By: Daniel Rogov
This morning (Sunday, 9 May) I met at my “true office” (Arcaffe on Rehov Basel) with Hai Vortman of the Vortman winery. With his winery literally in his Haifa home, Hai Vortman is a dedicated garagsite. Relying entirely on grapes grown Mt. Carmel, Vortman has planted two vineyards ? Netiv Ofakim (planted in 2003, literally in front of his home) and one planted in Shfeya. Grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Mourvedre, Petite Syrah, Pinotage and Carignan. First production, from the 2007 vintage was of 1,000 bottles and 2008 production was about 2,000 bottles. Releases for 2009 and 2010 will be of e 4,000 and 6,000 bottles respectively.
After a pleasant coffee it was back to my tasting room, there to taste barrel samples of the 2009 releases and to re-taste the wines of 2008 and 2007. My thanks to Hai for coming to Tel Aviv to bring the wines and for his good company.
Vortman, Shambour, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Ruby towards garnet, medium- to full-bodied, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carignan (54%, 35% and 11% respectively) showing soft tannins that open to reveal red and black berries and cassis, those supported nicely by notes of chocolate and tobacco. Somewhat acidic on the finish at this stage and needing time for its elements to come together. Best from release-2014. Tentative Score 87-89. (Tasted 9 May 2010)
Vortman, Shambour, 2008: Dark garnet with orange and purple reflections, a blend of Merlot, Mourvedre and Petite Syrah (68%, 30% and 2% respectively). Aged in French oak barriques for 6 months, medium-bodied, with gently mouth-coating tannins and hints of spicy wood, opening in the glass to show appealing currants and ripe plums, those on a background that hints comfortably of tobacco and dark chocolate. Drink now-2012. Score 88. (Re-tasted 9 May 2010)
Votrman, Shambour, 2007: Somewhat of an “oddball blend” of 50% Merlot and 25% each of Petite Sirah and Pinotage.Medium-dark garnet, reflecting is 10 months in oak with a nose that is quiet when the wine is first poured but opens to show floral and earthy aromas and then goes on to show generous blackberries and purple plums, those supported by notes of roasted herbs and green olives all with the tannins and fruits rising nicely on the moderately-long finish. Drink now. Score 88. (Re-tasted 9 May 2010)
Vortman, Netiv Ofakim, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Garnet towards royal purple a blend of 54 Carignan, 30% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, those fleshed out with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Medium- to full-bodied, with gentle wood influences and silky, gently caressing tannins, those parting to reveal an appealing array of wild berry, cassis and citrus peel notes all on a background of dark cocoa, and earthy minerals. Potentially the best to date from the winery. Best from 2011. Tentative Score 88-90. (Tasted 9 May 2010)
Vortman, Netiv Ofakim, 2008: A blend of 38% Carignan, 31% Malbec, 22% Merlot and 3% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. A super-dark potpourri of just about everything in the vineyard if you like, but one that comes together very nicely indeed. Ripe and floral, with ripe tannins and generous minerals and herbs to support currants and berries on a background of earthy minerals. An impressive effort. Drink now-2013. Score 89. (Re-tasted 9 May 2010)
Votrman, Netiv Ofakim, 2007: Medium- to full-bodied, a deep garnet blend of 70% Carignan and 20% Merlot, the rest made up of small parts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot (note that each of the five traditional red Bordeaux grapes are found here). Medium- to ful-bodied, developed in French oak for 10 months, showing soft, gently caressing tannins and opening to reveal generous currant, blackberry and ripe purple plum fruits, all on a lightly spicy background. Drink now-2011. Score 88 (Re-tasted 9 May 2010).
Vortman, Petite Sirah, 2008: Petite Sirah blended with 25% Merlot. Dark garnet, full-bodied, with firm tannins and generous spicy wood notes, those in fie balance with purple plum, blackberry and tobacco notes, all leading to a long, mouth-filling finish on which both tannins and fruits rise nicely. Drink now-2014. Score 90. (Tasted 9 May 2010)
For those interested, the 2008 Shambour goes for NIS 77 per bottle and the Ofakim for NIS 115. Vortman can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 054 7522221 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 054 7522221 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. The winery’s internet site can be found at http://www.vortmanwinery.com