It was an absolutely beautiful Fall day with the temperature hovering in the mid 20’s of the Centigrade scale (about 70 degrees F), crisp air, a bright blue sky, and a minimal breeze. The event was put on by the Galil Mountain Winery and Barkanit Dairy to taste their wines and cheeses. They invited about 40 Friends of the Winery to this combined event and we arrived before anyone else.
The schedule called for a tasting of 5 each of the wines and cheeses, matching them according to taste and body. First was St. Mor paired with Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Aluma with Viognier. We then switched over to the red wines, with the schedule reading Manchego cheese going along with Barbera wine. For the stronger cheeses we were to drink heavier wines, with Shahat together with a Shiraz-Cabernet blend. Then the last of the five was Tavor and the flagship wine of Galil Mountain Winery, Yiron.
It was a nice plan but the five wines were poured and all the goodies, including the cheeses and bread were brought out and placed on the tables before the vintner and dairyman each gave us a short description of their wines and cheeses. I managed to steer a straight course, listening to the presentations before tasting the cheeses and wines. Others, however, dove right in willy-nilly.
First, Boaz, one of the two Galil Mountain Winery vintners. gave us a mini-lecture on the sense of tastes and how they interact. Briefly, they are sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, these being the classical tastes until 1985, when they added umami. He said that this one was not relevant to us as wine tasters. He also talked about the “body” or texture of the wines being contributed to by two components, bulk or volume and thickness. These are sensed as a full bodied wine or a thin wine. Relevant to the wines we were tasting, especially the Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, the thickness of the Viognier contributes to its being sensed as more sweet. To me the Sauvignon Blanc was much more thin and nearly watery, with less aroma and flavor compared to the fruity and more able-bodied Viognier. Of course, this Viognier is one of my favorite wines.
The Barkanit Diary was established in 1978 in the Kfar Yechezkel village. The farm’s 500 acres (2000 dunam) of grazing fields serve as year-round feeding pastures for its herd of 450 goats and 200 sheep. The milk from these animals is used to hand-make the cheeses with very little mechanized equipment. The first cheese was St. Mor which originated in the Loire Valley of France and is made from goat’s milk. It is gentle and soft with a bit of tartness and a carbonized covering. The Aluma cheese is also a 100% goat’s milk cheese in covered by white mold characterized by a complex, persistent aroma. The cheese paired the Barbera wine was Manchego, a Spanish, hard. sheep cheese. It is aged 4 to 8 months, during which it acquires its characteristic outer envelope and sweetish taste. It reminded Nurit of a cheddar. The first of the stronger cheeses was the Shahat, made from 50% goat’s milk and 50% sheep’s milk. It is characterised by its creamy and buttery texture and its ash-covered rind. With 5 to 8 weeks of aging, it develops a spicy taste. The Tavor cheese is made from sheep’s milk and is extremely salty. It may have gone well with the Yiron, another of my favorite wines from Galil Mountain Winery, but I had already swallowed too much of the wines and was too much under the effect of the alcohol to objectively comment further about the tasting. My notes petered out, and, in fact, I pretty much stopped recording my reactions before the Shiraz-Cabernet wine. I absolutely must use the container for disposing of the wine before swallowing it at the rest of my tastings. This, I make as a pre-new year’s resolution to be initiated immediately. Tastings of multiple wines can only be carried out without the swallowing. Drinking a single wine at home with dinner is another matter.
This was a lively event, educational and enjoyable. As usual, the Galil Mountain Winery staff were wonderful hosts and hostesses and put on a classy event. Incidentally, we left with a cart full of wine purchases of our favorites, Viognier and Yiron and a new favorite, Barbera.