Yossi’s Wine Page

Archive for the month “March, 2011”

March 20, 2011 – Our Annual Purim Visit to Somek

A favorite stop on our annual Mishloah Manot delivery run is the Somek Winery in Zikhron Ya’akov. This year we arrived in the early afternoon, and the visit was a welcome break from driving.

The first thing I noticed was a shipment of new barrels. They looked larger than standard barrels, and Barak Dahan (half of the husband and wife team that owns and runs the winery) explained to me that they had a 300 liter capacity, as opposed to the more common 225 liter barrels. The larger barrels have a lower surface area to volume ratio, which reduces the effect of the wood on the wine. The winemaker can then use new barrels a bit more than used ones without having the wood overpower the wine. That’s the theory anyway, though I’m not sure how much difference the jump from 225 to 300 liters makes (with really huge barrels, like the 5200 liter monsters often used for Brunello, the difference is apparently quite significant).

After delivering our Mishloah Manot, Barak treated us to some of  his excellent 2008 Chardonnay. I have written about this wine before so I won’t repeat myself here. I’ll just say that it was ideal for Sunday’s warm weather.

Then we got to try Somek’s new 2008 red blend, simply called Adom. This wine is a curious blend of Syrah, Carignan, Malbec, and Morvedre (40%, 30%, 15% & 15% respectively), though you won’t find that information on the label. Barak and Hila (the second half of the partnership) wanted to create a particularly Mediterranean blend, and that’s what they came up with. Since they grow many varieties, they had lots to choose from, and I understand that the blending process was long and enjoyable.

Barak and Hila have a philosophy of selling wine that’s ready to drink as soon as it is sold, which is why the wines they usually sell are at least one vintage older than those sold by many of their colleagues. I was therefore rather surprised that Somek released a 2008 red wine this early. I needn’t have worried. The Adom blend is young and fresh tasting, and though it is a bit rough on first attack, it grows on you very quickly. It’s a very mouth filling wine with lots of flavors, and all in all very enjoyable. And as it is rather young, it is also less expensive than Somek’s other reds. Needless to say, I bought a couple.

Somek’s wines are available only at the winery, which is open most days. Visitors are welcome and it’s a good idea to call ahead just to make sure someone’s home.

March 19, 2011 – Future Wines at Yekev Soreq

Today we visited the Soreq Winery at Moshav Tal Shahar for the first day of their future wines tasting and sales.

On offer were two new wines – Shiraz 2010 and Petit Verdot 2009.

Both wines are 100% varietals, and both are made from grapes from prime vineyard regions. The Shiraz grapes are from Safsoufa in the north (near Kerem Ben Zimra), and the Petit Verdot is from Moshav Mata, not far from Tal Shahar.

Since I have a cold, I’m not tasting things so well, but I could still tell that the Petit Verdot is something special, and Dina agreed. At the futures price this wine is a steal (especially since there’s an additional case discount) and it didn’t take us too long to decide to buy a case.

This is the second Israeli varietal Petit Verdot that I like, the other being from the Ben Hanna winery. Not surprisingly, the grapes come from the same place.

The Shiraz was not so much to my taste, but considering how young it still is, I doubt that my impression is particularly valid. I have not yet developed the ability to evaluate the potential of such a young wine.

Nir Shaham, the winemaker, was also offering three very young wines directly from the barrels, at the bargain basement price of three for NIS 120. The wines were bottled on the spot for each purchase. The three wines are a Viognier, a Rose, and a Cabernet/Merlot blend.

Viognier is a particular favorite of ours, though this one was a bit too fruity for our taste. If you like your whites very fruity, this is a wine you should try. The Rose (essentially a Cabernet Blush) had a pleasant off-dry character with a lovely hint of strawberries in the aroma. I also liked the red blend, which will be a perfect everyday wine once it settles down a bit.

These wines are bottled without any preservatives, which will appeal to those of you who prefer their wine “all natural.” As a result, these wines should be consumed early; Nir recommended keeping them for no more than half a year.

Along with the futures and young wines, Soreq’s “regular” wines were also available at discount prices.

Soreq will be continuing the futures tasting and sales next weekend (March 25-26), and I definitely recommend going if you can.

I also asked Nir whether he would be holding the home wineries fair again this year, and he said it was planned for late April, after Pesach. This is also an event not be missed, as you can see from past postings.

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