Yossi’s Wine Page

Archive for the month “September, 2014”

16th Annual Judean Hills Wine Festival and Fair

While not so common just a few years ago, wine festivals now abound in Israel. And though there are several regional wine festivals that take place annually in various parts of the country, I believe the Judean Hills Wine Festival, now in its 16th year, is senior among them.

Certainly this is my favorite regional wine festival in Israel, partly because of the warm friendships I’ve developed with quite a few of the winemakers, and partly because I particularly enjoy wines made from Judean Hills grapes.

In any event, though details are still sparse, this year’s Judean Hills Wine Festival has been announced, and the published dates are for the weekends between 23 Oct and 20 Nov 2014. Seeing as how 20 Nov is a Thursday, this seems a bit strange and I will try to get clarification. Check back for updates.

Judean Hills Wine Festival (23 Oct - 20 Nov 14)

The festival will kick off on October 23rd with the traditional wine fair, beginning at 19:30. The fair will be held again at Mini Israel near Latroun, as it was last year. Most, of the Judean Hills wineries will be participating in the fair, where they will be pouring their newest wines for your tasting pleasure. In the past, the admission fee got you a glass (that you get to keep) and unlimited tastings (but don’t get carried away: tastings are for tasting not for putting on a buzz  – for that you should buy a few bottles). I imagine this year will be the same.

I have not yet seen a list of participating wineries, nor have I seen any information about ticket prices, advanced ticket sales, etc. I will post updates if and when I have any new information to share.

Judean Hills Wine Fair (23 Oct 14)

On the four Fridays of the festival – Oct 24 & 31, Nov 7 & 14 – there will be organized bus trips to wineries in the area. Each trip will visit three different wineries. Space is limited, so if you are interested, call 02-990-0903 or 1-800-800-242 0r *8108 for information and to make reservations.

During the weekends of the festival most of the Judean Hills Wineries are open to the public for visits. It’s always a good idea to call a winery before visiting, especially on Shabbat, since some of the kosher wineries will be closed. Most of the wineries are listed, with contact information (just click on the winery) on this page of the tour-yehuda website.

The tour-yehuda website has a map of the Judean Hills Wineries, but it appears to be a bit out-of-date, and the legend showing the winery names is missing. As an alternative, have a look at my Google map of wineries in Israel; most of the Judean Hills wineries are there, with contact information.

Check back here or at the tour-yehuda.org.il and m-yehuda.org.il websites for more information and updates.



A Wine to Watch

Last Friday I went to the annual pre Rosh Hashana tasting at the Poizner Winery in Zikhron Ya’akov.

Yoav Poizner, the winemaker, produces some 2,500 bottles a year, all from the family’s own vineyards where they grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Carignan, and Malbec. (Yoav claims that Poizner’s Malbec is the oldest in the region.)

Poizner’s philosophy is to produce wines that suit the Mediterranean climate, so none are terribly heavy or overpowering. All the wines I tasted are quite nice for the warm weather, despite their high alcohol content (~14 – 14.5%), and probably wouldn’t mind being served slightly chilled.

The wines presented at the event were:

  • Merlot 2009 (with 5% Malbec)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (with a bit of Petit Verdot and Malbec)
  • Syrah 2010 (with a bit of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 2010 Milack Valley (Wadi Milek) blend (45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, and 5 % Malbec)

All of the wines were rather pleasant, and to my surprised I actually preferred the Cabernet Sauvignon over the others, as it exhibited greater complexity.

The Merlot was unusual in that it was not at all overly fruity, and the Syrah surprised me by being rather one dimensional. The Maleck Valley blend was nicely balanced and remarkably light.

After trying the “official” wines of the event, Yoav let me sample the 2011 blend, which is in a stainless tank just waiting to be bottled. This unusual blend of Carignan, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Malbec is altogether different from the 2010, and is by far the most enjoyable Poizner wine I have had to date. The flavors are intricate and nicely balanced, the tannins are smooth and well integrated. And with light to medium body I believe it will go well with a wide range or foods, while standing quite nicely on its own as well.

Release of the 2011 blend is scheduled for Pesach 2015, and I intend to be at the front of the line to get some.

Wishing everyone a year of peace, health, fun, happiness, and of course, lots of good wine.

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