Tzora Vineyards Winery continues to impress
As I have been posting so far, I enjoyed my last trip to Israel and Europe, and I am almost done with my Israeli winery posts. Last we left off, I was talking about – Domaine du Castel Winery. However, that was the third winery that we visited that day – the third of the four wineries that make up the Judean Hills quartet, three of which are kosher. We visited all three of them on that Friday, and in this post, I will cover the second of those three – that one being Tzora Vineyards Winery.
Judean Hills Quartet
I have already posted here about my appreciation for the Judean Hills quartet, I think what they are doing is great and is the correct way to go after the gaping sinkhole in what some would call Israeli wine education. They happen to also be some of the best wineries in Israel, which is a blessing. Who would want Yarden pushing their date juice and declaring this is the future of Israel’s wine revolution?? Instead, you have wineries like Domaine du Castel Winery, Flam Winery, and Tzora Vineyards, along with a winery I wish I could enjoy, though sadly it is not kosher – Sphera Winery – run byDoron Rav Hon, who made some of the best Chardonnays and Pinot Noir in Israel when he was in Ella Valley – those were great days!!
Tzora Vineyards Winery
As we arrived that morning, Eran Pick was busy crushing the last of his red grapes – the Petit Verdot. The last grape that Tzora takes in is the late harvest Gewurztraminer that is used in the making of the lovely Or wine – that is “frozen” late harvest Gewurztraminer.
Of course, you all know my great affinity for all things Tzora Vineyards! It is clearly one of the top 3 wineries in Israel and one that continues to focus on old-world style wines in the new world and fruit forward crazed wineries of the Holyland.
If there is a winery that gets terroir in Israel it would be Tzora. I wrote about the late founder, Ronnie James, who sadly passed away in 2008. He saw the power of terroir in Israel. He understood what vines to plant where and why! It was his passion and belief that great wines could be made in Israel, that continues to fuel Eran Pick MW (Master Of Wine), the head winemaker and General Manager of Tzora Vineyards and the rest of the winery, forward. I love that the winery is defined by its vineyards both in name, Tzora Vineyards and in reality! I have had the honor to meet with Mr. Pick many times at the winery now, and each time it is always a joy to see how the winery continues to grow leaps and bounds above the rest of Israel’s date juice producing masses. For the few that can understand the quality and beauty of Tzora’s wines, there is a treasure to be reaped for sure! Here is a winery that cares, and does not sell out to the million bottle siren and the date juice wines that it demands.
It had not been long since I was last at Tzora Winery, but there were new wines to taste, the newly bottled Misty Hills and the 2016 whites, as well. Sadly, as stated, Mr. Pick was busy with the last of harvest, but we still had the chance to taste the wines with him, as he came to talk to us for a few minutes, and he even threw a few barrel/tank tastings in as well. Once again, the winery put out these incredibly fragile and lovely wine glasses, from Zalto – just to make sure we were on our toes during the tasting and very careful!
The wines continue to be imported by Skurnik Wines, who has been importing Tzora wines for many years now, and they have all of these wines in NYC, even the shmita wines! I continue to buy from NYC, either kosherwine.com or Gary at Taste Co – email him at email@example.com or call at (212) 461-1708, even though Skurnik has set up a west coast operation.
As always, Tzora Winery has three labels. The first is Judean Hills with two wines under it, a red blend and a white blend. Next is the Shoresh label, it also has a red blend and a white wine as well, that is pure Sauvignon Blanc. The Shoresh brand also has the dessert wine called Or. Finally, there is the flagship wine – Misty Hills.
We were a large group that descended upon the winery, AO, JK, and his wife, OM, MB, and myself. We had the chance to taste through the current wines plus two extra older library wines, and some early barrel tastings, but I did not post those as barrels are for Eran to work with, I normally only write notes of bottled wines. Last time we were at the winery was in March, and we tasted many great wines – and we did taste a few of those wines again, along with the now bottled 2015 Tzora Misty Hills, and some library wines.
The tasting consisted of the newly released 2016 whites along with two library wines and the now bottled 2015 Misty Hills. It was great to taste the 2013 Shoresh white, it is a wine I had not tasted in some time. The wine showed how much it can change is so short a time. The last time I tasted it was already past its oaky start, showing crazy acid and lovely brioche. Now, the wine is balancing out very well, showing a balance between oak, fruit, and mouth texture – impressive. It is so vastly different than the 2016 vintage which shows far less oak. I asked Mr. Pick when he was so kind to join us, and he agreed that indeed there is less oak showing on the 2016 Shoresh white, but he said rest assured it is there and may well come out with time. The other library wine was the 2012 Tzora Shoresh Red. It was beautiful and showing very well.
Also, we got to taste the 2015 Misty Hills that was now bottled and what a joy it still is. Sure, it is a bit sweet still, but showing impressively and proof that even in a horrible year like 2015 – a great winemaker can indeed make great wine! Bravo to Eran Pick!
My thanks to Mr. Eran Pick and the winery for a wonderful tasting. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2016 Tzora Judean Hills, Blanc – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose on this wine is lovely, with peach and green apple with great yeasty notes and a bit of grapefruit. Nice medium weight with good acid and attack showing good citrus, pear, with baked apple and brioche, balanced and controlled with good structure and spice, this is less about the oak and its influences and more about the fruit. The finish is long and citrusy, with great creme brulee, mineral, with citrus pith, and lovely green notes lingering long. Nice! Drink by 2019.
2016 Tzora Shoresh, Blanc – Score: A-
The best Sauvignon blanc nose in 2016, hands down. What a joy, pure gooseberry a true joy, with cats pee, straw, hay, followed by passion fruit, and green notes galore. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is lovely, showing little to no oak, with epic control, not anything like his previous oak driven Shoresh whites. This is still 100% Sauvignon Blanc, but it is a dead ringer for New Zealand from Israel, with pure fruit, green notes, with hints of guava, lovely green apple, tarragon, lemongrass, all wrapped in a great mouthfeel. The finish is long and well balanced with lovely peach and hints of nectarines! Bravo! Drink by 2021.
2013 Tzora Shoresh, Blanc – Score: A-
This is a 100% Sauvignon Blanc wine. The nose on this wine is beautiful, just lovely, showing a perfume of green apple, peach, lovely sweet oak, followed by green notes and rich earth. The mouth is beautiful, rich and layered, with funk galore, dry straw, rich acidity that is perfectly balanced with rich salinity, lovely hints of nectarines, with rich grapefruit and lovely yellow apple, rich green foliage and dry yellow plum, all wrapped in a mouthfeel and mineral core – bravo! The finish is long and green and perfect in its harmony, not too dry and not over acidic, perfection with floral hints and sweet grapefruit, with Lemondrop, and brioche that lingers long. Lovely! Drink by 2019.
2015 Tzora Shoresh, Red – Score: A- (shmita wine)
This wine is a blend of 47% Syrah, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 14% Petit Verdot.
The nose on this wine shows lovely blue and red fruit, impressive mineral, earth, graphite, intense floral notes, with spice and roasted herb. Lovely medium body wine, with great acid, lovely balance, with draping tannin, showing lovely earth and roasted meat, with good cloves and pepper, showing nice ripe fruit, with blackberry, along with a nice viscous mouthfeel, and more herb. The finish is long and spicy, with chocolate, coffee, and showing pith and lovely lingering mineral. Drink till 2020.
2012 Tzora Shoresh, Red – Score: A-
This wine is evolving beautifully, it shows a rich perfume of mineral, graphite, with initial hints of mushroom, foliage, with black and red fruit in perfect balance. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is rich and layered with rich minerality, lovely red fruit, lovely mouth coating and not overly extracted, but still showing rich tannin that gives way to ever present graphite and scraping mineral, with red and dark fruit blackberry, currant, with rich earth and loam. The finish is long and green with foliage, lovely tobacco, showing sheer elegance, and rich sweet green notes. Bravo! Drink till 2022.
2015 Tzora Misty Hills – Score: A- to A (shmita wine)
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah. The wine’s name is a tribute to the morning mists that often lie upon our vineyards. These mists form as warm air from the Mediterranean collides with cool air descending from the mountains. This wine is aged 24 months in French barrels and it is not the oak that impresses you, it is the elegance and makeup of the wine that makes you take notice.
The wine is now in the bottle and it still tastes like no other Misty we have ever tasted, even than the 2011 Misty. The grapes for this wine were pulled a bit earlier than Mr. Pick dreamed, but given the choice of rain and dust or cleaner grapes, he chose to pull them when he did. The wine is leaner and drier than anything he has ever made and will be a fascinating experiment for the oenophiles out there that crave his wines. Will they like this style of wine more than the rich, draping, and yet fully controlled 2014 Misty? Only time will tell! This wine tastes like a 2012 Saint Emilion still, 2012 was a riper and more accessible vintage in France and this wine is almost accessible now as well.
The nose on this wine is incredibly old-world, with impressive notes of cherry and earth, with red fruit, lavender and lovely roasted animal, licorice, with herb galore, and mineral. This medium-bodied wine really shows like a merlot, and nothing like a 75% Cabernet wine, showing with crazy earth, elegant and yet rich, not showing ripe still at this time, actually the fruit is tart and expressive with currant, dry raspberry, all wrapped in an impressive and lovely mouth draping tannin, true elegance, with an expression that says Bordeaux with class, followed by forest floor, rich saline, mineral, and mushroom. The finish is long and green finish, with foliage, truffles, tobacco, menthol, mint, and dirt. BRAVO!!! Drink from 2018 to 2024.
2015 Tzora Or – Score: A- (shmita wine)
This wine is an “ice wine”, it is made of 100% late harvested Gewurtztraminer, and then brought to the “lab” to be frozen by hand and then pressed weeks later. This wine is lighter than previous vintages, it is a bit more tropical, but otherwise, akin enough to previous vintages, just with a lighter body.
What an enjoyable nose this wine has, with lovely funk, honeysuckle, and honeyed notes, showing lovely floral notes, rich jasmine and orange blossoms, and ripe pineapple. The mouth on this less viscous and medium-bodied wine shows rich sweet guava and spice, lighter than previous vintages, but still showing great balancing acid, hints of mineral, white peach, and apricot with controlled sweet notes, lychee, and orange tea. Nice! Drink till 2021.
Posted on November 16, 2017, in Israel, Israeli Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Uncategorized, Wine, Wine Tasting, Winery Visit and tagged Blanc, Judean Hills, Misty Hills, Or, Red, Shoresh, Tzora Winery, Winery Visit. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.