Having returned last night from 2 1/2 weeks in Israel, I saw the doc about my wrist again today. Surgery is scheduled for Friday – I am getting a screw put into my wrist. Can’t say that I am too excited about the upcoming procedure, but it will hopefully end this regretful wrist saga.
While in Israel I of course tasted a bunch of wine. I did not however take any tasting notes, so we’ll have to discuss the standouts in real rough format.
Of special note was the ever increasing Israeli boutique wine market. It seems just about every Israeli wine lover with the ability to plant some vines or buy some grapes is starting a label or opening up a boutique winery. Sarcasm aside, some of the better boutiques are doing an amazing job. I’m still worried about the pricing policies many of these wineries are adopting, but the product they are releasing is continuing to be of high quality and showing continued improvement.
On to the wines, I tried a new Segal Winery wine called “Single”. The wine was on promotion at a restaurant and was being offered for the equivalent of about $25/bottle. Full of fruit, hints of oak, soft & subtle, this wine went great with our grilled meats & chicken.
A few days later we happened upon a 2003 “Dishon vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon also by Segal Winery. Always the fan of Segal vineyards (their “unfiltered” is amazing), I was disappointed. This 6 year old wine was showing some complex secondary characteristics (desirable in aged wines) & was very much alive. But it seemed to have undergone a minor secondary fermentation in the bottle as there was a bit of “fizziness” to the wine. The fizziness seemed to dissipate as the wine was open & revealed a lovely wine. But the initial glass or two with our food was not what it should have been and detracted from the food/wine experience.
Another negative wine-in-restaurant experience happened when we ordered a wine from a VERY well thought of winery; Yatir – the 2005 Cab-Merlot-Shiraz blend. Others enjoyed the wine more than I did as I felt it seemed a bit cooked, showing baked/stewed fruit aromas & flavors. I wonder if it was stored near a hot kitchen.
I stopped by old friend Ze’ev of Sea Horse wines and tasted a new blend – a barrel sample of his 2009 Cote du Rhone/GSM (grenache/syrah/mourvedre). A very pretty floral nose reminiscent of a light Dolcetto. The wine had a light body and will make for a terrific summer red (summer of 2010).
Finally, I attended a tasting of Psagot wines. Of late I have been hearing positive things about Psagot but have until the tasting stayed away due to pricing that being unfamiliar with the wines prevented me from buying a bottle. Special thanks to the good folks at Buy Wine Israel for insisting I be there cause WOW, these wines were impressive. We started off with a Viognier that showed great varietal expression. Flowers, honey and a overall pretty bouquet this wine was soft and balanced, something often difficult to achieve with these ripe (and often high alcohol) varietals. From there we tasted several reds, including a vertical of the merlot (2006 & 2007), a cab & a blend. All the wines were impressive but the Merlots stood out to me. I believe that the Judean Hills are producing some excellent wines but the Merlots are some of the best around. Chilean Merlot has been getting good press in recent years & I think it is time Israeli Merlot (Judean Hills in particular) get their due. Now if only Israeli wineries could figure out a way to produce equally good wine & price them more along the lines of the wines coming out of Chile. Though I am not sure it is feasible and don’t see it happening, if/when Israeli wines are priced on the shelves at $15 (give or take $3) they will be well on their way to appealing to the mainstream wine market.
Happy surgically repaired wrist, Israeli (merlot) wine tasting!