Tzora Winery Visit – April 2019

A winery that I visit more often than most is Tzora – and it’s not just because it’s 5 minutes from my house. Tzora simply makes some of the best wine in Israel, year in and year out. After what many thought was a subpar showing last year on the the SB based Shoresh White, I was very interested to see where things would be this year.

This is actually the second time in the last few months that I visited Tzora with David Raccah of This year, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hit the public release event so when David suggested a return visit I was all over it – with just me and David spending some quality time with Eran Pick, Tzora’s uber talented winemaker (and Israel’s only Master of Wine) tasting through all of the current releases plus a couple of back bottles as a treat.

Current Releases:

Tzora’s 2019 Releases

2018 Tzora Judean Hills White – Pretty much in line with last year – both in blend (75/25 Chard/SB) and profile. Classic chard primary flavors running through with a huge acid streak down the middle. Really nice. Maybe even a step above last year’s which I also thought was wonderful.

2018 Tzora Shoresh White – So the 2017 vintage of this wine was a big let down for most. The Chardonnay, at an outsized 25% that year, totally killed the freshness of the SB. This year, we return to a more standard 90/10 SB/Chard split. Here is an SB based wine I can truly get behind – and proof that a good blend is MORE than the sum of it’s parts – with the nose and primary flavors are exactly that – beautiful tart juicy red grapefruit, lemon and apple followed by some dried grass and more grapefruit. This baby has great acid and minerality through and through – and most importantly for me, none of the (off) SB characteristics that I don’t like (still waiting for someone to explain to me how cat piss is a positive descriptor). This wine is excellent.

2017 Tzora Judean Hills Red – I tasted this wine just after release in November /December – and it is pretty much in the exact same place 1/2 year later. Where is that? Well, in 3 words – ripe but controlled. And actually that’s reassuring. When I first tasted this wine, I said uh-oh – yes if it’s out of the gate this ripe, how is it going to do 6 months. But it held – which is more than I can say for the ’16 which got progressively sweeter. Now the ’16 may also come back and might still be developing – it’s a Tzora wine after all and I would be silly count it out. With ’17 though I think we are in a better place with less left to chance. Again – if you are very sensitive to ripe flavors, this may be a pass – but I am less sensitive than others. What does that translate to? Mostly black and dark blue ripe fruit and berries with hint of roasted meat coming up after with some toasty notes. The wine is built well too with nice tannin and medium + acidity. (When on sale this is a wine I often stock up on – providing excellent value at NIS 75 – less so at 100+….)

2017 Tzora Shoresh Red – So here we have a Syrah/CS/PV (50/35/15) blend – and an absolute winner. The nose is pretty dark blue & red and ripe with a little bit of earthiness. In the mouth, we have the in verse of the JH with the roasted meat flavors taking front and center followed by the still blakc and blue fruit. But then we have more development with nice beautiful earthiness, and a little bit of almost a smokey lead pencil kind of flavor. Also great core here with excellent acid and powdery tannin. A really beautiful wine coming out of a pretty tough vintage.

2017 Tzora Or – This is the second time I am tasting this wine as well – and it has improved. Before I found the sweetness to be way out of check – even for a desert wine. But it was likely within the first month after release and needed to settle down. Now we are much more balanced with the usual profile of honeyed apricot , honeydew and a touch of sweet citrus balanced out by some excellent acid. Still super young, this wine should develop nicely for years to come.

Bonus Blind Tasting:

Judean Hills ’13, Misty Hills ’14

2013 Judean Hills Red – This wine has really come in to it’s own and I would have guessed an older Shoresh. Beautiful and just shows you how well Mr. Pick makes even his entry level wine. 6 years old! Many winemaker would be happy selling this as their premier bottle of red.

2014 Misty Hills – Wow! This wine is elegant and beautifully structured. Oak has integrated nicely and is now where it should be. The fruit – very dark – has now receded just a bit. Medium + body and acidity give a really nice elegant feeling. The tannin here is still firm making you think that the wine is younger than it is at first – but really showing that this wine has plenty of time to fully evolve.

My thanks to Eran Pick for being so generous with his time and wine – and to David Raccah for arranging this and many of the other visits – and hanging out during the month of April.

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