Whirlwind Wine Tour

After several days of cold, wind, clouds and rain, the sun finally came out in all its glory on a background of bright blue sky. Naftali arrived promptly a few minutes before 8:30 AM with Asher, who was visiting from Vancouver, Canada where he has lived for the past 15 years. As usual, I was not quite ready, but I gathered up my wine tasting notes and camera, put on my boots and ran out to the car. Whoops, sunglasses were an essential on a day like this, especially as were driving up to the Golan Heights, so I went to my car, plucked them from the glove compartment and off we went. We took the Tsfat bypass road and as we ascended higher and higher we left the sun behind, entering the fog and low lying clouds. Off came the sunglasses, not to be returned to use for the remainder of the trip.

Our first stop was the Golan Heights Winery for a tasting of their new Rose bubbly wine to which they referred in an email sent to the Friends of GHW. But alas, they knew nothing of such a wine. It actually turned out that this new Champagne-style Rose Wine is something they have made but not yet released. So we’ll have to taste it next time.

Naftali & Asher

Today we were treated to a taste of the wonderful Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon vintage 2008 and the Yarden single vinyard Syrah from Avital Slopes also from 2008. Both are big, bold and beautiful wines with gentle intermingling tastes and you can read the israelwinetaster descriptions of the single vineyard Syrah by clicking on it. I will do a tasting of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon soon and write it up for the Tasting Serits. I bought some Gamla Nebbiolo from the 2008 vintage to put in the cellar as this wine needs at least several years of aging.

El Rom Vineyard

The other reason for our visit was to be able to purchase another single vineyard wine from the Yarden series, the newly released El Rom. said to be the flagship wine of the Golan Heights Winery. The El Rom vineyard is located in the northern Golan Heights at an elevation of just over 1,000 meters above sea level and the vines were planted between 1983 and 2004. The wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon and was produced in a limited production of only14,700 bottles. They limit the purchase to two bottles per person and the price is 190 shekels each. Daniel Rogov wrote on March 11th of this year, the following about this wine: “Showing …Intensely dark garnet in color, deep and powerful, with ripe blackberry, black currant and black cherry fruits. Still in its infancy with the tannins, wood and fruits starting to come together and with the kind of balance and structure that bode well for a well-focused and cellar-worthy wine. Destined for elegance so give this one the time it deserves. Approachable by 2012 but best only from 2014 or 2015 and then cellaring well until 2024, perhaps longer. Tentative Score 94-96.” I guess I’m going to have to wait a while before I open this one.

We then tried to visit the new Golan Brewery, a component of the growing GHW team, but it was not yet open. So back into the car we went and off to the new Visitors Center of the Rimon Winery which is located at Machanayim Junction where roads 90 and 91 meet. There Gabi Nachmias, the man responsible for development of their late-ripening and high-sugar content variety of pomegranate, hosted us to a tasting of their Port-style wines and Champagne-style wine, all made from the juice of the pomegranates that they grow. I have written of these before, extolling their beauty, and I invite you to read these previous posts. The Premium Port Style Pomegranate Wine is expensive, but a real winner. We look forward to a tasting of Gabi’s distillate of his port wine in the near future. Is it something like Cognac? Is it something like Calvados? Is it even for sale? I’ll be happy to report the answers to these questions in the near future.

On we went to the Industrial Zone of Moshav Dalton where Butterfly Brewery, Dalton Winery and Adir Winery are located. The Brewery also has a Visitor’s Center where, for 15 shekels you can taste a shot glass of each of their three types of beer. I didn’t do any tasting there because, having celiac disease, I cannot drink anything containing malt, and that includes beer. But Asher, coming from a community with many micro-breweries, was of the opinion that Butterfly Beer contained too much gas. At Dalton, we were treated to tastings of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon (regular and reserve), Alma, and Shiraz. We all voted the Shiraz the best of what we tasted and we bought three bottles. Especial thanks to Moran, Moshe and Haim.

The last stop was at Adir Winery and Dairy and sampled their wonderful cheeses, including Lord, Admon. and Feta. All were fresh and tasty, bursting with flavors.

Avi, the vintner, treated us to a tasting of a new wine. It is still in the barrels and, when bottled, will be called “a.” It is a blend of 60% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc and is aged 18 months in oak barrels. My opinion, not shared by all, was that this is going to be a nice addition to their collection and I can hardly wait to taste it after it is aged in bottles for a bit. I’ll be sure to write about it soon.

It was a lively day and I did manage to taste most of the wines without drinking all that was poured. I estimate that I dumped out about two/thirds of the small amount that was poured into my glass. I am quite sure that this improved my ability to discern the true qualities of the wines. But I still have to try not swallowing any at a tasting of so many wines. Dumping the wine out of the glass is relatively easy compared to dumping it out after it has entered my mouth, but apparently this is perfectly acceptable amongs wine tasting circles.

After watching several videos. I now think that I will feel comfortable doing this in the future. In the meantime, I wish you happy wine tasting.

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Tasting of Gamla Nebbiolo 2008

Gamla Nebbiolo is back!

We tasted the Gamla Nebbiolo vintage 2006 a while ago and made some scribbled notes on the back of an envelope which got lost in the shuffle and I never wrote a post about it. That was before our israelwinetaster Wine Tasting Form so we are more organized now.  The 2008 vintage has been released by the Golan Heights Winery a short time ago and four days ago I purchased two bottles when we were at the winery. Last night we opened one, let it breathe for an hour while we made supper of guacamole and an adaptation of a recipe from GreenLiteBites for Bulgur with Peas and Pomegranate. We used rice instead of the bulgur and fresh chopped garlic, fresh finely chopped onion and a mixture of fresh chopped parsley and coriander instead of the dried powder versions of these three flavorizers. It was “Mmmmmmm, Good.”

First a word about Nebbiolo from the Oxford Wine Companion. This is a black grape responsible for some of the finest and longest-lived wines of the Piemonte region in the northwest of Italy. It is used in such well recognised names as Barolo and Barbaresco. The grape variety dates back to antiquity with written references to it from the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1431, fines were levied against those guilty of cutting a Nebbiolo vine. The name seems to be derived either from nobile (noble) or from nebbia (frog), a frequent visitor to the vinyards of this region in October when the grape is harvested. It is the first variety to bud and the last to ripen causing vintners to give it favorable hillside exposures to the south. The Nebbiolo is a fussy vine and needs a high calcium content of the soil. The Oxford Companion states that the “wine is said to have a full flavor balancing the relatively high acidity and tannin level.”

Looking back at my “back of the envelope” wine tasting notes, I wrote that it had a rich fruity taste. Nurit said that it had a wood smokey finish. I also found a comment I write about it on the wine discussion forum on the web site, WineLoversPage where I stated that “It is a very deep purple color and very high in tannins and has a taste of cherries and plums with a long peppery finish reminding me of a Shiraz.” In referring to its high tannin content, I stated that, “because it is FULL of tannins, it needs to rest in the wine cellar another couple of years.”

Last night’s tasting of the Gamla Nebbiolo 2008 was a treat, especially after its absence, as there was no 2007 vintage. The wine has a dark blackish purple color and is of medium body. It has a forest fern aroma which reminded me of the cold rooms where the aging barrels of wine are stored. It’s taste is of cherries and plums with a lingering peppery finish, once again reminiscent of a Shiraz. Typical of the Nebbiolo grape, there is a high tannin level, just as its 2006 older brother. Nurit said that it tasted like “tzimis” with a rich, sweet flavor of prunes and I, independently, circled “sweet dark fruits” on the tasting form. We gave it a grade of A in our Grading System and it will bring us back to the winery to purchase some more.

Incidentally, there the price is 75 shekels or approximately $20. In my opinion, it is truly a bargain and I recommend your buying one to taste it and, if you agree, buying more for storage in your wine cellar.