Red and White Wine Bar of Jerusalem and Yaacov Oryah Winery

The next wines that I enjoyed on my last trip to Israel and Europe, are made by the ever capable Yaacov Oryah (head winemaker at Psagot Winery) and we tasted his wines at one of the newest hip kosher wine bars in Jerusalem – the Red and White Wine bar – kitty-corner from the beautiful Mamilla hotel (8 Shlomo HaMelech Street at the corner of Yanai Street).

I was traveling to Jerusalem after visiting Gvaot Winery and I was talking with Yaacov Oryah about where we could meet to taste his wines. We were supposed to meet in Psagot Winery, where he is the winemaker, but things came up at the winery and there was no open space that was available for us to sit and hang. I was traveling to Jerusalem anyway, and I recommended that we meet somewhere in Jerusalem, and Yaacov suggested that we should meet at the Red and White wine bar.

Now, I had never heard of this wine bar, and that is shame on me because Sarah Levi had already covered the bar in this lovely piece in early April 2017. The wine bar is one of those few bars that is very particular about what wines are served on their menu. They have top flight wines from Castel, Flam, Gvaot, Adir, Psagot, Matar, and Yaacov Oryah. Of course, not everyone is on the same page as I am, so they have wines from other Israeli wineries, but the majority are wines I would drink! They also have great food, his menu consists of omelets, cheese, and butter (from Naomi Farm in the Golan), great bread, fresh pasta, and fish dishes. However, do not forget the great dessert options as well!
The overall feel of the bar is old school, but equally current, with a bartender that understands food, service, and wine are all intertwined into a single vision that is focused on people first, wine and food second. The bartender is the owner, sommelier, coffee bean roaster, the cheesemonger – Mark Arnold Jam. If you ever get the chance to sit down for an hour in this lovely place you will quickly find that his last name equates well to his musical tastes. Mark gets the vision and he is a one-man show that weaves poetry, music, an old school vibe, and great food and wine knowledge into the ideal renaissance man at your service!

Red and White Bar - behind the bar

I arrived after parking my car in the Mamilla parking lot and making my way across the street and walked into the bar, and I immediately walked over to the two wine dispensing machines and the wine fridge. The bar has a huge fridge in the back of the bar and it was stacked with lots of great wine. The bar also has two dispensing machines each stacked with eight wines, at reasonable prices and backed by Mark’s great wine knowledge.

Once I finished perusing the wines, Yaacov arrived with boxes of his wines to taste and it was off to the races. We sat down at the bar and I tasted through the wines as I peppered Mark with questions, and though he is the classic Renesaince man, he is very humble and really wanted to let the bar and the atmosphere speak for itself. About halfway through tasting the wines, I started to nibble at the bread and butter and they were both very nice. The cheese looked good, but I stuck with the bread and once we were finished I tasted some of them and they were all very impressive, but I was in a rush after that and needed to get to the Kotel and then to the wine tasting at DD’s house – which will be the focus of the next post.

My many thanks to Yaacov Oryah for allowing me to taste all the current wines and to Mark for letting us spend some time in his lovely wine bar! The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2014 Psagot blanc de blanc – Score: NA
This wine is still a few years from release, but already it is showing great potential. The wine needs more time on the lees to come together, but it is tart, bright, and starting to get some complexity. The nose on this wine is lovely with rock, limestone, with rich saline and green apple. The mouth shows nice acid, great minerality, lemon fraiche, with gooseberry, kiwi, and lychee, all wrapped in nice small mousse bubbles. Nice.

2009 Yaacov Oryah Emek Hatzayidim (Hunter Valley) Semillon – Score: A-
The nose on this wine is lovely, with rich honeysuckle, dry straw, grapefruit, and lovely minerality. The mouth on this wine shows a rich and acidic core, with white peach, rich lemon Fraiche, crazy rich slate, mineral, dry straw and dry kiwi all wrapped in an incredible fruit focus that is really all about the perfect balance of acid, mineral, saline, and slate. The finish is long and tart with green apple, yellow/pink grapefruit, and green notes, tart notes lingering long. Bravo. Drink by 2019.

2016 Yaacov Oryah Light from Darkness (Blanc de Noir) – Score: A-
This is a white wine made from Yaacov Oryah’s Rhone varietal vineyard, using Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvedre. The juice of the grapes was pressed out of the grapes with no skin contact. The juice of red grapes is clear until it is left to macerate with its red skins.
Really a fun and unique wine never had such a wine showing red fruit notes in a white wine, showing grapefruit, sour cherry, rich mineral, yeasty notes with lovely minerality, green olives, and saline. The mouth is well integrated with lovely acid, rich peach, lemon and grapefruit with tart citrus, dried orange and more saline and slate galore, with nice pith on the long finish. Bravo! Drink by 2018.

2014 Yaacov Oryah Alpha Omega – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of Semillon, Viognier, and Roussanne. Officially this an orange wine, as the juice (wine must) sat on the grape skins for 72 or so days. However, the color is far more golden than orange. The wine has evolved since the last time we enjoyed it, and it needs less time to fully open in the glass.
The nose on this wine, is rich, layered and truly hedonistic, with waxy notes, paraffin, with lovely orange, nectar, honey, and cherry blossom notes! The mouth on this medium bodied wine is layered and complex with lovely acid, viscous mouthfeel while staying crisp and bright – which is where this wine truly differentiates itself from oaked chards, showing lovely dried mango, candied melon, with sweet quince and candied pith. The finish is long with still nice acid, tart fruit, with hints of tannin, green tea, honeysuckle, mad candied tangerine, and vanilla lingering long. Bravo! Drink by 2019.

2016 Alpha Omega Jemma, brut – Score: A-
This wine is another style of orange wine, less orange this time and more unique, it is made from 100% Semillon. The wine was made for a restaurant.
Lovely nose of rich funk, with hints of sherry, along with lovely dried flowers, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, showing white chocolate, white truffle, and rich dried lychee. The mouth is layered and rich with crazy acid and lovely white cherry, ripping saline, rich funk, with lovely dried apricot and peach with smoke, white pepper, slate, and cardamom lingering long. Bravo! Like I said a unique wine that should be tried at least once if not more often. WOuld be great for a bowl of pasta and white bechamel sauce. Drink by 2019.

2014 Yaacov Oryah Claro – Score: A-
This is a wine made for a restaurant called Claro. This wine reminds me of the 2013 Netofa Red, side by side I would have a hard time picking one from the other. The wine is unoaked and it a GSM with some Barbera for acid and PS for color and tannin.
The nose on this wine is now showing more roasted meat on the nose with floral notes, blackcurrant, ripe blueberry, bright and dirty. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely and deeply acidic with lovely smoky, roasted meat, spice, blackberry, goji berry, with lovely mineral. Long and tannic finish with ribbons of harsh mineral, graphite, and lovely blue fruit lingering long with pith. Drink by 2020.

2015 Yaacov Oryah Claro – Score: B+ to A- (shmita wine)
In many ways, this vintage follows the 2014 vintage in style, notes, and approach, which is incredible given all the issues that vintage had. The reason? Oryah pulled the fruit early before all the madness descended upon Israel – good things come to those that pull early! This wine is a GSM blend with Barbera for acid and PS for color and tannin, and a drop of Cinsault.
Though it mimics the 2014 vintage in many ways, it is a bit redder than the bluer 2014 vintage. The nose starts off with rich smoke, roasted animal, lovely rich cherry, with blackberry, blueberry followed by more smoke with rich earth. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is a mineral heaven, with graphite that is more under control than the 2014 vintage, with lovely saline, black olives, balanced well with good fruit, rich blackberry and blue fruit that is balanced with heady spice. The finish is long and mineral-driven, with nice graphite, blue fruit, and lovely pith! nice! Drink by 2019.

2014 Yaacov Oryah Eye of the storm – Score: A-
This wine is a GSM, with Cinsault, Petit Syrah and Barbera as well. It is a field blend from Oryah’s vineyards in direct proportions to the vineyard’s yield.
The wine is more Shiraz than Syrah is style, showing lovely floral notes, and leaner wine style, with red fruit and blue fruit galore. The nose on this lovely GSM, starts with floral notes, a very impressive lean wine with rich sour cherry, dry candied lifesaver, with intense acid and rich mineral, lovely saline, and great focus, with searing acid and mouth coating tannin, balanced well with rich spice, heady cloves, cinnamon, and violets. The red cherry fruit lingers long on the finish, with graphite, rich herb, sour notes and more spice. Bravo! Drink by 2021.

2015 Yaacov Oryah Eye of the storm – Score: B+ to A- (shmita wine)
This wine is a GSM, with Cinsault, Petit Syrah and Barbera as well. It is a field blend from Oryah’s vineyards in direct proportions to the vineyard’s yield.
While the 2014 vintage was a lean machine with sour notes galore, the 2015 vintage is a riper wine that shows more black fruit than on the 2014 vintage. The nose on this wine is ripe and sour at the same time, which gives a differing approach than the 2014 vintage, with searing acid, lovely sour notes, floral notes that are just starting to open up with rich red fruit, dark cherry, candied raspberry, and earth. Backed with black fruit, black plum, and cassis, and spice galore. Nice! Drink by 2020.

2014 Agur Karka – Score: A-
Eran Pick from Tzora Winery planted Oseleta grapes in 2009 and he was interested in using them in Tzora’s wines. In the end, the grapes did not work for Tzora, so Agur started to use them and this is the wine that was made with them.
Interesting nose of dark cherry, currants, rich licorice, and nice earthy and good spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice with good ribbons of mineral and graphite with bitter notes, that gives way to more mouth coating feeling as it ages or opens in the bottle, good acidity and great fruit focus that is backed by ripe red fruit, along with dark plum, nice sweet spices, nutmeg, earth, and dry flowers. Overall this is a well-made wine, balanced and biting, and yes it has bitter notes – I like that but some have issues with it. Nice! Drink by 2021

NV Yaacov Oryah Old musketeer – Score: A- to A (Shmita wine)
This is the most unique dessert wine I have ever enjoyed. No, it is NOT a sauterne and it does not have any of the botrytis funk, but what it lacks in terms of terroir and environmental impact, it has in spades with regards to technical makeup and impressive patience. This wine was made in the sherry wine style, using the solera technique (a fractional blending system from different age-scales of stacked barrels), which takes forever to get to its full potential. As the wine ages in the barrels its slowly consumes the oxygen and oxidizes the wine slowly, this slow oxidation also makes sure that the wine itself will never further oxidize and makes for a wine that is close to indestructible.
This wine is made from a blend of late harvest Muscat of Alexandria and 2015 chardonnay that was added in later on to give the wine its incredible balance and acidity. The nose on this wine is almost worth the cost of admission (which I must say is high indeed) showing a crazy nose of caramel, dried nuts, candied walnuts with white chocolate, dried flowers, candied grapefruit and yellow peach. The mouth is richly balanced and lovely with really intense mouth coating sweetness that is both incredibly oily in nature and one that glistens in the glass with legs that go on forever, But it is also perfectly balanced by great acid with rich spices, spicy oak, with candied pear and lychee, really nice. The finish is long and never ending with a sweetness that is perfectly balanced and NOT cloying. Bravo!! I am not sure if this wine has an end date, but for now, a drinking window I can think of is: drink by 2040.

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Posted on October 24, 2017, in Food and drink, Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Restaurant Review, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. A wonderful venue with lots of fine wine; could always use a few more patrons.

  1. Pingback: Kosher wine tastings in Jerusalem | Wine Musings Blog

  2. Pingback: A Shabbat in Jerusalem with epic old world wines | Wine Musings Blog

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