3 June 2010 – Judean Hills Wineries Fair at the Jerusalem Botanic Gardens
Not being able to attend this event last year I was particularly looking forward to this year’s fair. In particular I wanted to try wines from some of the Jerusalem area wineries that I have not visited recently or at all. I was, therefore, somewhat disappointed that Clos de Gat, Mony, Tzora, Flam, Ella Valley, and Karmei Yosef were not in attendance. On the other hand, two wineries – Bar Giora and Nevo – were completely new to me. All in all, about 12 wineries were represented.
The Jerusalem Botanic Gardens, with its picturesque pond, was a lovely setting for the event, and the weather was agreeable too, being not too warm after a rather hot day. The setup, however, left something to be desired, with all of the winery tables located in close proximity to each other. Spreading the tables out into the area near the pond would have alleviated the crowding.
Aside from many interesting and enjoyable wines, it was fun to meet friends that we don’t see often enough.
We were very pleasantly surprised to see Shlomi & Hila Tzadok of the Ben-Hanna winery since we had been told that they would not be exhibiting. Shlomi makes an outstanding varietal Petit Verdot, but there was none left by the time we got to their table. Apparently someone bought the lot early on. Fortunately there was still some of Shlomi’s Shalem, a Bordeaux style blend that goes down easy and asks for more.
Yossi Yitach of the Katlav winery has also become a good friend over the years, and we received a warm welcome from him along with generous tastings of his Wadi Katlav blend that Dina & I both like very much. Yossi’s wife Malki had also come along for the fun, and we were delighted to see her.
Unfortunately Avi Yehuda was down with a bad back that evening, but his good friend Yossi Shtieber stepped in to man the Yehuda winery’s table. Dina & I are big fans of Avi and his wines, so we tasted a bit even though we are quite familiar with them. From the 2007 vintage my favorites are the Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Shiraz blend and the varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2007 Shiraz is also delightful, and much lighter than the sublime 2006.
As I reached Sea Horse’s table, Ze’ev Dunie greeted me with “No more Take Two.” Take Two, a blend of Zinfandel, Primitivo, Carignan, and Petite Sirah, was my favorite from this winery but it’s not available any more. Instead I sampled Ze’ev’s new Roman blend of Grenache, Sirah, and Morvedre. It’s different from anything I’ve had before and I rather liked it.
We also got a warm welcome from Shuki Yashuv of the Agur winery. Every year Shuki makes a red blend that he calls Kessem, and every year it’s a bit different. The 2008 Kessem is a Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. It is lighter in body than previous vintages of this wine, making it ideal for warm summer evenings. I did not try Agur’s Blanca and Rosa wines this time as I am already familiar with them and can wholeheartedly recommend them. The Blanca, a blend of Viognier and Riesling, is particularly nice.
These are the other wines that I found particularly interesting or enjoyable.
Anatot Sangiovese 2007 – A most interesting wine and one of the few of this variety that I have found in Israel. My feeling is that this wine still needs some time for the flavors to integrate. I would also like to try it again with food since I have a feeling that a hearty meal would bring out this wine’s character.
Nevo Chevoux 2007 is a very enjoyable Cabernet Sauvignon. This was my first encounter with the Nevo winery but it surely will not be my last.
Sternbach Nahal Chaklil 2007 – A medium bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with soft tannins. A nice red for the warm weather.
Tzuba Metzuda 2006 – A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. So far this is my favorite wine from Tzuba, although I have yet to try their Shiraz.