Yossi’s Wine Page

My Rainy Friday Morning at Tulip

Those of you who follow this blog know that my postings are few and far between. The reason for that is that I spend quite a bit of time trying to keep my calendar of wine events and wineries map up to date. My day job also takes up way too much time, and by the time I get home I’m usually not inspired to write.

But today I am inspired.

This morning I went to the Tulip Winery for a rare vertical tasting of their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, including wines from Tulip’s 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 vintages, the last two being barrel tastings. (The 2012 vintage was all sold out, so not available for this vertical tasting.)

The weather today is rain, rain, and more rain, with a touch of hail thrown in for good measure. As a result, the turnout at this event was light, but those who did show up were genuinely interested in learning about the wines, as was I.

I have been visiting Tulip for many years. Originally I was not terribly impressed with their wines, finding them too fruit forward and one dimensional for my taste. But time has a way of changing things, and in this case the changes are on two fronts.

First of all, Tulip has made a concerted effort to move away from the style of their wines of yesteryear to wines of greater elegance, depth, and character, with restrained fruit and no jamminess. Roy Itzhaki (Tulip’s founder & CEO) explained some of the changes Tulip made to achieve the more elegant style:

  • Irrigation: Irrigating at higher intensity but lower frequency increases the depth to which the water penetrates into the ground. That way more of the roots get water, but the total amount of water used for irrigation remains the same.
  • Vineyard density: Vineyards in Israel are generally planted with some 200-250 grape vines per dunam, while the density in Tulip’s newer vineyards is about double that. The yield per vine is low, but the total yield per dunam is higher. More importantly, at the higher density the grapes ripen differently, and the resulting flavor profile is more complex and interesting.
  • Fermentation: Tulip now ferments their wines at lower temperature and longer duration. This preserves some of the lighter aromatic compounds that would otherwise be driven off during higher temperature fermentation.

Of course, there’s more to it than that, including barrels specially designed by Tulip, different yeasts for the fermentation, and undoubtedly many more factors I can’t even imagine. The bottom line is that Tulip’s wines have become much more to my taste.

And then there’s the effect of time on the wines themselves. When I first tasted Tulip’s  Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the early vintages of this decade, I didn’t care for them at all, as they were overly fruity and aggressive for my taste. But time does wonders, and now these wines are delightfully laid back.

So which wine did I like best? I would have to say it was a tossup between the 2014 and the 2011. The 2014 is lighter and fresher while the 2011 is more complex. Roy said that if he didn’t know better he’d think that the 2011 was a Bordeaux style blend, and I agree with him.

The oh so young 2017 has marvelous flavors and I have a feeling it will be a real winner when it comes out. I suppose I’ll just have to wait a couple of years to find out.

And for those of you who are fans of Tulip’s Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, you might want to start stocking up. Roy told me that from now on Tulip will be cutting back on this wine, with most of it tagged for the export market. Apparently he’s got plans for some new wines up his sleeve. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, Tulip holds interesting wine events on a regular basis (find them on my calendar and Tulip’s Facebook page).. I go when I can, and I learn something new each time.

Shabbat shalom.

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19th Annual Judean Hills Wine Festival and Fair: Nov 2 – 25

Time again for the long awaited 2017 Judean Hills Wine Festival.

Judean Hills Wine Festival 2017 - banner

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Wine or Beer?

Dina, my wife, is Swedish. As her English is outstanding there was never any reason for me to learn Swedish. Nevertheless, a few years ago I thought it might be fun to learn a few words so we could converse without the kids understanding us, and so I’d be able to manage a bit better when visiting Sweden. So I bought a cheap self-taught Swedish course on eBay and started listening to the lessons in the car on my way to work. It turns out that this course featured choice phrases like “would you like to go back to your place or mine” making it ideal for guys trying to pick up Swedish women, but other than that it was not particularly useful.

So what has this to do with liquid libations? Well, one of the phrases in the course that struck a chord with me was Vill du dricka vin eller öl which means, Would you like to drink wine or beer?

It so happens that wine and beer lovers alike have reason to rejoice, as Israel’s largest wine and beer tasting events are taking place next week (Sommelier is arguably the largest wine tasting event, but it is geared to professionals rather than the public). Read more…

18th Annual Judean Hills Wine Festival and Fair: Oct 27 – Nov 19

Fall has arrived, the 2016 grape harvest is behind us, and the holidays season will soon be a memory. Fortunately the festivities will continue with the Judean Hills Wine Festival.

judean-hills-wine-festival-2016 Read more…

June 2016 Wine Events

Lots and lots of wine events this month, including many that are part of the Wineland Festival in the north, and quite a number (especially white wine events) celebrating the Shavuot holiday.

Click the calendar below to see what’s doing. I’ve been getting a lot of event notifications in the last few days, so check the calendar regularly for updates.

Also check Israel Preker’s calendar in Hebrew for events I might have missed.

Lots of good wine in lovely settings all over the country, so take advantage of the wealth and variety of events and enjoy!

Jun 2016 Wine Events

Pesach is Coming

Lots of wine events last weekend in the run up to Pesach, and even more over the coming weekends.

If you’ve got time between Pesach cleaning, and fancy some relaxation with wine, check out my calendar of wine events. With so many wineries around, there are events in the north, south, and center.

Pesach 5776 Wine Events Calendar

There are even a few events during Pesach this year, notably the Netofa Exodus from Egypt Celebration and Salute 2016 at Neot Hovav.

So take a break from cleaning and go have some wine.

Wine Jerusalem 2016 – March 9 & 10, 2016

On March 9th and 10th A. A. Pyup Wine & Spirits will be hosting the 5th annual Wine Jerusalem kosher wine festival at Jerusalem’s Binyanei Hauma. This is the single largest wine festival in Israel featuring only kosher wines, and is a must for wine lovers who only drink wines with kosher certification.

According to the official announcement, almost 40 wineries (including liqueur and cognac producers) will be participating. Here’s the latest list, but last minute changes are not uncommon.

Abouhav
Arza
Barkan
Bartenura
Binyamina
Carmel
Dalton
Ella Valley
Galil Mountain
Golan Heights
Gros
Gush Etzion
Gvaot
Har Bracha
Hevron
Herzog
Jerusalem
Lavie Liqueurs
Louis Royar
Martini
Meron
Mond
Montefiori
Morad Liqueurs
Netofa
Odem Mountain
Psagot
Rubin
Segal
Sha’al
Shiloh
Schmerling’s Liqueurs
Tabor
Tanya
Teperberg
Ventura
Yatir

Some of these wineries, including Gros which is rather new, and Ventura, which has one of the best Chardonnays I’ve ever tasted, exhibit only rarely, so this festival so a good opportunity to meet the winemakers and sample their wines.

Several of the participating wineries will be launching new wines at this festival. In addition, a number of wineries will open a few bottles of their older cellared wines and special edition wines. these include

  • Hevron Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
  • Tanya Techelet 2014
  • Psagot Edom 2013
  • Psagot Cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyard
  • Gvaot Blanc 2015
  • Gvaot Gofna Cabernet Franc 2014
  • Abouhav Almaya 2014
  • Galil Mountain Yiron Sirah 2005
  • Galil Mountain Meron 2007
  • Galil Mountain Meron 2009
  • Galil Mountain Meron 2011

Festival attendees are also invited to participate in free workshops. Details will be added when available.

All of the wines (with the possible exception of some of the special edition and older wines listed above) will be on sale at the festival with a special buy 3 get 1 free deal.

The festival will run from 17:00 – 23:00 each day. Admission costs NIS 90 and includes unlimited tastings, a wineglass to keep, a bottle of San Pellegrino (to rinse your mouth between tastings) and free parking. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

Additional information (Hebrew only) is available here, or call (02) 581-1122.

If it’s not good enough to drink …

There are two kinds of cooking wine. The wine you drink while you’re cooking and the wine that actually goes into what you’re cooking.

The advice “If it’s not good enough to drink it’s not good enough for cooking” obviously refers to the latter (since the former is drinking).

Some months ago a well-meaning guest brought a bottle of a recent vintage supermarket wine from a major winery, and of a series that I generally avoid. While I have found some quite respectable wines at the supermarket at very attractive prices, there are some I eschew, and this was one of them.

One day after work a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give it a try. All I can say is that it was quite vile. I had expected a shallow flat wine with no body or character, but this was bitter and undrinkable. Ever the optimist, and always curious, I stuck a vacuum stopper in the bottle and waited a couple of days. By this time much of the bitterness had dissipated, but the wine had already started to go sour.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to preparations for Shabbat dinner. Dina had bought short ribs, and wanting to prepare them in the slow cooker she asked me for some cooking wine. I told here there were a few open bottles in the pantry and to take whichever she wanted.

As luck would have it, Dina picked the aforementioned terrible wine.

Wonder of wonders, the short ribs were absolutely marvelous; I can’t remember having better.

Would the ribs have been even better cooked in a Kayoumi Shiraz? I suppose I’ll never know.

In the meantime, I, for one, have no problem cooking with wine that’s not good enough to drink. As long as I get to drink something else while I’m cooking.

Sign Up!

A couple of weeks ago, while much of the world was celebrating Christmas, the Netoafa Winery was throwing a kick-off event for members of the winery’s Netofamily Club.

It was a beautiful Friday morning, and when we arrived Yair (CEO) was already grilling some of his excellent homemade sausages in the winery’s courtyard.

20151225_111557a Read more…

A Busy Weekend

Anyone reading this probably knows very well that the weekends leading up to Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Year) and Pesach (Passover) are laden with wine events. All the wineries want you to buy their wines for the holiday feasts, and many of them have tasting events to lure you in. The problem is that so many of the wineries have their events at the same time, making it impossible for us enthusiasts to attend them all.

I had a plan, and surprisingly I actually managed to stick more or less to it, fitting in eight events starting Thursday evening and ending Saturday night. My schedule wasn’t even too rushed, as it was my great fortune that many of the events were quite nearby. I even managed to get in a 10 km run on Friday morning! Unfortunately I missed the Chillag Rosh Hashana tasting (not nearby), so I’ll have to make up for that another time. Read more…

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