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Purim 2008

This Purim I drank wine with friends on Thursday night and at Friday lunch.  After all that, Shabbos was a nice break from wine.  Thursday night I did not take notes.  So these are more memory of what I tasted than actual facts.

Thursday Night:

Rothberg Cellars Pinotage 2004 – This wine exhibits classic Pinotage stylings with a bit of tannin and spicy oak.  The nose was flush with cherries and red fruit.  The mouth was medium bodied and fruity.  The finish was medium long and had a bit of spicy oak.  An OK attempt at a Pinotage – I liked the Welnerberg Pinotage 2005 more, but that is my take.

Cantina Gabriele Sangiovese 2005 – This wine is a classic fruit bomb, and a bit too much for my taste.  The saving grace was that it had enough oak to dull the fruit but it had a bit more tannin than I was expecting.  The tannins actually accentuated the fruit bomb – almost making it worse.  To that I will say that this wine has a chance to age a bit more and maybe calm down.  The fruit forwardness of the wine is evident from the nose – filled with cherries, cherries, and more cherries.  The mouth was medium – full bodied with sour cherry and briar.  The finish is very long with more sour cherry.

Monte Olivo Umbria Rosso 2005 – This wine was a real winner.  Huge nose and an awesome specimen.  For being a house wine this is a real winner.  The wine is reasonably priced to boot.  The wine has a wonderful nose of blackberry and tobacco.  The mouth on this full bodied wine was fruity but the tannins have yet to integrate, but the mouth coating wine will be better over time for sure.  The mouth is filled with blackberries and cassis, the finish is long and loaded with oak and tobacco.

Friday Lunch – with real notes:

Bashan Merlot Eitan 2005 – Score: B+
The nose on this mature garnet colored wine is filled with blackberry, old socks, oak, vanilla, and sour cherry.  The mouth on this medium bodied wine has nice integrated tannins, vanilla, black fruit up front and then a medium finish that is filled with a spicy oak finish.

Bashan Cabernet Sauvignon Eitan 2005 – Score: A-
Notes still hold true to my tasting that we had in Israel in the Bashan Winery.

Mount Meroma Cabernet Sauvignon 1993 – Score: B-
This one was definitely passed its time.  It is a shame because it was ready to go about 5 years ago.  The crazy thing about this wine was 10 minutes after it was opened, it was gone.  Nothing left.  These notes are right when it was opened and seems to have been from its last gasps of life – if that :-).  The nose on this almost brown colored wine has light aromas of oak and red fruit.  The mouth on this medium – full bodied wine has integrated tannins, dirty socks, oak, and raspberry.  The finish was almost non-existent, but had hints of vanilla and mint.

Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve Napa Valley 2002 – Score: A-
The nose on this garnet colored wine was packed with blackberry, cassis, figs, and oak.  The mouth on this full bodied wine starts with well integrated tannins, than the blackberry, cassis, and sweet wood mingle together into a complex blend that is quite intriguing.  The finish is medium long with tobacco and sweet oak.

Bashan Winery in the Upper Galilee

Bashan Winery

Bashan Winery

This small and new winery in the Upper Galilee has been the talk of the Upper Galilee since its inaugural 2004 release.  Why you may ask?  Well like all these small wineries popping up across the beautiful expanse of Israel’s landscape – this winery is a boutique winery that produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Port like wines.  But what makes this winery so very special – is that it is 100% organic.  Organic wines have been gaining in popularity for some time now.  To explain briefly there is a difference between organic wine and wine made from organically grown grapes.  The major difference is sulfites.  Wine made with sulfites cannot be deemed organic.  However, the grapes can be organic as long as they follow Agrior’s guidelines for growing wine grapes.

So what is Sulfites?  They are nothing more then a preservative for wine.  They were added into wine staring in the last century or so.  Before then people got along fine without using them – why?  Because sulfites occur naturally in wine.  The extra sulfites one may add allow for the wine to stay on the shelf or in the cellar longer.  So most wine makers that bottle organic wine will say that white wines should be drunk within the year and within the day of opening it.  Red wines have a bit more life to them – 5 years or so, as sulfites are far more prevalent in red wines.

Many wineries have wines made of organically grown grapes – this is a trend that according to Uri Rapp (one of the owners of Bashan Winery) is growing.  Grapes that make up Yarden’s Odem Chardonnay are grown organically, and so are many more.  Why?  Uri says because it is healthier for the land, the people who tend the land and finally – the people who enjoy his wine.

We met Uri at the winery on a cold winter day.  He explained that the idea for a winery started in 1999 between himself and the other owner of the winery – Emanuel Dassa.  In 2000 they planted 20 dunam of grapes close to the winery in Avnei Eitan.  The vineyards are rich in basaltic soil and have an elevation of 450m.  Of course to grow the vines organically – no pesticides, chemicals, or fertilizer.  Only organic products are used in maintaining the vineyards, and Uri hopes that this attention to the land and the vines, will allow his children and grand-children to harvest grapes from these very vines for a long time to come.

The winery is a converted milking shed from a dairy farm that Uri helped run until 2001.  After that Uri turned his attentions to wine making and built the winery with proper equipment for fermenting, aging, and bottling wine.  Currently production is at around 7,000 bottles with plans to get that number up to 80 thousand bottles.  It is this hands on approach and the attention to detail that has many people talking about the winery and about the future of organic wines and vineyards in Israel.

We would like to thank Uri for his hospitality and time when visiting his winery.  Following are the tasting notes which we sampled at the winery.

Bashan Cabernet Sauvignon Eitan 2005 – Score: A-
The nose on this electric Bordeaux red colored wine is filled with figs and black fruit.  The mouth of this full bodied wine has ripe raspberry, sour cherry, and oak notes.  The finish is long and satisfying.  The tannins balance well with the acid and allow the fruit to come through in the finish.

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