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.