Tasting Yiron 2009 from Galil Mountain Winery

photoWe have previously tasted and written about two previous vintages of one of our favorite wines, the Bordeaux style blend flagship wine of one of our favorite wineries, Galil Mountain which is located at Kibbutz Yiron. Those previously tasted were from the 2006 vintage and the 2007 vintage. Last night we opened the subject of this article, the 2009 vintage. I am going to write about it and only then read what we wrote about the previous vintages so as not to be influenced by our previous opinions.

Tasting - Nurit Testing Rose Before the TastingI needn’t describe this winery as you can easily read about it in previous articles as well as see it for yourself in these three panoramic vistas from their website. We’ve been there many times, including enjoying their events and barbecues. But I digress. The Yiron blend has varied in its mix from year to year, including as little as 48% Cabernet Sauvignon in the 2006 vintage. The 2009 vintage is more in keeping with the classic Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and a pinch of something else, in this case, 5% Petit Verdot. For more technical data we refer you to the winery’s web site’s page detailing aspects of the harvest and production methods.

YIRON BOTTLEThe alcohol content has seemed to be rising in recent years from the 13.9% of the first vintage of Yiron in 2000. This goes along with the trend throughout Israel and this year’s Yiron vintage qualifies as a “high alcohol wine,” with its 15.5% alcohol. This subject has been nicely discussed in a Wall Street Journal Article by Lettie Teague, in which she quotes some sommeliers as saying, “the heightened alcohol exaggerates everything, turning the wine into some sort of terrible caricature of itself. Apparently they have even used words like “monstrous,” “fruit bombs,” as well as “Frankenwine” to describe these wines they consider unbalanced in the sense that alcohol, they say, exaggerates everything. But in the end of her balanced article, Teague quotes Aldo Sohm, wine director of Le Bernardin in New York as saying, “It’s like the fat in the meat.” In this sense it is the alcohol that delivers the flavors. And this wine we drank sure does deliver. It has rich earthy aromas of our compost pile at our house in the hills. This, combined with a complex variety of flavors of peanuts and prunes with the smells of burnt wood and the ashes of the barbecue. It is rich in tannins that are not in any way harsh and which blend in with the flavors of dried prunes mixed with fresh plums. It has a super-long finish with bursting buds of flavors long after the wine has gone from the mouth.

Deep Purple In Decanter

Deep Purple In Decanter

We rate it an A despite its slightly high cost, although I found it on an internet search on Wine-Searcher.com selling from between $19 to $29 at a number of wine merchants in the NY/NJ area. There was one from Ohio selling it at $33. The east coast prices are roughly equivalent to what it sells for at the winery, approximately 90 shekels. This wine will definitely age well in ideal storage such as one of the many available and reasonably priced wine refrigerators. Enjoy this wine on special occasions and when you really want to treat yourself. L’Haim


Tasting Tabor Winery’s 1/6,000 And 1/13,000

These are two limited edition wines that we first tasted when we visited the Har Tavor Winery at the beginning of the year. At that time we reported our tasting notes there, along with several other of their selections tasted. But now, in the quiet of our home, and accompanying our vegetarian dinner of kidney beans mixed with corn, baked potatoes with olive oil and black pepper, and Brussels sprouts lightly fried with garlic, we can really appreciate the quality of these two wines. Incidentally, they were perfectly paired with our food, rich in flavor.

May I be so bold as to coin a term to differentiate these two artistically blended wines. I would like to call the first wine, the 1/13,000, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, Tavor’s “Australia Blend.” The iconic grape variety of the Land Down Under is Shiraz, and in Australia, according to Jancise Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, it “appears on possibly the majority of Australian red wine labels, either in lone varietal splendour or in conjunction with, most often, Cabernet Sauvignon—typically labelled simply Cabernet Shiraz or Shiraz Cabernet, depending on which is the dominant variety.” I use my term, “Australia Blend” to differentiate such a wine from what we all know as “Bordeaux Blend.” There is a word, meritage, which was invented in 1981in California in a contest to select a term for an exceptional wine blended in the Bordeaux tradition. And in 1988 Meritage was institutionalized when a group of American vintners formed The Meritage Association (now The Meritage Alliance) to identify and promote handcrafted wines blended from the traditional “noble” Bordeaux varieties. On their website they define the term, Red Meritage, as a “blend of two or more of the red ‘noble’ Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère. If the blend includes any other grape variety, it is, by definition, not a Meritage.” Their term, White Meritage is not relevant to the wines of this tasting, but your can learn about it at the Meritage website.

The first of the two wines in today’s tasting is the 1/13,00, an Australia Blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Shiraz from grapes grown at Emek Kadesh in the Upper Galilee. It is aged 18 months in oak and has a 14% alcohol level. The name of the wine comes from the fact that its total production was limited to 13,000 bottles. It has a complexity of aromas as if one is in a deep, dark forest and the ground is covered with moist moss and crushed cherries. The cherries also come through as a taste, along with black berries and Concord grapes. It is a bit puckers, though this disappeared when we tasted the second half of the bottle the next evening. I guess we didn’t give it enough time to aerate before pouring. It has a long, tasty, and smoother finish than the wine. When we purchased it eight months ago at the winery, it cost 110 shekels or under $30.

The second wine, a Bordeaux Blend, or Meritage, the 1/6,000, is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot grapes grown on Kibbutz Malkia. It is aged 24 months in oak barrels and has a 13.8% alcohol level. The wine’s name comes from the fact that only 6,000 bottles were produced. It has heavy aromas of dark fruit and oak with a body that is strong and thick in the mouth. The taste reminds us of dark Belgian chocolate cordial candies filled with rich, creamy, and heavy, cherry liqueur syrup. Schmidt’s Fudge Haus in Columbus, Ohio describes their hand made Belgian chocolates as “filled with liquid heaven and a rich cherry center. Just one won’t be enough!” We also describe this wine as “liquid heaven.” There is a distinct taste of tannins, though gentle ones, and with no bite. Of note is that this bottle was prepared as it should be. It was taken out of the wine refrigerator in the morning and allowed to slowly reach room temperature. It was also opened about an hour before we poured it to taste with our dinner. Like the 1/13,000 the finish is long and smooth. In January, when we purchased it at the winery, it cost 145 shekels or under $40.

In our opinion these two limited edition, high quality wines for special occasions are priced appropriately, and give them a rating of A**.