5th Annual Home Wineries Fair at the Sorek Winery
This was the fourth time I attended the home wineries fair organized by the Soreq Winery in Moshav Tal Shachar. Last year it was held on the same Friday as the Jacob’s Ladder Festival, so unfortunately I had to miss it (the kids wouldn’t hear of not going to Jacob’s Ladder). So my record is four out of five – not bad.
If you’ve read my past postings (here and here), you know that I particularly enjoy this event. The winemakers are all there; they are happy to tell their stores and they really want to know what you think of their wines.
According to the list, there were 20 wineries in attendance this year, and I managed to taste wines from most of them. Quite a few of the wineries have been at this fair in past years, and I was pleased and gratified that several of the winemakers actually remembered me (even more remarkable since I missed last year).
As in the past, I found that the overall quality of the wines has improved since the last time I attended. A good example is the Dani winery. I met Dani five years ago at the first Home Wineries Fair, and have tasted his wines over the years at each fair. While I like Dani very much, his wines were never quite to my taste. This year was a different story. Dani’s 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is full bodied and well integrated with a nice finish. It was one of my favorite wines at the fair and I gladly bought a bottle. At present, Dani makes about 700 bottles a year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he increases the quantity considering the improving quality of his wine.
Argov is another winery that participated previously. This year Argov brought three wines. A Cab/Merlot/Petit Verdot blend that I found very pleasant, a 100% Cabernet Franc that was a bit rough for my taste, and a 100% Petite Syrah varietal. As is characteristic of the variety, this Petite Syrah is quite powerful. Even after 18 months in new American oak barrels, the wine maintained its character beautifully and is not dominated by the oak at all. Apparently I am not alone in my opinion of this wine as it took a gold medal at the Terravino competition.
In recent years Carignan has been making a wonderful comeback in Israel. Carignan used to have a terrible reputation; it was mostly grown with very high yields and used to produce cheap barely drinkable wines. I used to call it Israel’s Dego red, because it was ok with spicy Italian food but not much else. Then, a few years ago, several winemakers discovered that old Carignan vines, when pruned for low yields, can produce some outstanding wines, and now there are several exceptional Israeli Carignans. At this years Home Wineries Fair there were no fewer than four varietal Carignans, and a number of blends containing various amounts of Carignan.
Among the varietals, my favorite was the 2011 Carignan from the Shakutai Winery in Mazkeret Batya. The grapes are from old vines in the moshav, and although the wine is relatively young, it is eminently approachable, with medium body and finish. At NIS 50 I consider this wine a good deal.
Of the blends with Carignan, I was particularly impressed with the flagship Hamivtsar blend from the Mivtsar Atlit Winery, comprising 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% each Shiraz, Carignan, and Petit Verdot. To me, this was one of the best wines at the fair. Despite the unusual blend of varieties, Hamivtsar is a very well integrated wine with no overpowering flavors and a very long and very pleasing finish. I considered this a good buy at NIS 70 so I took two. Mivtsar Atlit was also at the Home Wineries Fair two years ago, but I wasn’t able to taste their wines that time as there was nothing left by the time I got to their table. This year I arrived early and I’m glad I did.
The only Kosher wines I tried at the fair were from the A.G. Winery. I had tasted and enjoyed their wines of earlier vintages, so I was not surprised that I liked them a lot this time too. This year A.G. brought three blends from their The Vines series, all of which won silver medals at Terravino. My favorite was the 2009 The Vine Aroma, an 80/20 Cabernet/Merlot blend, aged for 24 months in oak. Full bodied with very well integrated tannins, this wine is a perfect match for the best steaks. The only thing that kept me from buying a bottle was the price; at NIS 120 it was just out of my budget.
The only white wine I found this year was a semi-sweet Viognier from the Mor Alon winery. While too sweet for me, I’m sure this Viognier will appeal to those who prefer their whites not so dry.
The turnout for this year’s Home Wineries Fair seemed quite a bit lighter than in past years; I suppose it had to do with the hot weather, though I must say that I hardly noticed the heat. For those of you who stayed home because of the heat – your loss. I had a great time. I certainly hope next year’s Home Wineries Fair will again be scheduled on a date that works for me.
As always, many thanks to Nir, Inbar, all the winemakers, and everyone who once again made this event so much fun.