Teperberg Winemakers and their Wines

2021 Teperberg, Inspire, White; 2021 Teperberg, Essence, Pinot Gris; 2020 Grenache, by Teperberg Winery; 2021 Barbera, by Teperberg Winery; 2021 Ramato, by Teperberg Winery; 2020 Ramato, by Teperberg Winery; 2020 Teperberg, Inspire, Red; 2018 Teperberg, Legacy, Cabernet Franc;

It’s funny. I live in Beit Shemesh, which is about 35 minutes from Jerusalem and 45 minutes from Tel Aviv. By far the closest winery to me geographically is Teperberg – which is only a 6 minute drive (beating out Tzora, which is about 8 minutes away). But, I haven’t been there to taste wine ever. Why? There are two reasons. First, they have no tasting room and no easy way to really host anyone who came to taste. This will change in the very near future, as I am told that they are very close to finishing a formal visitor’s center and tasting room, which should make tasting at the winery an enjoyable experience.

The second reason I haven’t really visited is that, quite frankly, for the last 10 years or so the winery made a conscious shift in style, in what I assume was a push to increase sales. And while that was very much successful – Teperberg is now Israel’s third largest winery, producing about 10 million bottles of wines per year – the style really didn’t appeal to me.  That is not a commentary on the winemaking. All the wines at Teperberg over the years have been professionally made by three excellent winemakers, Shiki Rauchberger, Olivier Fratty, and Dani Friedenberg.

Luckily, that has changed somewhat. As I noted previously, in 2019 Dani Friedenberg started producing his own wines through the winery. In 2019 and 2020, he produced two wines, a Granache and a Ramato, which is a Pinot Gris made using skin maceration. While I reviewed the 2019 wines, I never got around to tasting the 2020 vintage on release – though I will be correcting that in this post, as Dani invited me to the winery to taste through his new releases as well as few standard Teperberg releases. For 2021, Dani is adding a Barbera to his lineup, which is exactly what I am looking for in an Israeli wine – and quite frankly, the regular Teperberg wines that we tasted were all very nice as well.

As a bonus, at a meeting of a wine tasting group that I belong to where we taste many current releases all blind, I tasted a new wine by Olivier Fratty, the second winemaker at Teperberg. As opposed to Dani, Olivier’s wines are his own private label and not being sold through Teperberg – but I figured it would be nice to include notes on those as well, as it really does show that the team at Teperberg is capable of producing some really nice wines!

Anyhow – enough talking – here are the wines I tasted:

Teperberg Wines

As part of my visit with Dani, we also tasted through a few of Teperberg regular lineup  – of particular interest to me was the Pinot Gris as the same overall plots are used in the production of his Ramato – so it is always nice to see how the exact same grapes can provide different expressions. As it happens, I was also pleasantly surprised by the Legacy Cabernet Franc.

2021 Teperberg, Inspire, White – 12.5% abv –   This particular wine (I am unsure how many Inspire wines there are – but they have gotten rid of the weird made-up names like “Devotage” and now just identify the wines by what is in the blend) is made up of Dabouki, Gewürztraminer and French Columbard. On the nose, you get pith with a little melon. In the mouth, the profile here for the most part is pomelo with good acidity and a nice mouthfeel. Good simple white – makes your mouth happy. A nice quaffer, as they say. 89

2021 Teperberg, Essence, Pinot Gris – 11.5% abv – Not much of a nose on this one. In the mouth, you get some nice lemon with a bit of saline. The finish is nice enough with a bit of minerality there. 88.5

2022 Teperberg, Essence, Pinot Gris – (Sample) – This was a tank sample, and what a difference the year makes! Bracing, mouthwatering acidity and really nice complexity with nice grass, lemon, saline, some floral notes, hay, melon, and more lemon. Wow! I do hope it retains all of that in the final product! 91

2020 Teperberg, Inspire, Red – 12% abv – This Inspire is a Rhone style blend of Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre, and Syrah. On the nose, this is floral with a bit of smoke and some stewed notes. In the mouth, you get a ton of dried fruit – fig, prune, date – mixed with violet. The finish has more of those fruit notes with a bit of smoked meat. The acid is there, but I think you would need a hell of a lot more to balance out the sweet notes. It’s a wine that likely suffers from the vintage more than anything. It’s just not a wine I would enjoy, but that’s me. This was by far my least favorite wine of the tasting. 87

2018 Teperberg, Legacy, Cabernet Franc – 14% abv – Besides the heavy bottle (something I despise) – this is a very solid wine. There are relatively few varietal Cab Franc releases in Israel – and that’s too bad.  This one comes from two distinct plots, one in Alon Shvut and the other near Bat Ayin. This hits all of the notes you would want. On the nose, you have nice bright red fruit, fresh herbs, and some mineral. In the mouth, it opens with nice crunchy red raspberry, toasted herbs, and nice graphite. The acidity keeps this wine super fresh with nice mouth coating tannin as well. The finish is long and mineral driven with graphite, garrigue, and some cigar box. This is one I took home with me, and the flavors continued to develop over the next few days. I would say it’s a wine to hold. Really solid. 92

Dani Friedenberg’s “by Teperberg Winery” Series

I won’t rehash everything I wrote in my post on the 2019 vintage releases of these wines and only say that Dani has a very specific viewpoint and style that he brings to the table with these wines. They are MUCH lighter, crisper wines that are meant to be drunk on the younger side rather than held for long term aging. This year, Dani added a Barbera to the lineup. Where the Grenache and Pinot Gris each present nontraditionally for those varietal wines, the Barbera is very straightforward, done in an overall Italian style. crisp and light. There are so few Israeli Barberas made, and, in fact, there are relatively few kosher Barberas in general, and that’s a shame. Dani’s wines are available in Jerusalem at Kos Shel Bracha and HaMesameach and in Tel Aviv at a store called HaBosser (not kosher from what I understand) or by getting in touch with Dani by email at danielf@teperberg1870.co.il.

2020 Grenache, by Teperberg Winery – 13% abv – While I missed the 2020 release, I really didn’t, as Dani only really released the 2020 Ramato last year and, instead, held the 2020 for release this year. Luckily Dani picked his Grenache early in the season, as he was looking for this light profile – and he was therefore not impacted by the crazy heatwaves at the end of August; he basically had a perfect growing season for what he was aiming for. As one would expect after tasting the 2019, this is a relatively light bodied wine for Grenache. But in contrast to the 2019, this wine retains the full Grenache flavor profile overall – in a crisper fresh interpretation. On the nose, we get some bright red fruit, sweet spice, and maybe some red citrus in the background.  In the mouth, you get nice raspberry, some clove, and cinnamon and a little violet– but the acidity really keeps things in check. Medium tannin here. This wine is not built for aging, so I would drink it now and for the next year or two. Also, this wine is a really nice Seder option and, in general, will go nicely with veal and poultry. While there is not a lot of depth here, it’s a nice wine to drink and enjoy on a hot summer night with no regrets. 90+

2021 Barbera, by Teperberg Winery – 13% abv – The vineyards used for this wine are the same that is used in the regular Teperberg Rosé. As with the rest of Dani’s wines, there is no crush, only pigeage (punch down) by hand. In fact, there is very little done to this wine – no finers, no added yeast, only neutral barrels used. What you end up with a pure expression of Barbera. I have to say it’s a natural addition to this line of wines, as by its nature,  Barbera is fresh and crisp – and quite honestly, if I didn’t know better, tasting this blind I likely wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between this and a true Italian expression. That’s quite an accomplishment (and is not the case with other Israeli Barberas on the market). The wine needs time to open. Once it does, you get really nice crunchy blackberry, black plum and tart red cherry. The acid is REALLY nice and refreshing. The finish is nice and bright and with more juicy blackberry and warm baking spice. While not an overly complex wine, it is SUPER enjoyable. 91.5

2020 Ramato, by Teperberg Winery – 13% abv – We tasted the 2020 and 2021 Ramatos back-to-back just as a standard to see how the wine does after a year (I am happy we did so, as I think this would have been the only wine of Dani’s that I would have missed). What I understood from this is that there is absolute consistency in what you get with this wine in terms of profile. I think the 2019 may have been a touch better, but they are similar. There is still the nice citrus you get from Pinot Gris but that has mellowed, and you get this nice herbaceous quality that comes through as sort of like an essence made of Herbal Tea. It’s almost a soothing wine. Nice and unique. Although I am sure this is not a wine for “everyone,” I think it’s a very nice experience. I think also that there are those who have problems drinking red wines or always prefer whites – and this is really a nice bridge wine, as the skin maceration gives you notes that you wouldn’t normally find in a white – and depth that you absolutely don’t find in Pinot Gris. That’s not to say this wine is super complex or deep. But compared to regular Pinot Gris it sure is. Nice and interesting stuff.  90

2021 Ramato, by Teperberg Winery – 13% abv – tasting the 2021 after the 2020 again reinforced what I just wrote above about consistency – I mean you can cut and paste my notes from the last wine here – nice citrus, essence of herbal tea and maybe a hint of clove or some other kind of spice close to that, with maybe a touch more complexity. The wine does have a bit of a short finish though – so I would call it even with the 2020 in terms of scoring. It was also interesting, having tasted the regular Teperberg Pinot Gris – which is essentially made from grapes from the same vineyard, and this is clearly the preferred expression of those grapes. Having tasted the 2022 PG sample, I am super excited to see how the Ramato will come out. 90

Olivier Fratty

Olivier is actually the second winemaker at Teperberg, having joined in 2006, and I think was responsible for many of my favorite Old World style wines from Teperberg that we saw through 2013. In truth, until he delivered my wines to me, I had never met Olivier in person – very nice guy, and nice to be able to talk about things other than why over a cup of coffee in the morning. Olivier’s wine is only available directly from the winemaker (they are not produced through or sold by Teperberg). There is also limited allocation of only 3 bottles per person as there was very little of this wine made.  Olivier can be reached at 054-800-4152.

2020 L’enclos – 14% abv – The first time I tasted this wine was blind at a tasting group that I attend. I do not like to publish notes from such tastings, but I was really impressed by what I tasted – I think this is one of the nicest Israeli wines I have tasted in a LONG time. The wine is 100% Petit Verdot, is biodynamic [thanks GG], and, like Dani’s wines, was produced with minimum intervention. On the nose blue fruit with herb and menthol and maybe some smoked sausage faintly in the background. In the mouth, you get nice rich blueberry and blackberry with roasted meat, some smoke, a bit of licorice, and toasted herbs. The acid is excellent and the tannin is gripping. The finish is long and flavorful with more black fruit, chocolate, smoked meat, and herbs. If allocation wasn’t so tight I would have opened another bottle to sit with it over a day or two to see how it developed – but what can you do. This wine is really worth getting your hands on if you can. 93

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