Yossi’s Wine Page

A Perfect Friday

Last Friday was definitely a fun day.

I woke up shortly past dawn and went out for a 10 km run. Ok, that wasn’t so much fun, but I feel good knowing I’m doing something good for my body. At least I hope it is. And I listen to terrific music while running (Traffic, Joe Bonamassa, Albert Cummings, Queen, The Who, The Doors … you get the idea), and that makes it a good bit more enjoyable. Also, I run in the fields of Binyamina, among the fruit orchards and the many many vineyards. The smell of the peaches is delightful, and the vines are developing quite nicely, thank you very much.

Dina had just gotten up by the time I returned and we had breakfast (omlettes with onions and cheese, and Swedish filter coffee) in the garden.

Then it was off to the Tulip Winery for the latest in their series of international wine tastings. This time it was wines from Greece. I must say that while I was quite intrigued I didn’t expect to be very impressed by the wines. I’m very happy to stay that I was completely wrong about that.

There were four Greek wines on offer, presented by Chino from Adom Kehe, the importer. All were made from grape varieties native to Greece, and not found much of anywhere else.

The first two were 2014 whites from the Troupis Winery, both made from Moschofilero grapes, but from different vineyards. Not surprisingly, the two wines had much in common, both being were very dry and with a distinct lemony flavor. The first, called Fteri Moschofilero is the crisper and lighter of the two, while the Mantinia was a bit fuller bodied (though still quite light and refreshing) with more discernible fruit flavors. Dina & I enjoyed both of them, agreeing that the Fteri Moschofilero would be best during the hottest part of the day.

IMG_2371aThe next wine, Thalassitis, was also a 2014 white, this time of the Assyrtiko variety, from the Gaia Winery on the island of Santorini. Gaia’s winemaker, Yiannis Paraskevopoulos, is a consultant to the MAIA Winery (Tulip’s sister winery), so we had high expectations and were not disappointed. This wine was in a different class, being fuller bodied and having more distinct fruit flavors than the previous two – I detected very pronounced yellow grapefruit. I found this wine to improve in the glass as it warmed a bit.

The last wine, called Agiorgitiko, after the Agiorgitiko grape variety from which it is made, was the only red in the bunch, and was also from the Troupis Winery. This was a light to medium bodied unoaked red that I found well suited to the warm weather.

After thanking Chino and Lital (who runs the visitor’s center at Tulip) we drove on to the Netofa Winery, in Mizpe Netofa just north of the Golani Junction, for their Meat and Wine Fe(a)st.

The setting at Netofa was laid back with mats, low tables, and cushions on the ground outside the winery, and classic oldies playing in the background. Clearly this would not be a come, eat, and leave event, but rather a sit down, relax, eat a bit, drink a bit, schmooze a bit (and repeat) kind of get-together.

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Indoors we met Pierre, Netofa’s winemaker, who promptly poured us each a glass of his Domaine Rosé, a very pleasant Syrah-Mourvèdre blend.

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Throughout the event we tasted all seven of Netofa’s wines. In addition to the Rosé, Netofa makes two Syrah-Mourvèdre reds, one each from the Domaine and Latour series, with the former being lighter and fruitier and the latter fuller bodied and more complex. Netofa also makes two whites, both Chenin Blanc, again a Domaine and a Latour. Rounding out the line are the Tinto red blend of Touriga Nacional-Tempranillo and Netofa’s Fine Ruby port style wine made from the same grapes. I like all of Netofa’s wines, but on this  occasion I particularly enjoyed the Latour Red, finding that it complemented the meats quite nicely.

Back outside we were greeted by Yahav (operations manager) and Yair (owner & general manager) who was working the grill.

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First, Yair treated us to some homemade sausages that he makes to an old family recipe. They were really quite enjoyable. A while later he called us back for some perfectly grilled asado; there were several cuts, and they were all good.

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The pièce de résistance, as far as I’m concerned,  were some fantastic melt-in-your-mouth baby ribs. They were really quite perfect. And then, just in case we hadn’t had enough, there were some very nice homemade kebabs.

To go with the meat were various condiments, including a homemade chimichurri, and a variety of vegetables grilled on the BBQ.

This was an all-you-can-eat/all-you-can-drink event, as long as you weren’t in a hurry. The meat came off the grill gradually and the wine was poured in measured servings. As far as I’m concerned, that’s how it should be; good food, good drink, and good company should be savored and enjoyed slowly. We spend so much of our lives in a hurry; sometimes its a good idea to just slow down.

Needless to say we had a great time, and Netofa made the extra effort to make it just that much better – a bowl of fresh fruit, an espresso machine, and dark chocolate in the winery.

By now it was close to 4pm, but our day was far from over. We slowly (and carefully) made our way home and had a late afternoon nap. There was no need to prepare dinner as we’d had more than enough at Netofa.

Then we headed to Tel Aviv to the Dire Straits Experience concert, having gotten tickets as a birthday present from my kids (I must have done something right!). I never saw Dire Straits in concert so I can’t compare, but this show was outstanding and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks kids!

Truly a perfect day.

Both the Tulip international wine tastings and the Netofa wine & meat get-togethers are regular events. The next at Netofa are scheduled for August 21st and September 25th, though the next Tulip event has not yet been announced. Check my calendar regularly to see what’s going on.

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