Yossi’s Wine Page

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

4 June 2011 – Kantharos Winery

Wineries are everywhere.

For example, last week Dina and I visited the Kantharos winery located in the basement of a private house in a quiet Rosh Ha’ayin neighborhood.

I tasted and enjoyed Kantharos’ wines at the recent Home Wineries fair (see my 29 April posting), but by the time I was ready to make a purchase (I prefer to do that at the end so as to avoid carrying bottles around), they had packed up and gone home. My fault since it was already way past closing time.

Since Kantharos has a Carignan that I particularly liked (not many of those around) I decided that I’d have to visit the winery in order to pick some up. So after having called in advance to coordinate, we stopped by. We were greeted at the door by Danny Lefen, who, with his partner Eytan Lifshitz, founded the winery in 2005 after taking wine making courses at the Soreq winery and the Tel Hai college.

Kantharos is a small operation, producing under 1000 bottles a year. At the moment they’re making two varietals – Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignion. The Carignan grapes are from the Givat Ada area near Binyamina (grown by a relative of Danny’s), and the Cabernet are from Kerem Ben Zimra and the Ella Valley. The wines are all aged in new and used French oak barrels anywhere from 1-1/2 to over two years.

At the Home Wineries fair I had tasted Kantharos’ 2007 Cabernet and 2009 Carignan, both of which I enjoyed very much. During our visit Danny gave us barrel tastings of 2009 and 2010 vintage Cabernets. I think the 2009 will be excellent, but I’m still not able to tell with a wine as young as 2010. I suppose I’ll have to go back next year to try it again.

As you can see in the picture above, the winery isn’t very large, and storage space is limited, so Danny and Eytan are keen to sell current stock to make room for the new bottlings. Prices are very reasonable, so I recommend scheduling a visit. If you’re lucky, you’ll also be offered a taste of Kantharos’ port style wine, which is aged in used oak barrels for a minimum of three years.

Call or email Danny or Eytan to schedule a visit.

Danny Lefen                            Eytan Lifshitz
(050) 432-2527                       (052) 521-2050
daniel@lefen.co.il                     eytan@kantharos.biz

And if you’re feeling under the weather, when he’s not making wine, Danny is a practitioner of Chinese medicine and he might just be able to fix you up.

29 April 2011 – 3rd Annual Home Wineries Fair at the Sorek Winery

The home wineries fair organized each year by the Soreq Winery in Moshav Tal Shachar has become one of my favorite wine events of the year.

Being exclusively for small home wineries, only those with an annual production of 5,000 bottles or less are invited to participate. While the proprietors of these wineries certainly don’t mind selling a few bottles, the emphasis is on exposure to the wine community and hearing the reactions of the attendees.

According to the list given out at the entrance, 26 such wineries were there this year. Even though I arrived earlier than in past years, I only managed to visit and sample the wares of 16 of the wineries, despite spending four hours and staying until there was almost no one left. While other people quickly taste a wine or two and move on the next table, I am interested in hearing about the wines, wineries, and winemakers, and the exhibitors are generally only too happy to indulge me. As a result, I ended spending an inordinate amount of time at each table.

A number of wineries I remembered from last year’s event participated again this year, and I was pleasantly surprised that some of the winemakers even remembered me. As I took along my notes from last year I was able to compare in those cases where the same wines were being presented. For one wine, a Cabernet-Merlot-Petite Sirah blend from the Sikra winery, last year I wrote “Needs more time,” and this year that wine is markedly more drinkable.

At most wine events, I try to try the whites first, but this year I didn’t find any. Rather a shame as the weather was hot and a refreshing white would have been most welcome.

While making my rounds I took notes and marked those wines I was interested in purchasing. Unfortunately, most of the wineries had packed up and gone home by the time I went back to buy.

Considering the legibility, or lack thereof, of my notes, I won’t try to describe the wines. These, in no particular order, are the ones I liked the most.

Zeev Winery – Alma 2009 – a blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot

Gatot Winery – Noya 2009 – a blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot

Domaine Herzberg – Reserve 2009 (K) – a blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec

Domaine Herzberg – Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (K)

Kantharos Winery – Carignan 2009

Kantharos Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Tamir Winery – Blend 2007 (K) – an unusual, unoaked blend of Sangiovese, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, and Merlot

Tamir Winery – Blend 2009 (K) – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I must visit this winery.

Montag Winery – Shiraz 2009

A.G. Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2009 (K)

Araleh Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz 2009

As you can see, I was impressed by more wines this year than in the past, even though I missed quite a few of the offerings. Clearly Nir Shacham and the other teachers are succeeding in their training of new wine makers.

You can also see that there is an increase in the use of Petite Verdot, which is rather fortuitous for me as I am definitely a fan of this variety.

Most of the wines were reasonably priced in the NIS 40- 70 range, but some ran as high as NIS 100, which is too much in my opinion.

Major thanks and credit to Nir Shacham and his team for continuing to put on and improve this most enjoyable event, and for providing the very useful tasting notes cards, a welcome addition this year.

To find out about next years Home Wineries Fair as well as other events at the Soreq winery, visit Soreq’s website and send a message asking to be added to their mailing list, or send an email to winery@soreq.co.il.

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