By: Daniel Rogov
In addition to whatever other definitions may exist, Terroir is a distributor of Israeli wines. The company also owns a wine bar (on Tel Aviv’s Rehov Rambam). Last night (Tuesday, 28 October), I attended a tasting of the wines of three of the wineries represented by the company – Meishar, Red Poetry and Ben Shoshan. My tasting notes follow. My thanks to the various winemakers and their representatives as well as to those from Terroir for their courtesies.
Terroir’s internet site can be found at http://www.terroir.co.il/page.asp?page_id=1&page_title=עמוד%20הבית
and there a full list of the wineries they represent.
Founded in 1991 by Ze’ev and Chaya Smilansky on Moshav Meishar in the southern coastal plains, this small winery relies entirely on its own vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Muscat grapes, and currently produces about 10,000 bottles annually of red wines in a Reserve and a Meishar series.
Meishar, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005: Dark garnet toward royal purple, medium- to full-bodied, with fine balance between still-firm but already integrating tannins, spicy wood and well-focused currant, dark plum and black cherry fruits. Hints of ground pepper and anise that linger nicely. Drink now-2011. Score 90. (Re-tasted 28 Oct 2009)
Meishar, Merlot, 2006: Deep ruby, medium- to full-bodied, oak-aged for 18 months and showing soft tannins that grip gently and stand up nicely to notes of spicy wood. Opens to show blueberry, cassis and citrus peel notes, those on a background of freshly picked Mediterranean herbs. Simultaneously complex and easy to drink. Drink now-2013. Score 90. (Tasted 28 Oct 2009)
Meishar, Blended Red, 2006: Ruby towards garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, a blend of 40% each Shiraz and Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Reflecting its 14 months in barriques with sweet-and-spicy cedar notes, those parting to reveal a generous array of blackberries, purple plums and currants all complemented by gentle hints of tar and licorice. Drink now-2012. Score 88. (Tasted 28 Oct 2009)
And then on to the Meishar 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon brought especially for the tasting and the second of what is probably the last existing bottle of the Reserve wine of that vintage each rewarding in its own way and both surprising by having kept or even outlived their original promise. Interesting especially to note how the regular release has aged more delicately than the reserve wine.
Meishar, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2000: During its youth a firm and intense wine, with generous oak and tannins. Still dark and deep, the tannins and oak now settled in nicely and continuing to highlight blackberry, blueberry, currant and plum fruits, those on a background of a pot-pourri of spices and leading to a near-sweet finish. My original drinking window had suggested drinking until 2006. Now fully mature but drinking beautifully. If you have any on hand drink now or in the next year or so. Score 89. (Re-tasted 28 Oct 2009)
Meishar, Cabernet Sauvigon, Reserve, 2000: As in its youth, medium- to full-bodied with its once generous spicy oak now comfortably receded and continuing to show berry, currant and plum fruits along with notes of licorice and sweet-chewing tobacco. Still reflects its original fine balance but taking on the first hints of oxidation. Drink up. Score 88. (Re-tasted 28 Oct 2009)
I visited the Red Poetry winery on 25 May (my tasting notes from that visit can be seen at viewtopic.php?f=29&t=24544&p=209951&hilit=Red+Poetry#p209951 Last night did, however, offer the chance to taste several new releases.
Established in 2001 by Dovi Tal on Havat Tal, the winery has its own vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Carignan, Cabernet Franc, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Shiraz, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Riesling and Gewurztraminer grapes. The winery releases wines in three series, Reserve and Red Poetry. Current production is about 15,000 bottles annually
Red Poetry, Aaronsohn, 2007: A blend of 75% Mourvedre and 25% Syrah, oak-aged for 18 months, showing, deep garnet in color with firm tannins and smoky oak starting to settle in nicely now. Opens to show a generously spicy medium- to full-bodied red with ripe blackberry, blueberry and black cherry fruits, those complemented nicely by notes of vanilla and on the medium-long fiish what seems at one moment a chocolaty note and at another one of cola. Best from mid-2010-2013, perhaps longer. Score 89. (Tasted 28 Oct 2009)
Red Poetry, Carignane, Red Stains, 2007: It’s spelled Carignan in most of France and Cariñena in Spain, so precisely why the winery chose to use the “e” at the end of the name of the grape as is done only in parts of California eludes me. Spelling doesn’t count, however, for the wine shows all of the traits of the variety. Medium- to full-bodied, with toasty vanilla and licorice notes to highlight red and back cherry and boysenerry fruits and, on the medium-long finish a touch of earthy minerality. Drink now-2012. Score 88. (Tasted 28 Oct 2009)
Red Poetry, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2006: My earlier pre-release tasting note holds firmly. Blended with 2 – 3 % Petit Verdot and Merlot, dark garnet towards royal purple, medium- to full-bodied, with firm tannins and generous spicy wood but already showing the balance and structure needed. As this one develops look for blackberries, cassis, vanilla and, on the long finish a generous hint of licorice. Generous and mouth-filling. Drink now-2012. Score 88. (Re-tasted 28 Oct 2009)
Established by agronomist Yuval Ben-Shoshan on Kibbutz Bror Hail in the northern Negev Desert, this winery released its first wine from the vintage of 1998. Desert-raised grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and other grapes are drawn from the area of Kerem Ben Zimra in the Galilee. The winery produces wines in three series, Kfar Shamai, Har’el and Avdat. Production is currently about 10,000 bottles annually.
Ben Shoshan, Shiraz, Kfar-Shamai, 2007: Dark garnet, full-bodied, with firm and chunky, country-style tannins that add a somewhat coarse note. Opens in the glas to show black fruits on an earthy-mineral background. Drink now. Score 80. (Tasted 28 Oct 2009)
Ben Shoshan, Merlot, Kfar Shamai, 2007: Garnet towards purple, reflecting its 14 months in oak with notes of spices and vanilla. Somewhat biting tannins tend to hold back the black fruits and mineral notes that lurk underneath. Not for cellaring but best from mid-2010. Score 82. (Tasted 28 Oct 2009)
Ben Shoshan, Cabernet Sauvigon, Kfar Shamai, 2007: Dark ruby towards garnet, medium- to full-bodied, showing good balance between wood, tannins and fruits. On the nose and palate wild berries, currants and dark chocolate and, on the moderately long finish an appealing hint of licorice. Drink now-2011. Score 86. (Tasted 28 Oct 2009)