The 2009 Yatir Petite Verdot was a shocker, I had it a few months ago and now it is showing true fruit bomb characteristics. Same can be said for some of the new 2012 Teperberg wines.
Still, the 2011 wines from Teperberg are rocking as are many of the Yatir wines, though I picked on the PV. My point is that wineries are moving in the direction that meets the need for larger quantities. There are still star wines at Teperberg, including the lovely new Malbec and Chardonnay wines. Same for Yatir which continues to be in the top wineries of Israel, in my opinion. Still, when one sees the stars moving in that direction, I can only hope that it stops before it spreads.
The saving grace of Israel wine overall, at this time, is the white, rose, and bubbly wines that they are producing! Think about what I just said, 6 years ago, Yarden was creating superstar wines, having just released, at that time, the 2008 wines and the reds were killing it. The whites were sad, and only a few rose were even in production. That all changed with a sudden shift in the production of far more rose and whites to the point where no matter how hard I tried, I could not taste all the whites and rose that Israel produced this year – good or bad. That would have been a very easy task in years past, but this year, even after making a concerted effort, I hope I covered the majority. I missed Psagot’s great new whites and Rose, produced under the caring hands/eyes of Yaacov Oryah, from acclaimed Midbar fame.
To me, the stars of Israel are the whites and rose. They are everywhere. Every winery feels forced now to create wines for the hot Israeli climate, and it makes perfect sense. The wines for the most part are crisp and light and refreshing, some with more complexity than others. The varieties are growing, including some fascinating blends from the likes of Mia Luce and Tzuba Winery.
Sure, there are lovely to superstar reds, from wineries like Matar, Netofa, Yatir, Flam, Castel, Tzora, Gvaot, Recanati, Dalton, Teperberg, Tura, Carmel Winery (Israeli labels), Ella Valley (for the Franc), and some others.
So, if I was in Israel and I had a choice between red or white/rose – for a large majority of wineries, sadly I would only chose the rose or white. That is a sad state of affairs, but it is one that has been created by the Israeli wineries themselves. They always have the chance to change back, till then I will enjoy the wines made in California, Spain, France, and wait for bell curve to shift like it has in France and California. I hope Israel is only slightly behind them, but from what I had on this last trip, things are still going the wrong way in the world of kosher red Israeli wines.
Finally, this list is a list of wines that I have personally tasted. There may well be many more wines that I have yet to taste, like the afore mentioned 2014 Psagot wines. That said, the notes and recommendations are the wines that I liked. There are other whites that are not listed here for a reason, and that is the rub. Is the wine not listed because I did not care for it, or because I did not taste it. For the most part I have tried my best to get to every white and rose in Israel on my last two trips. I know I have missed some, The Trio 14, the new Jezreel Rose, and others. Such is life.
I need to make a few notes here about the wines listed here. Many will have very different opinions about the rose and whites that I like. The reason there is that really a rose should be treated like a white wine – NOT a red one. White wines will polarize people for sure, many folks told me they did not like the Yarden bubblies, while I adore them. Same for the Tabor Barbera Rose, while I really love that wine as well. What can I say, these wines, like reds, are up for discussion, and I have no problem with that.
A quick note on Rose for a minute. Rose wines are normally made in one of two ways, either it is a by product of another wine (saignee) or it is crushed and pressed for the rose alone. There is a third way, blending white and red wine together, but that is rarely to never done in the kosher wine world.
The original kosher rose in 2009 by Castel and earlier by others was done by the saignee manner, where the juice was pulled from a red grape wine, to concentrate the juice of the red wine. The outcome was that there was pink colored juice that tasted just fine, and it became the first Castel Rose. This was not repeated by Catsel going forward, because the wine is super high in alcohol for a rose. The grapes used in that wine were picked for a red wine, 14+% alcohol. So when the juice is bled off from the red wine, it is high in alcohol – like the red wine is. So, if you see a high alcohol rose, you know which method was used, and for the most part will not always create a crisp, tart, and refreshing rose.
The other and most prevalent manner used here in the rose wines listed below, is the manner by which white wines are created, excepting for the post crush soaking that does not happen with whites. So, normally white wines are picked, crushed, and then immediately pressed, so that the juice does not sit in the white/green grape skins, which could be used to create an Orange Wine. However, rose wines want to color from the red grapes, so they are picked early to keep the tart flavors, then crushed, and allowed to soak in the red grape must (with the skins) for whatever time the winemaker feels will give them the color and flavors they want. Once that is achieved, the wine pressed and it goes into tanks (excepting for Agur and some others) where it lives to ferment and then is filtered and bottled. Some ferment the juice in barrels, as stated, like Agur, some ferment the grape juices separately, and then create the blends later, after fermentation. Finally, some do not let the grapes go all the way, and leave the wine off-dry. One of the famous off-dry rose, Dalton is still too sweet for me, but it is here for completeness.
Also, the wines listed here are mostly 2014 or 2013, I did that on purpose. Except for the Chardonnay wines, bubbly, and maybe the Semillon wines, age is not a quality on the other white wines. The older they get, the more they lose the crisp and bright notes that make them unique. Sure, the Mia Luce is an exception, but for the vast majority of whites and rose, PLEASE keep them to a year of age and that is it. You will appreciate them more, they are more crisp with more of a bite than the 2013 and for sure on the 2012 wines.
So, for whites and rose – here is the list of varietals and where you can get them:
- Sparkling wines – right now stick with Hagafen, Yarden/Gamla/Gilgal, and the French options
- Miscellaneous Varietals and Blends: Greanache Blanc and others varietals – stick with Israel and California
- Chardonnay – right now I would stick with California Chardonnay and a few Israeli options
- Sauvignon Blanc – Israeli and California
- Semillon – really only exists in Israel, stick with the Dalton, Mia Luce blends, Tzuba Blends, and Midbar 2014
- Viognier – really only exists in Israel, stick with the 2014 Dalton Viognier and the 2014 Psagot. 2013 Dalton is turning – DRINK UP!!
- Roussanne – 2013 Tabor, Gush, 2012 Shirah in their Vintage Whites blend, and in the 2014 Recanati RSR White, which I have never been a fan of. The Binyamina has died.
- Rose – GREAT options from 2013/2014 California, 2014 Israel, and 2014 Goose Bay
- White Riesling – Carmel is killing it here along with Hagafen and 2014 Tabor
- Gewürztraminer – This is almost always fine in Israel, almost always off-dry, but there are a few GREAT exceptions. The 2013 Lueria, and the new 2014 Carmel (still sweet) but may be the best of all
- Chenin Blanc – Israel rules here, with netofa, Matar, and 2014 Midbar
- Pinot Grigio/Gris – In the past this was a graveyard, now 2014 Lueria, 2013/2014 Dalton – BRAVO!
- White Dessert wines – Israel and Hagafen are very solid, but the best remain the French Sauternes, even though they are much more expensive
So, without further ado, I will list many of the white and bubbly wines that I have found to be very good to excellent, or in my parlance, B++ to A- and up. Finally, this is my list of white favorites, I would really love to hear your favorite white wines, so please post comments below.
The wine notes follow below:
- 2009 Yarden Rose Brut – Score: A- to A
In many ways even better than the 2008, and now this epic wine will be sold in the USA! This vintage shows more red fruit than 2008, but the insane acid is there, with mousse of small bubbles and citrus madness. The wine is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, giving it a pinkish hue.
The nose on this lovely rose colored bubbly is ripe with raspberry, plum, yeast, and spice. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich with lovely structure, along with layers of sweet and tart fruit, pomegranate, candied cherry, grapefruit, lemon, and strawberry, all wrapped in a small focused mousse attack and ripping acid. The finish is long with a clean attack of acid, tart fruit, lemon friache, floral notes, and yeast. BRAVO!!!
- 2008 Yarden Brut de Brut – Score: A- (and more)
The 2008 vintage is more tart and citrus than the epic 2007 vintage and in many ways, but the 2007 is more regal, rich, richer and more hedonistic than the 2008.
The nose on this lovely wine is filled with rich mineral, slate, rock, and yeast. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is rich and layered and elegant with a lovely mousse of small bubbles, lemon, grapefruit, mad citrus, followed by tangerine, lime, intense mineral, baked apple pie, and brioche notes. The finish is long, tart, acidic, with non stop tart fruit, herb, and lemon zest – BRAVO!!!
- NV Drappier Carte d’Or, Brut – Score: A- (and more) (Mevushal)
This is the second of two Drappier wines that Royal is releasing. We tasted the other one – Carte Blance and liked that one very much. The wine is a blend of the traditional Champagne grapes: 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. The nose on the light gold and salmon colored wine is starts off with yeast, nice mineral, bright lemon, apple, brioche, cherry, and toast. The mouth on the medium bodied wine starts off with a crazy attack of insane small mousse bubbles, with layer after layer of white peach, strawberry, brioche, raspberry, mineral, and spice. The finish is long with tart fruit, crazy acid, dried quince, and more toast lingering.
- NV Drappier Carte Blanche, Brut – Score: A- (and more) (mevushal)
The wine is a blend of the traditional Champagne grapes: 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. The nose light gold colored wine is explosive with rich toast, fluffy white chocolate, herb, grapefruit, quince jam, strawberry, malting yeast, and minerality. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is super rich with an energizer bunny small bubble mousse, more toast and brioche, nice yeast, rich herb, super bright and tart green apple that mellows down to a creamy apple sauce, along with mad acid, herb, grapefruit, and mineral. The finish is long and rich with more small bubble mousse, herb, more yeast, and mineral. This is a lovely and balanced wine that does like more time in the glass. Even better leave a few glasses of wine in the bottle, cap it with a normal cork and try it the next day – quite lovely!
- N.V. Elvi Wines Cava, Brut, Adar – Score: A- (mevushal)
The notes on this wine are consistent with my last tasting. Please make sure to be getting the new bottling, which is the mevushal bottling – which is newer. The nose on this bubbly and effervescent light pink colored wine, is hopping with strawberry, lemon, light char and smokey notes, and cherry. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine is packed with small bubbles that are active and alive; that are clean and well made that mingle well with green apple, Asian pear, brioche and bracing acidity. The finish is long and tart with core acidity, strawberry, bubbles, and a lemon burst at the very tail end. BRAVO!
- 2008 Yarden Rose, Brut – Score: A- (and more)
To call this brut wine a rose, is such a misnomer that it is not even close. This should have been called a Rose Brut, like the 2007 Blancs de Blancs is called a Blanc! Still, what can you do the labels are printed and such is life. The wine is made of 30% Pinot Noir and 70% Chardonnay, and then was bottle aged for 5 years on its lees. It is a classic bubbly wine that I have now had the chance to spend a Shabbos with and taste three times. I asked a few winemakers about it, and each replied with their own leanings, some find it a perfect match to Champagne and some find it too light for them, liking more the Blancs de Blancs brute force and style. To me both wines are a wonderful gift to the kosher wine world and a must for anyone drinking sparkling wine. As of now the wine is not going to be imported to the US – so buy it when you are in Israel.The nose on this beautiful pink salmon colored wine is rich and redolent, but shy as well, with classic yeast notes, followed by pink grapefruit, strawberry, and peach. The mouth on this medium to medium plus bodied wine starts off with a lovely attack of fine bubble mousse, freshly baked and then toasted brioche, along with green apple pie, freshly roasted almonds, pear, and cherry notes. The finish is long, luscious, and captivating with bracing acidity, candied currant, fig, and white chocolate. BRAVO!!!
- 2007 Yarden Blanc de Blancs – Score: A- to A
The Yarden Blanc de Blancs is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes grown in the northern Golan Heights, Israel’s coolest viticultural area. The wine is made strictly according to the traditional method (méthode champenoise) including hand harvesting, pressing of whole clusters to increase acidity and fruit flavors, and secondary fermentation in the bottle. Disgorging took place after five years of bottle aging on the tirage yeast.Are u kidding me! A filthy wine with a nose of intense fruit, lemon curd, peach and apple cobbler, brioche, and nice toast that gives way to ripe green and yellow apple, and crazy insane ripe lemon curd. The medium mouth is wow in a single word. Thanks to Gabriel Gellerfor selling me the bottle, and sharing it all around. The mouth is insanely ripe and intense and ripe with ripe baked anjou pear, freakish assault vehicle of acidity and small mousse bubbles, with lovely yeast and brace for it – mouth coating tannin!! The finish is long and tart with insane grapefruit, bitter and rich grapefruit pith, and lemon zest. Bravo!!!
- 2005 Yarden Blanc de Blancs, Brut – Score: A-
We enjoyed the 2007 and 2005 at a tasting recently, the 2007 shows insane potential, and while 6 months ago the 2007 was awesome, right now it is more closed than ready. That said, the 2005 vintage was tasting lovely, not as sharp and focused as the 2007 was and will be again, but a very nice sparkler all the same.
The nose shows rich notes of toast, floral notes, and tropical fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely with small mousse bubbles, followed by bright acid, lovely yeast notes, rich fruit, lovely baked apple, along with white toasted brioche, and bracing acid that makes for a lovely dry, generous and elegant sparkling wine.
- 2012 Hagafen brut cuvee – Score: b+ to A-
This nose is lovely with yeast, and spice, nice peach, green Apple brioche and spice. Lovely medium body with great acid, great brioche, small bubble mousse, pear and citrus with apple pie and spice lingering. The finish is long and tart, with good acid, lemon friache and fig.
- NV Gamla/Gilgal Hashmura Brut – Score: A- (crazy QPR)
This is the new vintage and be careful that the wine says extra dry – otherwise it is a previous vintage and not as fun, the wine is mostly 2011 grapes. The nose on this bubbly is sick with lovely quince, apple cider, with straw and tart citrus. The mouth is full and an attack force of small mousse bubbles, followed by year and rich unction, followed by layers of pear and madly refreshing with crazy acid and pith, and more bubbles that do not give up. The finish is long with dried fruit, nine dry mouth feel, that flows into dried herb and rich white tea. BRAVO!!!!
- 2013 Gvaot Chardonnay/Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A-
To me this is the best vintage that Shivi has made of this funky blend. The nose shows tropical fruit, with guava, melon, and kiwi. The mouth on this medium bodied is far more in tune with itself, than in previous vintages, in my opinion, with cherry, raspberry, along with green apple, brioche, and nice spice. The finish is long and mineral, with great balancing acid, slate, mineral, and nice herb. NICE!
- 2013 Pascal Bouchard Chablis – Score: B++
The nose of this unoaked Chardonnay is lovely with tart fruit, earthy mineral, lemon tart, and citrus joy. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is free of oak, with a slightly hollow middle, showing nicely with nectarine, orange, tangerine, peach, and summer fruit. The finish is long and refreshing with lovely pith, tart fruit, spice, mineral, and cloves. Nice
- 2012 Shiloh Chardonnay – Score: B+ to A-
This is a nice Chard with good fruit structure and spice. The nose on this wine shows nicely with peach, apricot, brioche, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice with toasty notes, lovely green applle, nice vanilla, spice, hints of earth, saline, and good balancing acid. The finish was long with mushroom, fig, and nice herb. Nice!
- 2013 Matar Chardonnay – Score: A-
Please do not get me wrong, but to me this was the weakest of the wines, which is saying a lot with an A- score. This wine is a lovely expression of a Cali Chardonnay, with enough acid to keep my attention, but it does not have the crazy acid or mineral that the other white wines were showing. Still, it is a lovely Chard, and it was aged in 100% new oak for 9 months.The nose on this Chardonnay is rich and toasty with clear oak notes, lovely apple cobbler, spiced yellow apple, and crushed herb. The mouth on this full bodied wine is viscous and plush, with an attack of spiced summer fruits, butterscotch, rich peach, apricot, showing ripe fruit in this round and textured mouth, with a spicy bite, brioche, yeast, and sweet oak. The finish is long and buttery, with sweet quince, pear, nutmeg and sage. Very Nice.
- 2014 Matar Special Edition – Score: A- (and more)
This is a special wine made for the Derech Hayain wine stores. It is mostly Chardonnay with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc added in. It is crazy because this was tasted blind like all the other wines in this tasting and we thought it was an SB – no way this was a chard! The bit of SB overpowered this wine in a very special manner. This wine has a lovely nose of wet grass, cat’s piss, gooseberry, with citrus and lemon. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is crazy with sick ripping acid, intense crazy citrus pith, nectarines, with rich sweet and tart fruit, it flows into lemon grass, pineapple and tart yellow grapefruit. The finish is long with straw and mineral finish with crazy kiwi lingering. BRAVO!!!
- 2011 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: A- (and more)
The nose on this light gold wine is redolent with bright notes, peach, fresh baked apple jam, and cobbler, along with baking spices and toast. The mouth on this full bodied wine is a beast – to be nice, it is a burly beast that truly needs a few years to calm down. The mouth is rich and layered with searing acid and oak, followed by quince and green plum pie that keeps coming at you in layers of fruit, acid, and toast while keeping well balanced and concentrated. The finish is long and super spicy with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves, with white chocolate, herbs, summer fruits, and spicy oak on the long finish. BRAVO! Maybe one of his best, but only time will tell. This wine will be best from 2015 to 2021.
- 2013 Yarden Chardonnay, Katzrin – Score: A-
This wine has been getting less oaky from release, but it is still too much of an oak bomb for my at release. Normally, a Katzrin white is far more enjoyable three or so years after release – then at release itself. The nose on this wine shows creamy notes, butter, insane oak, along with a peach perfume, and a apple cobbler. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is nice with good toast, intense spice, along with guava, citrus, and layers of spice, fruit, and brioche. The finish is long with sweet lemon tea, nutmeg and almond.
- 2013 Adir A Lavan – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose on this lovely wine starts with a perfume of sweet oak, spice, along with lovely baked apple pie, and citrus. The mouth on this medium bodied wine feels fuller from the lovely viscosity of the wine that coats the mouth, showing apple, grapefruit, quince, balanced with lovely acid, tart apple, nectarine, and lemon friache. The finish is long with nice acid, brioche, baked goods, and pith. Nice!
- 2013 Domaine du Castel ‘C’ Blanc du Castel, Judean Hills – Score: A- (and a bit more)
The nose on this wine is screaming with a very particular scent to me, the nose of the 2002 Four Gates Chardonnay that was never released, it was aged in Meyrieux barrels and it is a lovely scent indeed! The nose on this lovely nose is ripe with baked notes, toasty oak, pineapple, pear and baked Apple pie. The mouth on this lovely full bodied wine is crazy with ripping acid, rich toast, green apple peel, with rich cloves and white pepper, with crazy mineral, rich velvety mouth, with melon, peach, and guava that is hiding behind the mad acid and mineral. Long and spicy finish and toasty yeast notes with rich vanilla and brioche. Lovely!
- 2013 Teperberg Chardonnay, Reserve – Score: A-
The nose on this lovely wine starts off with rich butterscotch, buttery nose, ripe pineapple, creme fresche, and apple. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich, viscous, and creamy, with great balancing acid, showing nice elegance and balance, lovely brioche, sweet oak, with guava, melon, layers of grapefruit, yeast notes, and Asian pear. The finish is long with sweet fruit, showing nice nutmeg and sweet spices, with good mineral, saline and slate lingering. Bravo!
- 2013 Hagafen Chardonnay, Prix, Reserve, Oak Knoll District – Score: A-
What can I say, for reasons I do not understand myself, Hagafen Chard never did it for me. This one is very nice to very solid. The nose on this light gold colored wine is lovely with quinine, quince, sweet oak and peach pie. The mouth on this medium body is refined with great control, nice sweet cedar, lovely brioche, baked quince pie, guava, pear, with spice and mounds of fresh baked goods. The finish is long and fresh, with nice balancing acid, along with great cloves spices more baked goods, lovely nutmeg spice and herb. Very Nice!
2013 Chardonnay Di Zimbalista – Score: B++ to A-
This may be called a Chardonnay, but if you tasted it blind, you would never have guessed it. The nose on this wine is crazy, and non-typical with intense apple, banana, rock, with nice green notes. Nice round mouth with ripping acid and sweet notes of guava and melon, but balanced with green tea, peach, and tart quince, with mad grass, straw, and tart rock fruit. Long and mineral finish with slate, roasted herb, green notes, apple, kiwi, lemon madness, with yellow grapefruit lingering long.
- 2012 Domaine Lafond Tavel, Bokobsa – Score: B+ to A-
This is the best Tavel I have tasted by far and one that is worthy of your time to find it. The wine has organic on it, from a European perspective, but it will not be on the USDA label because that would require ZERO added sulfites, which is suicide for a wine. With that said, the vines are organically grown and the wine has a very minimal addition of sulfites, of 150 mg (or 150 ppm), and may even be less than that.The nose on this cherry colored wine is beautiful with cherry notes, green foliage, slate, and rock. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts with lovely acid, followed by earth, dirt, quince, currant, herb, lovely pith and spice. The finish is long and bitter with orange pith, spiced strawberry, summer fruit compote, and lovely herbs with eucalyptus lingering long – BRAVO!!!
- 2014 Tabor Rose – Score: A- (and more)
To me this is one of the best roses out of Israel, along with a few others, as I stated before here. This wine is made from 100% Barbera. The nose on this lovely wine is ripping with tart fruit, plum, strawberry, melon, grapefruit, tart citrus, and raspberry. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is aggressive with searing acid, rich fruit, and layers of spice and saline, some will love it, others will hate it. The saline, is followed by gooseberry, with intense acid, bitter notes, followed by rich cherry, dirt, and very nice spice. The finish is long and bracing with tart fruit, earth, dirt, saline, mineral, and spice. BRAVO!!!!
- 2014 Recanati Rose – Score: B++ (Great QPR)
The wine is a blend of Barbera and Merlot grapes. The nose starts off with nice flint, pink grapefruit, along with nice raspberry,strawberry and orange hints. The mouth on this medium bodied wine continues to be one of the best QPR Rose wines out there, a refreshing wine with lovely spice, nice balancing but not ripping acid, with lovely green apples, herb, citrus, and spice.The finish is long, tart, and refreshing with great pith, quince, and Dragon fruit.
- 2014 Recanati Gris de Marselan – Score: A- (and more)
This wine may be at the same epic status as the famed 12 Shirah rose and the 13 Hajdu rose. The nose is pure heaven, with mad spice, mineral, sour kirsch cherry, earth, and quince. The wine is layered and complex with candied but controlled fruit, wrapped in mind blowing acidity and mineral that it cuts through anything I was tasting. The pith is searing with the perfectly focused acid, topped by pink candied grapefruit, lemon, gooseberry, candied raspberry, dirt, and more pith. The finish is so tart it is crazy, with mineral and earth closing it out! BRAVO!!!! This is a must buy, go out and get a bunch!
- 2014 Goose Bay Blanc de Pinot Noir – Score: A- (QPR)
The 2013 vintage was too sweet for me, but this vintage was perfect, well balanced and showing lovely acid. The nose on this wine made from 100% Pinot Noir, was redolent with strawberry, herb, raspberry, slate, and mineral. The mouth on this lovely medium bodied wine has some weight and viscosity, but well balanced with tart fruit, ripping acid, crisp and refreshing, showing currant, pink grapefruit, quince, lovely saline, gooseberry, nectarine, and more tart fruit. The finish is long and tart with nice pith and more acid rounding out the finish. BRAVO!!
- 2014 Domaine Netofa Rose (QPR) – Score: A- (and more)
This wine is blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Mourvedre. The nose on this beautiful cherry colored wine, is also Pierre’s best by far, and right up there with the other 2014 rose blockbusters; the 2014 Tabor Barbera Rose, the 2014 Recanati Gris de Marselan, and the 2014 Gvaot Rose. The nose on this wine is INSANE and starts with smoke, flint, mad floral notes, rose hips, crazy mineral, showing like a feminine floral rose, but backed by intense mineral and smoke. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is packed and crazy and very busy (in a great way), with mad quince, juicy raspberry, dry cherry, ripe plum, all balanced by ripping mineral, graphite, slate, mad acid, along with mounds of orange pith, topped by hints of nectarine, and dry rose hips. This mouth is one of the more complex rose I have had since the famous 2013 Hajdu Roseand the 2012 Shirah Rose. The finish is long and dry with lovely saline, mineral, candied grapefruit, finishing with more pith, and slate – BRAVO!!!!
- 2014 Castel Rose – Score: A-
The wine is a blend of Petite Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. The nose on this gris colored wine, is rich with floral notes, jasmine, and rose hips, followed by a perfume of mineral notes, sea aromas, and peach. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripping with great acid, saline, ripe cherry, strawberry, followed by an attack of ripe and tart pink grapefruit, intense citrus, and green herbs. The finish is long and floral, and mineral, with more saline, rock, slate, and cloves, nectarine, and long lingering pith. Very Nice!
- 2014 Flam Rose – Score: A- (and a bit more)
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. The nose on this lovely pink color shows ripe and dried fruit, with crazy steely strawberry, raspberry, dried grass, and tart fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is crisp with mad acid , lovely cranberry, lovely tart grapefruit, kiwi, gooseberry, with lime, lemongrass, intense spice, and lemon peel all wrapped in a viscous and lovely mouth feel. Lovely long tart/fresh finish with mineral galore, saline, slate, tart fruit compote, and green olives lingering long with pith and sweet tart fruit, BRAVO!!!
- 2014 Shirah Rose – Score: A-
This is the second rose from the famous Wiess Brothers, AKA Shirah Winery. The last one was one of the best rose I ever had (along with Hajdu 13 Rose), so sure this wine has a huge legacy to uphold, sadly it falls short, but it is still a lovely wine in its own right.The nose on this wine is ripe and rich with bubblegum to start, along with life savers candy, mad citrus, grapefruit, and flint/rock. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and acidic and lovely, with layers of dark and blue fruit, that are caressed by a rich core of zinberry notes, boysenberry, kiwi, followed by lovely tart pomegranate and bitter plum. The finish is long with nice spices, more tart fruit, crazy citrus pith, with zinberry/raspberry/blueberry lingering on the long tart and pith finish. Very Nice.
- 2013 Chateau Montaud, Cotes du Provence – Score: A-
OK, this wine is another polarizing wine, some will love it, others will think it is dead and undrinkable. Trust me, we tasted it blind and many thought that. The nose on this gris colored wine is indeed old world, dried fruit, earth, dirt, mineral, saline, and no sweet notes to be found. The nose on this lovely wine is filled with dried apple, mad quince bomb, along with wicked earth, and dirt. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is how they like it in Provence, focused, mineral, straw, dried grass, slate, dirt, earth, crazy acid, and barely any fruit to be found with pear and green apple making an appearance with time. The finish is focused, saline, mad acid and mineral bomb. Bravo!
2014 Yatir Rose – Score: A-
This wine is a rose of 68% Grenache and 32% Tempranillo, and it is not officially the first ever from Yatir, but the first one in many many years.
The nose on this beautiful cherry colored wine starts off with rich tart acidic fruit, strawberry, with lovely peach, lemon, and lime, along with lovely lemongrass, minerality, spice, and herb. The mouth on this lovely wine is much like the one from Castel with floral and fruit focus, but not with the same ripping acid as the Bat Shlomo or the Tabor rose. The wine is medium bodied with lovely acid, well balanced with nice pith, rose hip, sweet and tart fruit, sweet grapefruit, nice herb, sweet apple and pineapple. The finish is long with good lingering orange pith, mad saline, rock, and elegance.
2014 Bat Shlomo Rose – Score: A- (and more)
This is one of the best rose that I have tasted this year, with a few others listed here. The nose on this lovely pink colored wine is filled with crisp fruit, great strawberry and cherry. The mouth on this medium plus body fills your mouth with a rush of ripping acid, followed by ripe summer fruits, wild raspberry, crazy quince, nectarines, mad ripping grapefruit, intense lemon, and crazy acid that dominates, followed by a rush of saline and intense crispness that makes u have to smile. The finish is long and spicy, with clean slate finish, nice nutmeg and straw. BRAVO!!!!
2014 Don Ernesto Rose, Beret – Score: A- (QPR)
This lovely rose is made from 100% Syrah. The name Beret completes the bracha line, “Beret Prix Hagafen”. The nose on this beautiful salmon colored wine is redolent with with great cherry, raspberry, strawberry, along with lovely floral notes and sweet fruit. The mouth on this lovely medium body starts with great spice, currant, grapefruit, citrus, and cloves. The finish is very long and spicy with great mineral, saline, intense acid, tart fruit, crazy grapefruit and lemon linger long on a spicy and saline finish. BRAVO!!
2014 Hajdu Grenache Rose – Score: A-
This wine is a lovely rose made from 100% Grenache grapes. This wine is nice, but does not approach the mad Provence style Rose of 2013, that wine was pure saline and mineral, this one has far more fruit though it is well balanced.
The nose on this lovely pink wine shows crazy dragon fruit, notes of almond, and rose hips. The mouth on this medium bodied wine hits you with crazy mineral, along with nice spice, saline, dried herb and nutmeg, cloves, with dried cherry, raspberry, candied grapefruit, and intense spice with great slate. The finish is long and spicy with kiwi and lovely Meyer lemon. BRAVO!!
2014 Ella Valley Rose – Score: B+ to A-
The wine is a blend of 78% Merlot and 22% Cabernet Franc. The nose on this wine is unique with aromas of dry grass, intense tart fruit, with kiwi, lemon, and strawberry. The mouth on this wine is very nice with good acid, cranberry notes, along with gooseberry, mad straw, tropical fruit, nice floral notes, along with dried fruit struicture, dried apple and dried pear. The finish is long and dry with nice balancing acid, good pith that lingers with straw, mineral and stone. Nice!
2014 Agur Rosa – Score: B+ to A-
This wine is a blend of 50% Mourvedre, 40% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is crushed, left to stay in contact with the grapes for a couple of hours, then pressed and fermented in oak barrels.
The nose on this light rose colored wine is lovely with ripe strawberry, straw, lovely cherry, candied apple, raspberry, with lovely saline and dry fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is floral with nice rose hips, peach, balanced well with good acid, very nice saline, showing a viscous mouth (not as lovely as the 12 or 13), with nice summer fruit, peach, and kiwi. The finish is long with lovely slate and lingering pith on the long finish.
2014 Lueria Rose – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this lovely wine is redolent with crazy pink grapefruit, candied strawberry, raspberry, mad quince, peach, candied fruit, and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is smokey, with saline, tart fruit, good balancing acid, a crazy mineral based rose, but the fruit is hiding upon initial opening, but with time the fruit comes out; candied plum, kiwi, pear, crazy herb, menthol and mineral. The finish is long with saline and spice, slate, with cloves, pith, and nectarines ripping through the nice weight. Bravo!
2014 Midbar Rose – Score: B++ to A-
This wine is a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache, a rose very much of the Tavel makeup. The nose on this peach colored wine starts off with sweet peach, along with nice tart raspberry, gooseberry, earth, and perfume of floral notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is crisp, tart, and full of nice acid, with good structure and spice, showing lovely strawberry and sweet orange marmalade, with nectarines, and dried apple peels, all wrapped in searing acid and sweet fruit notes. The finish is long and balanced with nice pith and sweet notes lingering.
- 2014 Dalton Rose – Score: B+
As I stated above, this is not one of my favorites, but for the price it is not so bad. The QPR winners in this section are Recanati, Goose Bay, Hagafen, and Netofa. The wine is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Barbera. The nose on this nice wine shows rich mineral, guava, with cranberry, strawberry, lovely kiwi, and lots of mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is off-dry with residual sweetness that throws me off, but gives the wine a mouth coating weight but lacking the acid I crave, with grapefruit, cherry, and pineapple madness. The finish is long and sweet with enough acidity and pith to bring it together.
White Wine Blends:
- 2013 Jezreel White Blend – Score: B+ to A-
This is one of those unique and very nice blends with 30% Gewurtztraminer, 30% Riesling, and 40% Chardonnay. The nose on this wine starts off with tropical notes, guava, kiwi, honey, honeysuckle, floral notes, and peach. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has a nice almost oily viscosity that adds richness to the mouth, but the acidity is crisp, with honeyed fruit, melon, and apple. The finish is long with nice spice, good fruit structure, slate, mineral, and nice herb.
- 2013 Recanati Special White Blend #3 – Score: A- (and a bit)
The wine is blend of 95% Colombard and 5% Chardonnay – WOW!!!! Please make this available to everyone. To me, I prefer this wine over the white RSR. I have never been a huge fan of the white RSR, to me it lacks the acid and while it is a more polished and professional wine, this wine makes me happy.
The wine is so tart and ripe and pithy that it puts a smile on my face when I tasted it. The nose on this lovely wine starts off with ripe guava, quince, melon, and hints of brioche, and vanilla. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is round, ripe, rich, and perfectly balanced and tart, with great acid, grapefruit, sweet honeysuckle, floral notes, along with lovely pith. The finish is long and tart/bitter with mad citrus and dried nectarine lingering on the intense mineral and rock finish. BRAVO!!!!!
- 2013 Matar Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Score: A-
This wine is an unasked classic Bordeaux blend of 50% Semillon and 50% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose on this lovely wine is filled with tart green apple, lovely fresh cut grass, with straw and kiwi in the background. The mouth on this lovely medium bodied wine is well structured with sick ripping acid, rich and deep mineral, with green apple, melon, intense spice, Asian pear, green notes, and herb bringing the mouth together. The finish is crazy long and herbal with intense slate, rich cloves, peach, cat pee, lemon friache, citrus pith, intense and insane saline, and lovely mineral madness. Once the fruit comes and goes off your palate all you remember and feel is crazy saline, slate, mineral, straw, and rock. The mineral and saline madness is something I have truly not had often – MEGA BRAVO!!!
- 2012 Gush Etzion Blessed Valley White – Score: A-
The wine is a blend of 49% Viognier, 33% Roussanne, and 33% Chardonnay. The nose starts off with a lovely garden of violets and jasmine, surrounded by a lush garden of honeysuckle, ripe peach, apple, and ripe melon, all enveloped with an impressive and intoxicating perfume. The mouth on this medium bodied mouth shows the 8 months that this wine sat in French oak, with a light oily texture, spice, lovely saline, brioche, baked apple pie, layered with fruit and fresh compote. The finish is long and spicy with cloves, toast, hints of petrol, straw, and more saline – BRAVO!
- 2013 Gush Etzion Spring River White – Score: B+ to A-
This wine is a blend of many the white varietals that Gush has; Gewurtztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Roussanne. The nose on this lovely wine is tart and off dry with ripe summer fruit, peach, apricot, melon, grapefruit, and spiced Asian pear. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is expanded with the residual sugar, showing light petrol, dried fig, rich herb, dried honeysuckle, gooseberry, and green apple. The finish is long but I could have used more bracing acid, nice fruit, and spice.
- 2013 Lahat Lavan– Score: B+ to A-
This was a very unique and interesting wine, it is a blend of 80% Roussanne and 20% Viognier. The wine is made by Itai Lahat, the new super wine consultant of Israel. The nose on this wine is fascinating with mad smoked fruit, heavy toast, peach, honeysuckle, straw, and apricot. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is crazy with rich oily texture, showing heavy oak, lovely spice, smoked peach, grapefruit, hints of tannin, and lovely bracing acid that envelops the brioche, and spiced apple pie. The finish is long, spicy, balanced, with intense acid, tart fruit, herb, saline, and lovely slate – VERY NICE!
- 2014 Flam Blanc – Score: A- (and a bit more)
This wine is a blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Chardonnay fermented and aged in steel. Personally, I think this is the best kosher blanc so far. The nose on this lovely wine is ripping with ripe grapefruit, steely freshness and saline, along with fresh cut grass, gooseberry, crazy citrus, lemon friache, and lovely tart fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripping with core acidity, tart nectarine, spice, and mineral. The crisp and fresh wine really is impressive. The finish is long with nice tart fruit, lovely floral notes, orange, and lemon pith. Bravo!
- 2013 Tzuba Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc Blend – Score: A-
This wine is a 50/50 blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, which was aged in oak for 8 months. The nose on this lovely wine is all about balance with a lovely steely nose, with rich vanilla, ripe kiwi, grass, and straw. The mouth on this viscous full bodied wine is lovely, with ripping acid, green apple, lemon friache, lovely tart fruit, quince, and grapefruit. The finish is long, rich, and layered with brioche, peach, more acid, slate, and mineral. Very Nice!
- 2011 Mia Luce Bianco – Score: A-
OK, I must say this is a wine that will create divergent opinions. It has funk and wet notes that many think are socks but are really just dried notes of the semillon. The wine is a blend of 93% French Colombard and 7% Chardonnay. The nose is sour with funky sock smell, lovely flint, mineral, and earth. This nose is truly old world with earth, dirt, mineral, and funk. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is unique to say the least with crazy quince, pink grapefruit, apple peel, all wrapped in a rich, viscous, textured mouth feel, that is combined with crazy acid, dried nectarines and orange pith. Many will have issues with this one, so serve carefully but enjoy!!!
- 2013 Tzora Judean Hills, White – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 86% Chardonnay and 14% Suavignon Blanc. The nose on this lovely wine shows rich toasty buttery oak with sweet Apple pie, mineral and roasted herb. The mouth on this wine shows its Chard leanings more now, with the SB taking a back seat, with a lovely round mouth, layers of Apple pie, brioche, and lovely ripping acid, pineapple, melon, mad mineral, pear pie, and tart green apple. The finish is long with layers of spice and tart Asian pear, lemon friache, with nutmeg and spice.
- 2013 Elvi Winery invita – Score: B++ (QPR)
Elvi continues to make wines that impress with a wine that shows a lovely nose of classic sb notes with grass and quince. Nice mouth with nice ripping pith, pineapple, guava, along with pink grapefruit, all showing well in the round mouth with honeyed notes, lemongrass and straw. The finish is long and sweet with honey and citrus pith.
- 2014 Ella Valley Blanc, Everred – Score: B+ (QPR)
This wine is unoaked and the entry level – the way I like it, and is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Sémillon. Tasting this side by side many other SB, you can tell how dry and wet grass this lovely wine is. The nose on this lovely wine starts to open with time to show honeyed notes, along with ripe fruit, crazy lemongrass, lemon friache and lime. The mouth on this nice, not complex wine is rich with nice acid, crazy rich peach, with apricot, pear, lime juice taking control with hints of quince and mineral and lovely structure. Long and spicy finish with mineral and pith.
- 2014 Tzora Judean Hills, White – Score: A- (and more) (Crazy QPR)
This wine is a blend of 86% Chardonnay and 14% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose is lovely with smokey notes, with peach, mad green Apple peel, with non sweet notes, creamy and buttery notes, lovely lemon and lemon grass. The nose is lovely, but the mouth is what makes the wine insane, what a mouth! The wine shows crazy acid, rich lemon, lovely apricot, green apple with insane saline, green olives, lovely quinine, with roasted herb. The finish is long and mineral, and richly salty with lovely lime, chalk, flint, and earth. Bravo!!!
- 2014 Galil Blanc de Noir – Score: B++
I have now tasted this wine three times, and it is here on the list because of its uniqueness and not its great value or quality, IMO. Yes, it is a nice enough wine, but there are many nice enough white wines in Israel. This wine sometimes shows very nicely with a unique mouth feel, and other times it shows off notes, dirty socks and the such. This has happened enough times that I must call it out.
The wine is a blend of 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Grenache. When it is on the wine is far more viscous and biting with its acidity, when it is off, it is just there and lacking the bite or the mouth feel. The nose on this light pink colored wine shows peach and flowers with violet, and smoke, flint, earth and garrigue and roasted herb. The mouth is medium in weight with nice acid, slight residual sugar, round and almost viscous, with good pith and good herb, tart fruit, and good acid, that is followed by grapefruit, gooseberry, quince, lemon, good viscous mouth, asian pear, and dried quince. The finish is long and spicy, with better acid showing over time, nice white pepper, lovely pith, and cloves.
- 2014 Midbar 55 White – Score: A-
The wine is keeping with the old names of the Midbar winery, but not its blend, with this wine being a blend of 55% Viognier and 45% Chenin Blanc. The labels and official kosher supervision may be new, but the ripping acid and unique flavors of the south are very much the same!
The nose on this lovely wine, shows mad spice, with a ripe fruit perfume, with lovely honey and quince from the Viognier and sweet yellow apple and candied pear from the Chenin Blanc. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely to start with ripping core acid, balanced perfectly with sweet southern Israel fruit, the peach and the apricot are classic Viognier flavors, along with the dried apple and lovely garrique and straw from the Chenin Blanc that calms down the sweet fruits. The finish is long and lovely with sweet/tart notes, nice acidity, floral notes and violets that cover the honey and orange nectar. Mineral and saline and acid lingers long. BRAVO!!!
- 2014 Midbar Southern Whites – Score: B++ to A-
The wine is a blend of 65% Chardonnay, 20% Viognier, and 15% Chenin Blanc. The nose on this lovely wine is dry with notes of ripe peach, floral, with honeysuckle, violet honey, with mad perfume, one of the real highlights of this wine. The mouth is well rounded and medium in weight, with perfect balance and acidity, with hints of oak rounding the mouth, searing puckering acid that lifts the peach, candied apple pie, nectarine, tart lemon curd, and quince – wow. The finish is long and acidic to its core, with floral notes and sweet herb demanding attention on the long and mineral finish. Bravo!
- 2014 Shirah Vintage Whites – Score: A-
This is the Weiss Brother’s third vintage of Vintage Whites and it may well be their best, fighting for best place between the 12 and this 14 vintage. This wine is a three way Rhone white varietal blend with 70% Viognier, 12.5% Marsanne, and 12.5% Roussanne. This blend again, is very reminiscent of the Recanati White RSR, though that one is aged in oak and it shows, while this one is fresh, bright, and lovely!Anyway – this is clearly a viognier wine, being 75% of the product, but the Roussanne is felt with the earth, clay, and garrigue. The nose on this lovely wine is richly perfumed with rich honeyed notes, along with ripe melon, pineapple, honeysuckle, fresh tart peach, flint, and ripe white plums. The mouth on this full bodied and oily textured wine is pure heaven, with a lovely good and expressive conflagration of sweet summer fruit from the Viognier fruit, including ripe apricot, violet, and Asian pear, with equally clear expressions of Roussanne showing in the orange pith, straw, slate, and mineral notes. The finish is long, tart, sweet, and bitter – all at the same time, with acid, nectarine, orange pith and almond notes lingering long in the background. BRAVO guys BRAVO!!! I want to note that there lacks the the ripping acid that I crave, but acid is clearly present and appreciated, but yes I could do with more. Still, the the pith and mineral make up for it!!!
- 2012 Roger Moreux, Sancerre, Chavignol, Bokobsa – Score: A- (and then some)
Well, the one bottle of the 2007 that I ever tasted was obviously a bad bottle. My friends who had subsequent bottles raved about it. Well, the 2012 should be available soon and it too is rocking! BRAVO!
The nose on this wine is insane, so redolent and perfumed with mad saline, earthy mineral, spice, lovely honey notes, melon, and quince. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is viscous and rich with spices galore, tart fruit, lovely acid, spiced sweet pink grapefruit, with nectarine, lemon citrus, tangerine, kiwi, gooseberry, and nutmeg. The finish is long and spicy with tart fruit, saline, mineral, slate, and endless tart fruit lingering long with hints of pith. BRAVO!!!
- 2014 Tabor Sauvignon Blanc – Score: A- (and then some)
The nose on this wine is a blockbuster and continues to cement Tabor as the QPR wine leader in whites and reds. The nose shows ripe gooseberry, cat piss, lovely tart fruit, lemon, and citrus creme. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is wicked tart, with ripping acid, lovely tart kiwi, summer fruit, along with crazy saline, mineral, all wrapped in tart fruit. The finish is long with green apple, straw, lemon, and more gooseberry lingering on the crazy long, slate, mineral, and acid finish – BRAVO!!!
- 2014 Gush Etzion Sauvignon Blanc, Lone Oak – Score: A- (and then some)
The nose on this wine is classic New Zealand in style, with ripping tart fruit, insane lemongrass, gooseberry, cat pee, along with saline, floral notes, and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is crazy with ripping acid, citrus, lime, yellow grapefruit, with saline madness, crazy acid, garrigue, litchi, and even more acid that just does not give up. The finish is long and spicy with mineral, rock, slate, and green apple – BRAVO!!!
- 2014 Yarden Sauvignon Blanc – Score: A- (and more)
The 2014 picks right up from where the 2013 left off, bracing acid and tart fruit. The nose on this wine is bone dry, with gooseberry, lemon, lime, cats pee, and nice green notes. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is rich, with crazy acid, bracing tart fruit, that gives way to tart green apple, white cherry, and nice herb. The finish is long and tart with layers of fruit and mineral, slate, green grass, and rock. A great balanced wine with what I love, acid, mineral, and tart fruit. BRAVO!
- 2013 Dalton Sauvignon Blanc – Score: A-
This is another lovely oaked Sauvignon Blanc that really works well. This was left in oak for three months. The nose on this lovely wine is perfumed with grapefruit, gooseberry, nice oak, and spice. The mouth on medium bodied wine shows lovely quince, great balance, guava, crazy pink grapefruit, citrus, rich tart apple, and lovely mineral. The finish is long and refreshing, with added complexity, rom intense citrus, mineral, saline, peach, and nice spice. NICE!
- 2013 Bat Shlomo Sauvignon Blanc – Score: A-
This is one old school Sauvignon Blanc kind of wine, it has a bit of tropical fruit, but this is clean and dry and more straw and earth than fruit, just the way I crave my whites! BRAVO!Also, if you unwrap the bottle to not be shocked by the stopper – it is a glass stopper that can be reused many times on other bottles, so do not toss them!!!The nose on this wine is ripping with citrus and acid, straw, asparagus, gooseberry, straw, hay, ripe peach, kiwi, and nice spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripping with lovely acid, more lovely spices, an almost pily and lovely textured mouthfeel, nutmeg, followed by yellow grapefruit, green apple, with crazy lemon, lemon curd, and pith that goes forever. This is a wine that perplexes and delights, it tastes sweet from the ripe fruit, but bone dry from the earth, mineral, slate, and overall makeup. The finish is long and pithy with great nectarine, orange notes and more pith wrapped with mineral, slate, and earth. BRAVO!!!
- 2014 Recanati Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B+ to A- (Very good QPR)
This is a new grape for the diamond series (what the series was called as the label showed Diamonds in the US but that is now dead with the new labels), now called Recanati series. The nose on this lovely wine shows classic SB notes, with cat piss, gooseberry, mad citrus, and apple. Wow, what a new world approach to this fruit, rich mouth of very good acid, with guava, sweet ripe notes, lovely pink grapefruit, melon, lovely mineral, and citrus pith that lingers long. The finish is super long and acidic with great slate, straw, wet green grass, ripe peach, and quince on the long rise of acid – BRAVO!!!
2013 Tzora Shoresh White – Score: A- to A
This wine was the clear winner of the tasting, maybe one of the best whites to be released by an Israeli winery. When I last tasted this wine the oak did not dominate the aromas, now the fruit is slightly subsiding on the nose and exploding on the mouth. The nose starts with crazy oak, pink grapefruit, green apple, smoke, flint and vanilla. Wow wow wow what an acid bomb, ripping acid that blows my mind, some of the deepest acid I have ever tasted from an israeli wine, laced with rich quince, mad tart citrus, lovely apple cobbler, hints of brioche that are now showing very well and integrated, candied pineapple, melon, all wrapped in a crazy body balanced and complex and layered – WOW! The finish is long and acidic with rich toast and mad herb, cloves, slate, rock, hint of vanilla, and butter – INSANE!
2014 Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc – Score: A-
I tasted this wine twice recently, and the first time was right after bottling, and the wine was in clear shock. The next time was a few weeks later and the wine was insane! The acid, mineral, and tart citrus fruit was exploding! Lovely!
The nose on this insane SB is redolent with mad citrus, mineral, peach, along with lovely floral notes, honeyed grapefruit, rose hips and violet. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is so crazy, it is pure lemon/lime citrus acid – insane! The mouth continues with ripe summer fruit, nectarine, clementine orange, and white jasmine. The finish is long, acidic, bracing and refreshing with melon, and hints of saline and slate. BRAVO!!
- 2013 Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon. The nose on this lovely wine is classic with fresh cut grass, intense gooseberry, floral notes, with piss, rich lemon, and grapefruit. The mouth on this lovely wine is ripe and mouth filling, with great ripping acid, rich mineral, lovely and focused with crazy grapefruit, lemon, lime juice, wrapped in crazy saline and rock. Very few have shown this amount of mad acid. The finish is long with intense spice, straw, nectarine, along with lovely peach, lemon pith, and nutmeg that lingers long. BRAVO!
2013 Sauvinyali Di Zimbalista (Sauvignon Blanc) – Score: B+ to A-
Very ripe nose with classic notes of gooseberry, peach and guava with and hints of kiwi. The mouth is ripping dry and crazy acid, with lovely lemon and wet grass, showing with crazy pith, lovely peach, with a nice dry fruit structure, nectarines and dry herbs. Long and dry pith finish, with straw, mineral, slate, and herb on the long pith finish
- 2014 Shirah Gruner Veltliner, John Sebastiano Vineyard – Score: A-
This is a lovely wine that comes from the Weiss brothers, AKA Shirah Winery, and it is so not Cali it is wonderful!!!! This may become my goto white when I am in the mood for cold fruit and mineral.The nose on this wine starts with cold summer fruit, along with mounds of mineral and dirt. With time, the nose turns to vanilla, smoke, and flint along with floral notes of rose hip. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich with Alsace style approach, mineral, slate, rock, dirt, and some very cold fruit, mad quince bomb with some pepper/spice/smoke, along with green apple as well, herb and hints of nectarine. The finish is long and dirty with lovely dark fruit pith, more floral notes, straw/hay, and hints of sweet fig. Lovely and Bravo!
- 2012 Quinta da Aveleda, Vinho Verde, Grinalda – Score: A-
What can I say – BRAVO! This wine remind me of a wine my friend Moises Cohen from Elvi Wines makes, called InVita. This wine is a blend of Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto Azal, according to the importer.The nose on this wine is redolent with pineapple, ripping lemon curd, spiced lime, and lovely green apples, along with beautiful slate and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied is almost oily and textured with sweet notes, followed by intense/insane ripping (truly ripping) acid, all wrapped in citrus bliss, nectarine, candied quince, and orange pith that lingers long. The wine is so spicy, acidic, and refreshing with sweet notes that linger long – LOVELY!
- 2014 Makom Grenache Blanc – Score: A-
The nose on this lovely wine picks up from where the lovely 13 left off, with ripe melon, grapefruit, kiwi, litchi, and sweet herb. The mouth on this wine is ripe and round, with great acid, mineral, lovely peach, and mad sweet citrus. The finish is long with bracing acid, showing lovely pith, spice, lots of dried straw lingers long with mineral and cut grass. Lovely!
- 2012 Dalton Semillon – Score: A-
To be honest there are few pure Semillon wines in Israel or elsewhere that are kosher. Midbar made some in the past, but not in 2014. Also, there was no Semillon made by Dalton in 2014 so get either NOW!!!
The nose on this gold colored elixir is beautiful with an intoxicating perfume of hay, peach, apricot, straw, and spice. The mouth on the medium to full bodied wine is rich, silky, oily, and mouth coating with a lovely attack and focus of tart fruit, citrus, grapefruit, sweet cedar, and lovely spice. The finish is long and bright, with great balancing acid, sweet quince, pear, mad tart fruit, mineral, and crisp tart citrus lingers long – BRAVO!!
- 2013 Yarden Viognier – Score: A-
A lovely nose of rich peach, apricot, intense floral notes, jasmine, and honeyed fruit. The mouth on this oily and viscous medium bodied wine, is perfectly balanced with wicked acid, mineral, and fruit, showing a lovely body, pear, rich honey, lemon curd, and summer fruit. The finish is long and bitter, with black tea, sweet herb, spice, hints of saline, mouth puckering acid, straw, and mineral. Lovely!
- 2013 Galil Viognier, Oaked – Score: B+ to A-
The nose on this wine shows nice stewed fruit notes, peach with rich herb, but really the star is the honey and the melon and apricot, and lovely oaked summer fruit. The mouth is well balanced with good acidity that really lifts the wine, but the star is the viscosity that coats the mouth, with peach, apricot, pear, and dry herbs, that are wrapped in sweet fruit and sweet oak. The finish is a lovely floral madness, that is followed by mad pith and rich spices, nutmeg and cinnamon. Nice.
- 2013 Yatir Viognier – Score: A-
Yatir has done it again, more old world, more dirty and dried fruit than sweet and ripe like the Yarden and Dalton 13. The nose on this light gold colored wine is rich with lovely peach, apricot, mad floral notes, along with yellow flower, and spice. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is viscous and oily with great texture, showing sweet pear, honey, and mineral. The finish is long and bitter, with great sweet tea, sweet herb, lemon pith, puckering acid bringing it all together, along with straw, and dried grass.
- 2014 Midbar Viognier, Single Vineyard – Score: A-
Nice perfumed nose with peach and apricot and honeysuckle and honey with sweet quinine. Crazy acid with mineral and sweet herb and guava and bitter notes wrapping the sweet Apple and honeyed and candied yellow plum. Long and super spice with rich layered of oak and spice and bitter notes and saline.
- 2013 Galil Viognier – Score: B+ to A- (crazy QPR)
What a lovely wine for the price and the quality is impressive. The nose on this wine is rich and ripe with sweet notes, spicy and honeyed notes, with crazy sweet honeysuckle and herb. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripping with nice acid, showing a great structure, sweet notes and lovely quince, rich peach, apricot, with floral notes, straw and mineral. The finish is long and spicy, with lingering acidity and pith.
- 2014 Galil Viognier – Score: B++ (solid QPR)
The nose on this wine is lovely with tropical fruit, rich honeysuckle, sweet melon, nectarines, and crazy ripe and sweet notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is viscous and oily with crazy peach, quinine, litchi, and kiwi. The finish is long with good acid and structure that lingers long, nice pith, and apricot that is wrapped in herb and bitter notes.
- 2014 Dalton Viognier – Score: A-
The wine was recently bottled and is very closed, but it is far more elegant and restrained than its 2013 older brother, whom in our last tasting was showing more oak than fruit. The 13 blip could have been a bad bottle and it is the reason why it is not on this list. Still, the 2014 is very impressive and will be here in the US very soon.
The nose on this gold colored wine is rich and honeyed with lovely elegant floral notes, honeysuckle, orange blossom, honey with peach and apricot. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich, viscous, oily, and layered, less tropical than in previous vintages, more restrained, with still tropical notes, guava, melon, and sweet oak showing in the body only, where it adds to the mouth’s volume and weight and not as a spice. The finish is long and sweet with candied herb, great balancing acid, mineral, and lovely citrus/orange pith. BRAVO!!!
- 2013 Kishor Viognier, Savant – Score: A-
The nose on this lovely light gold colored Viognier, smells more like a Gewurtz because of the soap than a Viognier, but with time the honeyed notes of peach, honeysuckle, and honey come out, along with sweet apricot and lovely floral notes. The mouth on this wine is actually quite lovely, and improves greatly with time, showing candied nectarine, lemon, grapefruit, and lovely tart acid, wrapped in a textured and velvety mouthfeel, that brings both sweet and tart notes along with good complexity, lovely acid, melon notes, and crazy pith. The finish is long and tart/acidic, with honey covered fig, quinine, and sweet spices. Bravo!
- 2013 Tabor Roussanne, Adama – Score: A-
This wine continues to excel after its inaugural release in 2012. This vintage is more grassy and herbal and straw/mineral driven, with rich notes and crazy redolent nose.The nose on this straw colored wine is redolent with fresh cut grass, well dried straw, mineral, peach, and litichi. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is layered and rich with a complex blend of lemon pith, dried herb, tropical fruit, guava, melon, and more dried vegetation. The finish is long and herbal with lovely good acidity, bitter/salty/tart action all coming at you at once, with sweet fruit, mineral, and straw lingering long. Enjoy this with BBQ chicken, summer salads, and soft cheeses. BRAVO!!!The bottle has lost no step, it continues to impress and show rich acidity, spice, and mineral.
- 2014 Recanati Special Reserve, White – Score: B++
I must say, this wine has never done it for me, any vintage, but it is here for completeness and because people really like it. To me, the quality to the price is underwhelming to say the least, and I have had older vintages of this with age and it still never showed really well to me. The price and the wine – are incongruent. The wine is a blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Marsanne. It is under Roussanne because it is majority Roussanne.
The nose on this wine is the freshest I have had to date, with fresh tart fruit, along with quince, lemon pith, and grapefruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripe and tart with gooseberry, sweet melon, apple pie, brioche, fig, and spice. The finish is long and tart and well balanced with peach, guava, ripe summer fruit, citrus, all coming to a pith/bitter finish. Nice!
- 2014 Tabor Riesling, Shahar, Adama II – Score: A-
The nose on this wine shows lovely petrol, with bone dry tart fruit, straw, honeysuckle, grapefruit, and pineapple. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and textured with great gooseberry, yellow grapefruit, intense citrus, lovely melon, honeydew, and nice warm spices. The finish is long with crazy acid, herb, bitter notes, intense tart fruit, floral notes, slate, and acid linger long. BRAVO!
- 2013 Carmel Riesling, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi – Score: A- (and more)
This may well be the best riesling out of Israel. The nose on this lovely wine is crazy, with petrol, rich notes of honeysuckle, dried green tea, and fresh cut straw. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is ripping with intense acid, lovely yellow grapefruit, lemon, tart green apple, sweet melon, pear, that flows into crazy mineral, spice, and garrigue. The finish is long and spicy with tart fruit, slate, and hints of bitter almonds.
- 2014 Hagafen White Riesling Dry, Rancho Wieruszowski – Score: A-
It is another hit for this lovely bone dry riesling. Ernie has been making them for three years now, with the 2012 being the inaugural release.
The nose on this lovely wine starts off with crazy melon, guava, mounds of tropical fruit, peach and apricot but kiwi and honey notes dominate. The mouth on this medium plus body wine has a nice almost viscous, but clearly mouth filling mouthfeel, with nice acidity, litchi, crazy mineral, saline, and great tart fruit. The finish is long and refreshing, crisp and intense, with nice mineral, slate and spice that lingers long. BRAVO!
- 2013 Hagafen White Riesling, Devoto Vineyard, Lake County – Score: A-
Depending on the year and release and the stock, there can be as many as 5 different rieslings sold by Ernie and Hagafen Wineries. There is the dry wine that started in 2012, and then there are varying degrees of residual sugar wines, including a couple of Prix wines and the three wines that come in the Hagafen label. This wine is a 2% residual sugar wine and it works great with sushi and asian dishes.
The nose on this wine is rich, honeyed, and sweet, with citrus, grapefruit, kiwi, litchi, and sweet honey. The mouth is rich with spice and sweet honey, it is controlled, clearly sweet but the bracing acid really helps keep the wine in balance, with crazy peach, tropical fruit, light tannin, and lovely sweet spices. The finish is long and refreshing with ripping acid, guava fruit, and nice mineral. Bravo!
- 2014 Tura Gewurztraminer, Mountain Vista – Score: A-
This is the first Gewurztraminer from Tura winery and what a hit it is! The wine improves greatly with time. The nose on this wine is so redolent with lychee, mango, guava, pineapple, lovely floral notes, jasmine, and sweet notes.. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is clearly sweet with residual sugar, showing well with good acidity, along with melon, rosewater, lovely nectarine, peach, and sweet white plum. The finish is long and sweet, with hints of orange pith, nice nutmeg, lovely honeysuckle, mineral, and honeydew melon that lingers on a long and lightly bitter finish. BRAVO!!
- 2014 Carmel Gewurtztraminer – Score: A- (QPR)
This is epic wow, a great QPR wine for sure. Another lovely ripping acid wine with good balance and sweet notes. The nose on this lovely wine has rich sweet notes, with rich honey and soap, rose hips and floral notes. The mouth on this wine is almost dry with nice structure, good acidity, rich and textured, with guava, pineapple, crazy honey notes, and honeysuckle. The finish is long with citrus pith, mineral, and rock. Lovely!
- 2013 Jerusalem Wineries Gewurtztraminer, 4990, Reserve – Score: A-
This wine was one that I had never seen before, but tasted it at Sommelier and really liked it. The nose on this lovely wine starts off with petrol and soap, followed by peach, melon, and sweet tropical notes. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is viscous with great oily texture, showing sweet ripe and tart fruit, quite nice, with kiwi, green apple, honeysuckle, floral notes, and lovely balancing and ripping acid. The finish is long and and layered and sweet with great fruit structure, spice, and pear. Nice!
- 2013 Eyal Gewurtztraminer – Score: A-
This particular Gewurtz is really unique and is made by a small boutique winery from its intense mineral that is really nice. The nose on this lovely gold colored wine shows rich guava, lemon, melon, and soap. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is the real star, it is semi-dry, with crazy layers of floral notes, rope petals, massive spice, grapefruit, along with rich honeysuckle, that flows into honeyed fruit, honeydew melon, and nice spiced peach. The finish is long and and sweet with great balancing acid, graphite (yes graphite), mineral, saline, and slate, and rock. BRAVO!
2014 Lueria Gewurtztraminer – Score: B++ to A-
The nose is classic with rich honeyed notes, ripe and sweet with ripe melon, pineapple, and guava. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is textured and mouth coating with sweet notes, but well balanced with ripping acid, candied apple, banana, but controlled behind a wall of sweet fruit, honeysuckle, lovely rose water, and nice sweet spices. The finish brings it all together with more acid, lovely pith, and sweet controlled fruit. Very nice!
2014 Tabor Gewurtztraminer, Adama – Score: B+
The nose is rich and honeyed with spice and herb, showing peach and apricot, with guava and wet grass. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely round and sweet, with honey and guava and mad spice, all wrapped in nice complexity with spice and nutmeg and candied pear. Lovng and spicy sweet finish with good enough acid, spices, and nutmeg.
- 2014 Matar Chenin Blanc – Score: A- (and a bit more)
This is the second kosher Chenin that I know of from Israel and it is very akin to the Netofa Chenin Blanc that we enjoyed here. The difference is that 50% of this wine was aged in oak for 3 months, while the rest was aged in steel. The nose on this wine is tart and rich with tart lemon, quince, apple pie (the pastry aromas coming from the oak), with lemon plum, and spice. The mouth on this round and full bodied wine is rich and oily textured, showing mad saline, mineral, slate, ripping acid, along with rich earth, lemon, nectarine, and spice. The finish is long and spicy with more mineral, cloves, white pepper, lemon grass, and roasted herb – DOUBLE BRAVO!! Outside of the 2014 Netofa – this Chenin is very unique and it does remind me a bit of the Netofa Latour without the oak.
- 2013 Matar Chenin Blanc – Score: A- (and more)
Lovely chard nose with charred and sweet notes of Apple pie, honeysuckle, melon, honey, spice, and mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is viscous with oak beefing up the wine, with quince, and butter notes, crazy nectarine, tart orange, and crazy spicy, rich oak and peach with mineral and nice acid that attacks with crazy fig and dried herb and pith. Long spice finish, with nutmeg, white pepper and nectarines pith and nice straw and slate. BRAVO!
- 2014 Domaine Netofa White – Score: A- (Crazy QPR)
I must say this is clearly the best Netofa white so far, and I hope they continue to impress! The wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from the slopes of Mount Tabor. The nose is redolent with rich and bright quince, straw, mineral, lemongrass, and wet grass. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely and rich mineral bomb, with more hay, spiced quince, now dry fresh cut grass, green apple, Asian pear, along with a crazy dry and insanely tart crab apple. The finish is long – spicy, dirty, and mineral based, with dry fruit, rich ripping acid, cloves, and nutmeg – BRAVO!!!
- 2013 Domaine Netofa Latour White (QPR) – Score: A- (and then some)
WOW what a nose! This wine is also 100% Chenin Blanc, but was aged in French oak for 7 months. The nose on this wine is equally redolent with crazy ripe quince, dry yellow plums, straw, with lovely dry grass, and white cherry. The mouth on this full bodied beast is rich, round, layered, and well spiced, with insane acid, creating an almost mouth coating feel, with all of that is lifted by the acid/spice/mineral mix, showing white pepper, baked fig pie, wrapped in a creamy texture with cloves. The finish is long with mineral, slate, saline, finishing in a crazy acid and mineral driven mouth coating mouth feel – BRAVO!!
- 2014 Midbar Chenin Blanc – Score: A-
This is the second of the two single varietal whites that Midbar released in 2014 (the other being Viognier). This is an unoaked Chenin Blanc, with nice sweet fruit, but well balanced with lovely acid and mineral notes. The wine was just bottled and was in shock and clearly closed, but with time the nose opened to show nice dried apple and herb. The mouth on this lovely wine was wide open with lovely acid that is balanced with sweet quince, sweet apple, and apricot that give way again and again to spice and searing acid, with straw, garrigue, guava and pear coming together nicely. The finish is long and spicy, with mad acid, rich nectarines, orange peel and pith lingering long. Very Nice!!!
- 2014 Dalton Pinot Gris – Score: A-
Nice nose of kiwi, green apple, ripe melon, pear, not too tropical at all, and lovely flint, smoke, and rock. The mouth on the medium bodied wine is ripe and tart with lovely acid, ripping mineral, saline notes, mad grapefruit, lemon friache, rich peach and cold quince fruit. The finish is long and smokey with more lovely mad saline, crazy mineral, floral notes, and crushed herb. BRAVO!
- 2012 Cave de Ribeauvillé Crémant d’Alsace Pinot Gris, Giersberger – Score: B+
This is an ok Pinot Gris but lacks the crazy acid and is a bit too “sweet” for me, listed here for completeness. No there is no residual sugar, but the sweet fruit annoys me. The nose is ripe with honey. honeysuckle, almond, dirty earth, loam, and ripe white white fruit. Too sweet for me, with ripe summer fruit, and rich fig. Nice enough, but stick with the 14 or 13 Dalton PG. The mineral is its saving grace.
I will admit that over time, the wine’s sweetness calms down, but when it does it tastes like a complex version of the blue bottle – which is not saying much.
- 2014 Lueria Pinot Grigio – Score: B+ to A-
This is the first vintage of this wine from Lueria and it is lovely. The only real con is the mad bottle variation this wine has. I tasted it three times, and others had it it many times and it is kind of hit and miss. Still, if it is a hit, it is crazy, unique, and very good!
The nose on this wine is insane – when right, with crazy flint and mineral and smoke with topical and banana and pineapple. Lovely acid and mineral and great slate with saline and lemon grass and peach with rich layers and acid. Lovely herbal and spice and herbed, lovely cat piss and gooseberry. A minus
White Dessert wines:
- 2013 Tzora Or – Score: A- and more
What a lovely wine made from “iced” Gewurtztraminer grapes that were picked late. The nose on this golden elixir is ripe with juicy pineapple, crazy sweet guava, melon, jasmine, floral notes, and an intoxicating perfume of tropical sweet fruits. The mouth on this full bodied assault vehicle is viscous, rich, mouth coating and crazy with an oily texture that coats along with honeyed fruit, honeysuckle, sweet white chocolate, white peach, and candied kiwi. The finish is long and well balanced and all together fantastic, with bracing acid, candied fig, and mineral, stone, and lovely pith – BRAVO!!!
- 2001 Chateau Piada Sauterne – Score: A-
The nose on this rich and candied funk wine is filled with lovely Botrytis (noble rot), along with oily richness, peach, guava, and sheer joy, with honeysuckle, baked apple, and lovely creme brulee. The mouth on this full bodied wine is filled with oily texture that coats and mesmerizes you, with more honeyed sweetness, along with concentrated orange juice, along with a controlled sweet sugared mouth that lingers long with white chocolate. The finish is long with crazy brightness that balances the sweet mouth, with more sweetness, honeydew melon, and mind blowing guava and peach pie – BRAVO!!!
- 2001 Chateau Guiraud Sauterne – Score: A- and more
This wine may not be as good as the world famous kosher 1999 vintage, which may well be one of the best kosher wines I ever tasted, but this is no slouch in any way! This was enjoyed side by side with the 2001 Piada and though the Piada is lovely, this crushed it.The nose on this golden and honeyed colored wine is ripe and sweet with quince, date, along with a round nose of perfumed funk inside a mushroom patch, along with honeydew melon, tangerino drink, and mad mango! The mouth on this insanely full bodied wine is filled with rich dried ripe apricot, peach, along with layers of concentrated, ripe, and dried fruit that hits you like waves of fruit, including candied pineapple, candied orange, lovely orange blossom, and vanilla! Mega Bravo!!!
- 2011 Gat Shomron Ice Viognier – Score: A- and a bit more
The nose on this golden colored wine with orange reflections, is insane and intoxicating with its perfume of sweet insane floral notes of jasmine, violets, along with grapefruit, melon, clear ripeness, and hints of green notes, yellow apples, and tangerine. The mouth on this full bodied sweet dessert wine, is oily and glycerol in texture, making for an insanely rich mouthfeel, filled with orange blossom, dripping candied honeycomb, all balanced with lovely acidity, and sweetness. The finish is long, oily, and mouth coating with white and yellow summer fruit, kiwi, honeydew melon, that lingers long with orange, and rose water! BRAVO!!
- 2008 Hagafen Sauvignon Blanc, Late Harvest – Score: A- (and a bit more)
The nose on this wine is filled with rich funk, lovely Botrytis (noble rot), along with oily richness, all wrapped up in a lovely bees nest filled with sweet dripping honey and tropical fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich, layered, and concentrated with oak tannin and sweet fruit mingling together to make for a great experience, more honey, guava, bracing acid that helps cut through rich desserts, along with pineapple, mango, and rich sweet candied peach. The finish is long, sweet, and funky, with more candied fruit and sweetness that adds to the wines weight and joy. BRAVO!!!
Posted on June 3, 2015, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher French Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher Semi Sweet Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine Tasting. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.