ELLA VALLEY TASTING

20/12/2014
David Rhodes more »

Doron Rand took over as CEO of the established and respected Ella Valley Winery January 1st, 2014 (and had previous dealings in Israeli wine including executive positions at Recanati and Golan Heights) and I got to sit down with him recently at the winery while winemaker Lin Gold (who came onboard during the later part of the 2010 harvest) was on vacation. We talked a while before even tasting the wines and I expect to interview him in the future when the wines aren't such a pleasant distraction. Wines predating 2011 were under the previous winemaker's ( the revered Doron Rav Hon now of Sphera) supervision while Lin's maturing understanding, vision and influence is seen most in wines 2011 and forward though she would have been responsible for blends and aging of 2010 wines. The winery is expanding production dramatically from 220,000 bottles a year in 2013 to about 300,000 in 2014 by just cutting back how much of their cherished grapes they sell off to other wineries.Ella Vally

2013 Ella Valley Ever Red Rose (13.5%) NIS 55 91 points

Pacifying salmon hue made from 100% free run juice from mostly Merlot complemented with dashes of Cabernet Franc and Syrah.  Fresh ruby grapefruit, strawberries and cream, herbs and floral lilacs made from grapes specifically harvested early to gain desirable acidity. This is far from being a "free wine" made from 100% bleedings. Doron says this blush is more challenging than almost any other wine trying to find the right balance of factors and they only make a modest 12,500 bottles. A great match for chicken, salmon, heartier salads and cream sauced pastas.

 2013 Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc (12.5% alc.) NIS 75 93 points

90% Sauvignon Blanc 10% Semillon These two Bordeaux white grapes are historic partners in France and becoming more common partners in Israel. Pomello, pineapple, mango, cut grass, green pepper, white pepper and lemon zest deliver a rounder finish than often expected in a Sauvignon Blanc which would lead me to believe it could be a better food match for dishes that pair better with bigger whites like Chardonnay and Viognier like poultry dishes and heavier fish dishes. Olive oil sautéed Sea Bream, vinegar based salads, grilled asparagus, artichoke hearts are expected good pairings.

2012 Ella Valley Chardonnay (13.5% alc.)  NIS 85 91 points 

8-10 months oak (depending on the barrel) is evident on the nose but not overwhelming and a small amount was not oaked aged to retain and booster the whole wine's fruitiness. The wine that was oaked went through total malolactic fermentation and sur lees aging contributing to a big and bold Chard that still shows hints of terroir, brown pears, yellow delicious apples,vanilla, butterscotch and some limestone minerality. Roasted chicken, roasted veggies, pan fried veal parmesan,

2011 Ella Valley Everred Cabernet/Merlot (14.5% alc.)  NIS 55 90 points

This Cab/Merlot blend (58/42% this vintage) is a commercial backbone of the winery and it shows the commitment of the winery to grow without sacrificing quality. This wine used to sell for 75-85 NIS and it doesn't seem to skimp though selling for a much lower 55 NIS. Only six months oak aging in 2 and 3 year old barrels assures the fruit isn't hiding. Sweet cherry, red plums and raspberries and this 2011 is the first release of a red that Lin Gold had 100% control from at Ella Valley from the vineyard to the winery. A very versatile food friendly red that will create anticipation for Lin's other 2011 reds that should be released within the year..

2010 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc (14.5%) 120 NIS 93 points

96% Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 14 months separately in French oak. Cassis, Black raspberry, candied strawberries, violets, lilacs, rose petals, eucalyptus, graphite, black pepper and tobacco leaves. This is a nuanced Cabernet Franc with a nice balance of fruit, tannins and acidity but not the kind of Cabernet Franc might mistake for a Cabernet Sauvignon. I would suggest this is not a wine for novices but a food friendly red wine and eggplant, duck, roasted veggies, veal sweetbreads are great matches.

2010 Ella Valley Petite Sirah (15%) NIS 119 89 points

Syrah and Petite Sirah are being phased out as single varietals at Ella Valley at least for the seeable future and they will merge into a Syrah dominating blend (about 60/40 respectively). This 100% Petite Sirah aged 16 months in oak is a young but approachable wine with dark black berries, hints of vanilla and creamy mid palette and black raspberries that should age well and it could use hours if not days now to decant but ready now to stand up to meats you choose for BBQ's or grilling.

2010 Ella Valley 32/35 Vineyard's Choice (15 Alc. %) NIS 210 94 points

Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah fermented and oak aged 17 months in French oak separately before blending. The % of each grape isn't disclosed as they don't want the varietals to be remembered as much as the experience.

Black dense forest berries, dark cherries, ground pepper, forest floor, sweet tobacco and espresso. Easy but serious well balanced wine with maturing tannins and pleasant acidity.

"The vineyards choice isn't made every year NO 2011 or 2013 for instance and the vineyards decide as much as the winemaker"

The 32/35 speaks to the location of the vineyards and winery at 32 degrees North latitude and 35 degrees East longitude and is a wine Ella Valley wants to be an ambassador for the character of their terroir.

2007 Ella Valley Muscat Dessert White (15% Alcohol, 375 ml.) NIS 55 91 points

Muscat grapes delver notes of honey, vanilla, caramel, crème brulee, almonds, apple and pears, hints of mandarin oranges. Match with a goat cheese napoleon, almond torte, apple pie alamode, peach cobbler or what I tried hot peppers stuffed with cream cheese. Only 11,000 bottles made.-

Ella Valley can be reached at (02) 999-4885 in Israel or 972-2-999-4885 from overseas

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