Our all Israeli RCC -Israel Shvat is a wrap – and it was spectacular! The food of Bracha Arnold has really never been better – every single bite was delicious. We also had some excellent surprises from the “bonus” bottles that were brought by participants – including a first taste of the new 2017 Latour Netofa Rosé tasted side by side (blind) with the 2017 Domaine Netofa Rosé. All in all the night was excellent – as always.
Golan Heights Winery, Gamla, Hashmurah, Brut, NV – This was the newest release which is comprised at least partially of Shmitah wine – you can easily tell the difference between this version and the version that proceeded it by a notation in the upper right corner of the front label indicating that it is an Otzar Beit Din Wine. My first time tasting this release and what can I say – this wine is great. In fact this young, I prefer it to the way the current Yarden BdB (2009) tasted at this point in its history. It has gotten better with age and no doubt will continue to do so – but at this stage in its development, the Gamla Brut would win. While also very lemony – the acid and citrus is really held in balance and is not overwhelming. I don’t know if those deep yeasty flavors that I love will develop – but for a young wine and costing only NIS 55, this wine is a HUGE winner. Best value for a sparkling champagne style wine – PERIOD.
The next 3 wines were brought as bonus bottles and were tasted blind – making the comparison between the 2 2017 Netofa Rosés very interesting. One thing that I learned from last night – these wines need to be chilled but should not be drunk TOO cold, which we did at first. The low temperature really had the Domaine, a GSM blend, tasting totally like a Provençal Rosé – but in a one note kind of way – whereas the Latour’s acidity was way out of balance. At this point I chose the Domaine as my favorite of the two. When they warmed up – just a bit – the picture was VERY different – the Domaine tasted in line with my tasting a month ago – very nice, but a slight step behind the awesome 2016 – still I think for some out there, this is going to be even better than 2016 as there is a touch of perceived sweetness there that some will like. The Latour on the other hand showed INCREDIBLY – with the acidity balancing out and a great body with little watermelon and even some meaty notes in there. It is made of 100% tempranillo. Really a great wine and the clear winner for me.
We also tasted the 2014 Tabor Roussanne – great floral nose. Overall wine was nice except that the fruit has diminished a bit – and due to the relatively high alcohol (I think it was 15% or maybe even slightly more) – it finished slightly hot. Still at NIS 50 a bottle, it was a great wine – and while certainly in drink-up mode – still very nice. Made me want to go out and get a bottle of the current vintage which I beleive is a more reason able 12% abv or so.
On to the standard RCC bottles:
Midbar, Semillon/Sauvignon, 2010 – So this is a wine made by Ya’acov Oryah when he was at Asif/Midbar. I can’t say the wine is at peak – as I don’t know how it tasted a year or two ago. But this wine tasted FRESH – with some wonderful acid balanced out by the roundness of the Semillon. 8 years past vintage….. CRAZY – and yummy!
Gvaot, Masada, 2012 – One of my favorites of the night. Ripe dark fruit on the nose – and also in the mouth – balanced out by very nice acidity. Tannin still there but now integrated. Medium body. This wine has now entered it’s optimal drinking window IMHO- and is drinking beautifully and should continue for at least 3-4 years if not more, If I had to describe this wine – it would be elegant. Perfectly balanced and a great bottle.
Yatir, Forest, 2012 – I first tasted this wine on release and was surprised at how accessible it was then. At the time, I noted how it was made in more of Yatir’s current more fruit forward style. Last night though, this wine really surprised me. It has developed into a far better version. Yes – the fruit is still there and up front – but taken down a notch – and the acidity has come forward as well really balancing it out – with a super long and tasty finish. I’m happy I bought a few bottles to put away.
Carmel, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi, Shiraz, 2011 – No real change here from previous tastings – this continues to be the top Israeli Shiraz and one of the top Kosher Shiraz’s period. Dark berries, some chocolate, and a great peppery finish. Love it.
Shiloh, Mosaic, 2011 – It must be said that Shiloh produces 2 version of many of their wines – mevushal and not-mevushal. On a given year with a the mevushal version of a specific wine may be better and the next year the reverse. In this case, we were drinking the mevushal version. While pleasant enough, it’s nothing special and actually felt a little tired. Not bad – just not what I thought it could be – based on my tasting of the non-mevushal version of this same wine a few months ago – which is very nice indeed.
Tabor, Limited Edition, 1/11,000, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 – This was probably my favorite wine of the night. A truly wonderful wine. Nice dark fruit and some nice earthy tones with some nice warm spice. Everything in moderation – tannin, acid, body – creating perfect balance. A real winner!
Yaacov Oryah, Iberian Dream, Gran Reserva, 2011 – No real change here from the last few times we have drunk it. It’s a powerhouse. Only reason it isn’t at the top of the list is because we forgot to decant – and it probably needed a good 4-5 hours to really show it’s potential. This wine is easily 3 years away from being in it’s prime. So awesome.
Yatir , Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 – This wine was just a little over the top for me – probably because it was being served among wines that were far more balanced – not bad just a little to in your face – with very intense fruit and spice and a long finish and searing tannin. If i was having a heavier meal – maybe a thick steak, I probably would have liked it more. Again, not bad – just not great.
Carmel, Mediterranean, 2008 – I have never been a fan of this vintage of the Mediterranean – and this bottle did nothing to change my mind. I find it uni-dimensional and showing absolutely no “Mediterranean” flavors. One of the few wines served last night that I really didn’t enjoy.
Carmel, Limited Edition, 2007 – As per my previous note on this wine, while totally there on the nose, the Brett in this wine has receded somewhat. Still, if you don’t like Brett, you aren’t going to like this. I happen to enjoy it – and found this wine to be lovely.
Domaine Netofa, Ruby Port, 2012 – No real change from previous tastings. Not as nice as the 2010 Ruby, but not bad. Don’t know that this particular vintage is worth the price when Porto Quevedo is out there for NIS 90 or so.