Pelter Winery, located on the Golan Heights, was founded in 2002 by Tal Pelter after studying viticulture and enology in Australia. He cultivates a number of varieties of grape including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Grenache, Tempranillo, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay. In the beginning he produced about 4,000 bottles and has continued increasing output to 85,000 bottles annually. The winery’s three cornerstones are vitality, quality and family.
Three of us drove up to the Golan and found Kibbutz Ein Zivan easily enough. This location is the present home of the winery, though not an economic part of the kibbutz. Once through the main entrance gate and after turning right, according to the instructions on the Pelter Winery web site, we lost our way. Actually we drove right by the winery, not realizing that the industrial looking building was the place we were trying to find. We continued on, and on, and on. We had obviously lost our way, so we finally called them on the phone. They said they were in the “hangar which was really easy to find.” If you know what you are looking for this is true. Once there, we were greeted by Tal and who graciously gave us a tour of the facility, explaining their production techniques.
Then we sat down and were served two cheeses made by Tal’s wife.
They were light and tasty and went well, especially with the white wines including Chardonay, and our favorite, the Gevurtaztraminer. All of these are fermented in stainless steel vats and then directly put into bottles.
The reds we tasted were Shiraz, Trio, Cabernet-Shiraz blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. I look forward to the release of the new, unusually named “I”, flagship wine of the winery, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in approximately equal parts. We also did not taste their sparkling Blanc de Blancs so I must return to the winery soon.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in French oak barrels for 20 months and was especially good. I agree with the description of the wine on their website, “rich in herbal, mint and eucalyptus flavors laced with chocolate and a rich, lingering finish.” Price 140 shekels/bottle ($40).
The Cabernet Franc, aged in oak for 14 months, “reflects optimal extraction of the unique spice and blackberry flavors of this grape variety.” Price 160 shekels/bottle ($45).
For me the winner was the varietal Petit Verdot which is usually blended in small quantities with Cabernet Sauvignon and other varieties to give the final wine an herbal flavor. Here at Pelter, they bottle it as a varietal. This wine has an extremely big body and a tartness. It is full of aromas of the fields with a complex taste of strong fruits and nuts with a long finish. It is rich in tannins and could be aged for a number of years in the proper conditions, the late Daniel Rogov gave this wine a score of 93 in his annual visit with tasting notes. This is a very unique and special wine. Price 160 shekels/bottle ($45).
I will return to these wines again when we drink them at home at dinnertime. I can then concentrate on them one at a time allowing me to share with you a more detailed description of how these wines titillate my senses without being confused by tasting other wines. Nurit, who was not able to join us in our visit to the winery can also contribute her outstanding ability to transform tastes and aromas into words.