Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

From Kuntra to Mourvedre in four bottles

In less than two weeks we will be living in our new house! At the same time that we are preparing the new house, we are wrapping up on the sale of our current house.  Various aspects of the sale continue to occupy my time so while it is impossible to conduct any historic research, they do not preclude liquid research.  My latest round involved four bottles of Turkish and Israeli wine I brought to taste while my daughter had a playdate.

According to the article On a Turkish Isle, Winds Tend the Vines Cabernet Sauvignon is king on the tiny island of Bozcaada.  As such the 2010 Corvus Vineyards, Karga, Bozcaada Island is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon along with Kuntra, which is specific to the island.  Together this produced a wine that will please many with its different flavor profile.  And it is quite affordable!  The 2011 Kavaklidere Wine Co, Egeo, Syrah, Anatola presented a softer, riper profile but kept interest.  I rather liked the 2012 Domaine Netofa, Basse Galilee for it took on orange and rose notes.  It too, was a touch soft but the finish of salivating acidity kept it in check.  The 2013 Dalton Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee is sure to please any lover of forward, Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was the biggest and most generous of the wines, which certainly created fans at dinner.

I thought, if being generally critical, that the wines were a touch soft and could benefit from more acidity.  That aside these were all tasty wines that provided good fun.  I might give a slight nod to the Turkish pair but in recommending one from each country I suggest the Corvus and Netofa.  These wines were purchased at Potomac Wines and Spirits.


2010 Corvus Vineyards, Karga, Bozcaada Island – $15
Imported by The House of Burgundy.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Kuntra.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A mixture of mature aromas and prune but with some freshness.  In the mouth this fruity wine had a touch of glycerin and creamy feel before fresh, textured black fruit and a touch of greenhouse came out in the middle.  With air there was a rather ripe note along with more structure and aromas of cocoa.  In general, a good twist of flavors.  ** Now-2018.


2011 Kavaklidere Wine Co, Egeo, Syrah, Anatola – $23
Imported by Stefano Selections.  This wine is 100% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were saline notes of the sea on the nose.  In the mouth was a similar seaside accented flavor of black fruit and prune.  This wine showed a softed entry with more body.  It was a little rugged with a mineral finish and an aftertaste of cinnamon spiced wood notes.  ** Now-2018.


2012 Domaine Netofa, Basse Galilee – $20
Imported by Royal Wine Corp.  This wine is a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were red berries on the nose.  In the mouth were clean, slightly soft flavors of red berries.  The wine was a bit laid back but the salivating acidity and texture in the finish added interest.  It eventually developed orange and rose water notes.  Everything wrapped up with spiced and ripe tannins.  ** Now-2016.


2013 Dalton Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee – $22
Imported by Allied Importers.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for eight months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were some greenhouse infused blue and black aromas.  In the mouth was a rounded, softer entry with tart, purple flavors,  This was the biggest of the four wines with creamy, root beer like flavors, that left texture on the gums and a finish of salivating acidity.  ** Now-2017.


Two Alternative Wines from Whole Foods Market

April 18, 2012 1 comment

I recently stopped by the Whole Foods Market near my mother’s house to pick up a few appetizers.  With the wine section conveniently located near both the entrance and the fresh produce I decided to take a quick look.  We live in Montgomery County, Maryland where the Whole Foods Markets are not allowed to sell beer and wine.  So I always get pleasure from browsing the stores in DC and Virginia.  I promptly found the Alternative to Europe section where there was a selection of wines from the Golan Heights Winery, Israel and Teliani Valley, Georgia.  Having happily drunk the 2003 Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Syrah that Lou brought over last year I thought I would grab an entry-level wine the 2010 Golan, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Upon seeing the Georgian wines of Teliani Valley I was unable to recall the last time I tried a wine from Georgia.  With the choices being a white, dry red, and sweet red I grabbed a bottle of the dry red wine made from the Saperavi grape.  Both bottles were priced around $13 which is a great price for trying something new.  While my preferences tilt towards the Golan I would not hesitate to try the Teliani Valley if you are interested in Georgian wine or interesting grape varieties.

Yarden Vineyard, Image by israel21c_internal (flickr)

Israeli wine making has foundations in the late 19th century when returning Jews to the Holy Land began planting vineyards.  With a lack of success from the harsh conditions Baron Edmond de Rothschild gave tremendous funds for viticultural development in the agricultural programs.  With no surviving indigenous vines, vine cuttings from the Rhone and Southern France were brought over along with French experts.  The cuttings came from regions judged to have a similar climate.  The early vine growers and wine makers received up to date education and propagated such vines as Carignan, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, and Muscat of Alexandria.  The Carmel Winery was promptly established in 1882 and continues to operate today.  In 1983 the Golan Heights Winery was founded in the higher altitude, thus cooler, Golan Heights.  As wineries and vineyards expanded into the cooler regions of Israel they were planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, and Chardonnay.  The climate is hot, sunny, and dry requiring vineyards to be irrigated and vines trained such that the leaves provide shade for the fruit.  The chief winemaker at Golan Heights Winery is Victor Schoenfeld a graduate of UC Davis.  He employs the latest technologies and imports barrels, bottles, and corks.  There is also a micro-winery which is used for experimentation.

Vineyard at Teliani Valley, Image by Jake Marvin Miller (flickr)

Georgia has an ancient viticultural history dating back over 5,000 years.  Archaeological excavations have uncovered a rich assortment of artifacts throughout the country.  Viticulture was the prime agricultural practice which is evidenced by the more than 500 indigenous varieties, some of which still grow as wild vines throughout.  In the early 20th century the vineyards were destroyed by Phylloxera requiring vineyards to be replanted on resistant rootstock.  Today there are 2-3 dozen varieties approved for commercial use.  Teliani Valley is located in southeast Georgia in the viticultural zone of Kakheti.  This region experiences a moderate climate and produces the majority of the fruit used in making wine.  The winery was founded in 1997 on the location of the 19th century winery of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze.  With an influx of money in 2004 from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development they were able to build a new winery with updated equipment and to expand their vineyards.  The wine featured in this post is made from the indigenous Saperavi grape.  This grape is one of the few varieties where the pulp is red.

2010 Golan Heights Winery, Golan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilee –
Imported by Yarden Inc.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vineyards located at 400 to 1,200 meters in elevation.  It was aged for six months in American oak barrels.  The nose reveals jammy black berries.  In the mouth the flavors are fruit driven, starting with a ripe and sweet nature before becoming a touch racy with some spice.  The flavors tightened up in the finish with blue and black fruits, a pebbly texture, and round personality.  Jenn found this international styled wine to be “very drinkable.”  ** Now-2014.

2008 Teliani Valley, Saperavi, Kakheti –
Imported by Georgian House of Greater Washington.  This wine is 100% Saperavi which was aged for three months in oak barrels.  In the mouth there were tart red citrus fruit and plenty of tannins in this lean bodied wine.  It is brighter in nature with plenty of acidity and chestnut flavors.  On the second night the flavors simplified and hardened so this is best on the first night.  ** Now-2015.

A Tasting With Lou

Aaron and Lou Tasting the Bagged Wines

Lou came over on Tuesday night to taste some wine.  He was interested in trying his 2005 DeLille D2 so we settled on tasting five Washington Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot blends and one ringer.  The wines were double-decanted about 15-30 minutes before we started tasting.  They were served at wine-fridge temperature and brown-bagged.  The leftovers were divided and enclosed with Private Preserve so that we could retaste them on the next night.  We spit a fair amount, which was a good thing, as these wines get into the 15.2% ABV range.

Lou and Jenn Enjoying Themselves

This was a fun tasting.  At first the five Washington wines showed some differences but still came across as a homogeneous group compared to the Tulip Winery ringer.  But as the evening progressed the different trajectories became evident and on the second night all of the wines reached markedly different destinations.

Aaron and Lou with Leftover Wine

If I had to rank these wines I would put the Quilceda Creek and Gramercy Cellars in the top group, followed by the DeLille and JB Neufeld in the next group with the Spring Valley Vineyard and Tulip Winery rounding it out.  Lou and I agreed that the Quilceda Creek and Gramercy Cellars shined through on the second night with the DeLille Cellars and JB Neufeld suffering a bit.  I highly recommend that you try the wines of Gramercy Cellars which you may readily find at Seattle stores.  I wished that the DeLille and JB Neufeld survived better because I did enjoy them.

  1. Quilceda Creek Vintners and Gramercy Cellars
  2. DeLille Cellars and JB Neufeld
  3. Spring Valley Vineyard
  4. Tulip Winery

2007 Spring Valley Vineyard, Uriah, Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley
I bought this at Pete’s Wine Shop in Eastlake for roughly $45.  This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 285 Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, and 6% Malbec.  It was aged for 18 months in 65% new French oak barrels.  On the first night there was a nose of sweet red fruit with some heat.  In the mouth the red fruits were a little bit gritty and seemed sensitive to heat.  There were plenty of chewy, fine to medium textures tannins that were enjoyable.  There were ripe, sweet components that reminded me of old lady’s perfume and a bit of spiciness to the finish.  On the second night the perfumed coated the lips with a metallic tinge.  The fine tannins felt more oak sourced and the spicy finish persisted.

2005 DeLille Cellars, D2, Columbia Valley
Lou bought this somewhere.  This wine is a blend of 51% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.  It was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak.  This wine started with a nose of dusty, dirty earth and notes of black cherry underneath.  While Jenn found it “sketchy at first” it cleaned up with air.  There were harder flavors of rip, black-red fruits and a creamy finish with mineral notes.  On the second night the nose had faded but the enjoyable black fruits were still present.  The fruit was mixed with minerals and the finish took on a stone-like profile with very blue fruits.  There was still a creamy component and many stone/mineral flavors that coated the mouth in the aftertaste.

2008 JB Neufeld, Cabernet Sauvignon, Artz Vineyard, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
I bought this for $32 at City Cellars in Seattle.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 19 months in 80% new French oak barrels.  There were aromas of red fruits with a piercing component that reminded me of a greener Merlot.  In the mouth the flavors were pure with red fruits mixed with powerful and definitive, very fine tannins.  This seemed much different from the others with its red fruit profile.  On the second day there were good, pure fruit flavors that become more blackberry.  There were very fine, grapier tannins.  The overall profile become more compact and closed than the first two wines.  Jenn found the finish became sharper and was “hard to drink.”

2007 Quilceda Creek Vintners, Red Wine, Columbia Valley
Lou bought this from the mailing list around $32 if I recall.  This wine is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Malbec.  This started off with a good nose of red fruit and herbs.  The mouthfeel was creamy with black cherries and sweet spice flavors.  Layers of herbs developed midpalate but the flavors dropped off a bit in the finish.  This was a young, big wine, but pleasant to drink.  With a bit more air an inky pervasiveness developed and a mouth-filling aftertaste left scented herbs.  On the second night the fruit showed a lovely spiced component.  It still showed young but again, a pleasure to drink.  The complex fruit holds up to the ample fine tannins.  I found a little more heat to the wine and hints of wood toast.

2005 Tulip Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Judean Hills, Israel
Lou bought this at the winery for roughly $25.  The blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and if Lou remembers correctly, was aged in Californian oak for 18 months.  On the first night there was a good nose of sweet (instead of ripe) fragrant berries.  The mouth was very rich with cool blue fruits in the finish and a spicy aftertaste.  It was jam-packed with fruit and incense.  A nice wine but huge and overtly amped up.  On the second night there was a bit of a chemically, varnish note to the nose.  Notes of old, musty wood preceded the sweet fruit that had become one-dimensional and lacked supporting acidity.  It did not hold up too well.

2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
I bought this at Pete’s Wine Shop in Eastlake for no more than $45.   This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  I first found a nose of Concord grape juice and wood toast.  But with time there were flavors of red and blue fruits, a nice mouthfeel developed, and the tannins felt resolved and integrated at the midpalate.  The aftertaste was grapey with some tart flavors.  At the end of the evening a dark core became apparent.  On the second night there were great flavors of dark red fruit and this great core of sweetly spiced blue fruit that carried through to the aftertaste.  There were cool lifted fruits, some puckering tannins, then notes of sour red fruits.  This showed better on the second night.  Lou and Jenn really enjoyed this wine from the start whereas I was a bit skeptical.  But as the evening progressed it was obvious that this was an outstanding wine.

Tasting the Wines on the Second Night

A Casual Tasting On Our Deck

May 12, 2011 1 comment

Aaron and Lou

This week Lou joined Jenn, Lorelei, and I on our deck for a casaul tasting and a simple dinner of charcuterie, cheeses, sliders, and salads.  We double-decanted the wines and bagged them up right before we started.  The different wines made for a fun evening.  Jenn and I preferred the Mordoree and the Yarden.  I believe Lou preferred the La Garrigue and the Mordoree.  We kept the Yarden and Santa Duc to taste again.  Lou kept the La Garrigue and Mordoree.

2001 Domaine de la Mordoree, Duvee de la Rieine des Bois, Lirac
This wine is 33% Grenache, 33% Mourvedre, and 33% Syrah from 30 year old vines (at the time).  The grapes are harvested by hand, spend 30 days fermenting, then 30% is aged in oak barrels and 70% in stainless steel.  This wine has a medium nose of earth and minerals.  With air Jenn noticed a slight pee note but it was not detracting.  I found some grilled bread aromas.  In the mouth there were red fruits, minerals, and a lifted finish.  There are still fine to medium tannins.  This was deeper and richer than the La Garrigue.  *** Now-2017.

Lou visited the Golan Heights Winery and brought this bottle back home.

2003 Golan Heights Winery, Yarden Syrah, Golan Heights
This wine is 100% Syrah from three vineyards, Ortel in northern Golan and Yonatan and Tel Phares in central Golan.  The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 18 months.  The ruby-purple color was markedly different than the other wines.  It had a strong Syrah nose that was very fresh and full of piercing aromas.  In the mouth this medium-bodied wine showed creamy flavors, some wood toast, and put on a fair amount of weight with air.  This is a good wine with plenty of life ahead.  *** Now-2017.

2000 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape
This  wine looked cloudy and somewhat browned.  It had a muted nose, tasted over the hill, and quickly fell apart.  I bought it know that the wine may have seeped causing the stained label.  When I cut the foil I did not see any seepage.  Clearly it was a bad bottle so we set it aside and I opened the Santa Duc.  Not Rated.

2000 Domaine La Garrigue, Vacqueyras
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault.  The vineyards average 30-40 years of age.  The grapes are harvested by hand and aged in concrete tanks for at least 18 months.  The nose revealed redder fruit with dusty, herbed aromas.  There was a bit of a lipstick component as well.  In the mouth the leaner red fruit was packed with dusty herbs and dry tannins.  This was the most austere of the wines.  ** Now-2017.

1998 Domaine Santa Duc, Prestige des Haut Garrigues, Gigondas
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 3% Syrah, and 2% Cinsault.  The Grenache vines are very old. It is aged for two years in tuns and new casks.  This wine was opened as a replacement for the Janasse.  It had a light nose.  In the mouth there were big, rich flavors that stand up to the ample, lip-coating tannins.  With air it put on weight and developed cinnamon-like flavors and a mineraliness.  On the second night, there was still a light nose.  It tasted a little tired with slightly roasted fruits, minerals, cool blue fruit, and some earthy flavors.  There were still minerals and almost overwhelming wood tannins.  **** 2017-2025.