2013 White Wine Fair at the Herzlia Marina
Last year the White Wine Festival at the Herzlia marina was held on the Fourth of July, so I considered it an appropriate celebration even though there were no fireworks and no orchestra playing the 1812 Overture. This year it was moved up considerably; I’m guessing the reason has to do with promoting white wine sales before Shavuot. Makes sense since whites generally go better than reds with the dairy foods that are consumed in quantity for that holiday. Of course there are plenty of reds that go nicely with dairy dishes as well, especially those that are generously seasoned or dishes made with mature flavorful cheeses. Also the weather was quite hot last July adding to the allure of the white wines, and this year it was rather coolish in the evening.
I arrived at the event early armed with the wines list that the Grape-Man website (a sponsor of the event) was kind enough to furnish online. This was supposed to make it easier for me to efficiently find and try the wines that interested me the most. To some extent it worked, but I still ended up staying later than planned.
Since I work in Herzlia Pituah, I arrived on foot, and when I had my fill I walked to the Herzlia train station to go home. very convenient.
It seems to me that there were fewer Israeli wineries represented than last year and more imports. Last year I was rather impressed with some of the imports, but this year I found the Israeli wines to be superior. As an example, I really liked the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, but this year I was not so impressed with it. It was not unpleasant, but there was nothing remarkable about it either.
While on the subject of Sauvignon Blanc, I was also disappointed by the 2010 from Gush Etzion. This has been my favorite Israeli SB over the past few years, but this time I found it to be too fruity and not very refreshing. Several days after the festival I opened my last bottle of this wine at home and found it to be considerably more to my liking. Whether the difference was me or the wine I cannot say. Also, this wine, as with most of the variety, is really intended for early drinking, so it may have already been past its prime.
My favorite Sauvignon Blanc of the evening, and one of the most enjoyable wines overall, was the 2012 offering from the Ella Valley Winery. Crisp, grassy, bone dry, and extremely refreshing, it’s just the way I think Sauvignon Blanc should be.
The best value for money of the evening, IMHO, was another Sauvignon Blanc, this one a Barkan Reserve. At ~NIS 40, this light and refreshing SB is a bargain, and I plan to pick some up next time I see it on the shelf.
While still on the subject of value for money, I was impressed with Tepperberg’s quite decent 2010 lightly oaked (6 months in used barrels) Chardonnay. I was told that it can be had at three for NIS 100 when on special. I have had significantly poorer Chardonnay, including some at this event, that cost a good bit more.
In addition to their SB, I also tried Ella Valley’s 2011 Chardonnay. This wine was surprisingly light and fresh tasting even though 50% of it spend 13 months in new French oak. Unfortunately it lacked the body I look for in a Chardonnay, and had very little finish.
The most interesting wine of the evening was the Tavor Adama Viognier 2012. This wine has a very rich mouth-filling character, and despite being unoaked I detected a carameliness too it. Although alcohol content was very high at 15.4%, the wine was not at all harsh or medicinal tasting.
Also quite interesting was the Tavor Adama Roussanne 2012. Roussanne is anew variety for me and I seem to remember having it only once before. Tavor’s entry is slowly fermented at 12 – 13 °C for three weeks “in order to retain the unique characteristics of the grape and its region of cultivation” (according to Tavor’s website). In any event, the wine had a pleasant aroma that I could not identify, a pleasantly herbaceous flavor, and a bit of a finish. I rather enjoyed it. Again, alcohol content was high at 14%, though nowhere near the 15.4% of the Viognier, but not terribly noticeable.
I tried two Rosé wines during the evening, one from Ella Valley and the other from the 1848 Winery. While I heard extolling the virtues of the Ella Valley Rosé, I rather preferred the 1848. Very dry, lightly fruity, and eminently drinkable, this wine will be a good match for any number of dairy or poultry dishes, and at NIS 60, it won’t break the bank.
At the Midbar Winery table I tried their 2010 Semillion-Sauvignon blend. I found this to be a very pleasant summer sipping blend, light in body but not thin. Interestingly I found this wine rather different in character from the white wines of the now defunct Asif winery, even though they are made by the same winemaker.
The last of the Israeli wineries was Ferency. Not so well know yet, Ferency is located in Bat Ayin near Gush Etzion. A couple of years ago I visited Ferency; I was rather impressed with their Sauvignon Blanca and ended up buying some for my son’s Bar Mitzva. At the festival Ferency presented a Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc blend that I found pleasant but lacking in character. Ferency’s wines are made from their own organically grown grapes.
Of the imports I particularly enjoyed the Lagar de Cervera, Albarino 2011 Rioja. Very dry, crisp, and refreshing, I think I would enjoy it with a delicately flavored fish like trout, though it was really quite nice on its own.
To round the evening out I stopped at the Buster’s table and tried the dry version of their very enjoyable hard cider. I also managed to get a glass as a souvenir.
As at many such events there were several cheese and chocolate tables offering their wares for tasting and sale. I did buy some cheese though I passed on the chocolate this time.
Of course I ended up staying at the festival later than planned, and I had to run much of the way to catch the late train home. Even so, I “only” managed to taste about a third of the wines. Maybe next year I’ll have to go both nights.