Tzuba Winery: My Annual Visit And Tasting Notes (K)

By: Daniel Rogov

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?By: Daniel Rogov

This morning, because of a foul-up on the part of the Israeli railroads, I had to spend an extra hour at Tel Aviv’s central rail station. I am a man who enjoys railroad stations. At Paris’ Gare de Lyon one can always pass time at Le Train Bleu; opposite the station at Weisbaden is a kiosk offering what may be the world’s finest knockwurst and bratwurst; when debarking from a train at St. Moritz on the way to the Badrutt Palace hotel one is met by a 1928 Rolls Royce complete with bar and caviar-based snacks; and, of course New York’s Grand Central Station hosts one of the finest oyster bars in the world. At the Tel Aviv station ? mediocre coffee, croissants that would make most French men and women burst out in tears, hot dogs that I consider edible primarily by either very hungry people or, if appropriate, their pets. Not much to do in an hour at Tel Aviv’s Savidor railroad station.

Things looked up considerably up as I finally arrived at Beit Shemesh, there to be met by winemaker Paul Dubb who drove with me to Kibbutz Tzuba, there to do primarily barrel and advance tastings. Set on the Kibbutz, one arrives after a drive through the Jerusalem hills, a drive that is often breathtakingly beautiful, ranging between the pastoral and the dramatic. And indeed, this is a winery that is doing very nicely thank you.

Tzuba’s first releases, of 30,000 bottles were from the 2005 and South African born and trained winemaker Paul Dubb issues wines in three series: the top-of-the-line Hametzuda that is produced only in selected years; Tel Tzuba of varietal and blended wines, and the popularly priced Hama?ayan. The winery also produces a red dessert wine. The winery?s grapes all come from the kibbutz?s own vineyards, those containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Shiraz, Malbec and Pinot Noir grapes as well as white grapes Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Current production is about 40,000 bottles annually and plans are to increase to about 50,000 from the 2010 vintage.

The 2008 wines tasted are due for release within the next month or so and prices given for those are approximate at this stage.My thanks to Paul and to Eitan Green, general manager of the winery for a fine tasting, their courtesies during my visit and for their good company.


Tzuba, Chardonnay, Tel Tzuba, 2009: Light bright gold in color, developed partly in stainless steel, partly in barriques (50% of which were new), and done with no malolactic fermentation. Opens a bit flat but don’t let that put you off for all this needs is a few minutes in the glass to reveal aromas and flavors of green apples, peaches and nectarines. Medium-bodied, with appealing notes of Anjou pears that come in on the finish. Drink now-2012. NIS 70. Score 88. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, Shiraz, Tel Tzuba, 2008: Oak aged for 14 months, inescapably Shiraz, showing appealing notes of plums and red berries, those complemented nicely by notes of smoky and spicy oak. Medium- to full-bodied with tannins that grip gently, all leading to a generous and mouth-filling finish. Best from 2011-2014. NIS 90. Score 89. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, Shiraz, Tel Tzuba, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with gently caressing tannins and notes of vanilla and spices from oak-aging. Opens with a subdued nose but that comes around nicely with time in the glass and then goes on to reveal generous red currant, wild berry and Oriental spices, those set off nicely by notes of saddle leather and dark chocolate that come in on the finish. Tempting. Best from 2013. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, Merlot, Tel Tzuba, 2008: Garnet towards royal purple with orange reflections, full-bodied with soft, gently mouth-coating tannins and showing fine concentration and balance. On first attack red currants and raspberries, those yielding to blackberries and an appealing hint of bitter herbs. Drink now-2014. NIS 70. Score 90. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, Merlot, Tel Tzuba, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Dark, youthful royal purple in color, medium- to full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins, showing roasted nuts and black fruits on the nose. Opens slowly to reveal black currants and ripe plums, those supported nicely by notes of black olives and licorice. Finishes long with tannins rising. Best from 2013. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tel Tzuba, 2008: Oak aged for 14 months, showing garnet towards brick red. Generously aromatic with notes of berries and spicy sawdust on the nose, showing medium- to full-bodied and still firm tannins, those needing just a bit of time to settle in. On the nose and palate generous black fruits and notes of bitter-sweet chocolate carrying on to a generous finish. Drink now-2013. NIS 70. Score 89. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tel Tzuba 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Dark garnet towards royal purple, a bit stingy on the nose but opening to show generous blackcurrant, blackberry and citrus peel notes. Somewhat chunky tannins rise on the finish but those promising to integrate nicely as the wine develops. Best from 2012. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, Cabernet Franc, Limited Edition, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Oh what a rich and distinctive wine this promises to be. Still in its infancy but already showing fine balance and structure. Full-bodied, with fine concentration and still firm tannins but already showing elegance. On first attack currants and blueberries, those followed by overtones of mocha, Mediterranean herbs, sweet cedar and tobacco. As a bonus, an earthy overlay while avoiding the greenness that this grape can show. Best from 2013 and promising to cellar nicely. Tentative Score 91-93. K

Tzuba, Pinot Noir, Tel Tzuba, 2007: Pinot with a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. Medium-dark ruby in color, medium- to full-bodied, with generously caressing soft tannins. On first attack floral, mineral and raspberries and then to black cherries, green tea and notes of both licorice and saddle leather. A multi-layered wine. Drink now?2012. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba Pinot Noir, Tel Tzuba, 2008: Deep garnet, with a wood-rich nose, medium- to full-bodied, with generous tannins and resembling Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot more than Pinot Noir. On the nose and palate raspberries, ripe red plums and cassis. Drink now-2013. Score 87. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, Pinot Noir, Tel Tzuba, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Fermented partly with wild yeasts, partly with yeasts said to be suited especially to the variety, showing ruby towards garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with generous tannins in fine balance with spicy wood and appealing red fruits. Needs time to show its complexity. Tentative Score 87-89. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, HaMetzuda, 2007: Dark garnet, with a nose redolent of black fruits and licorice, a full bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, 80%, 15% and 5% respectively. Showing intense and concentrated with firm tannins and generous wood now settling in comfortably. On first attack plums and notes of mocha, those followed by a generous array blackberry, cassis and orange peel and, on the long finish notes of bitter herbs and cherries. Long, generous and mouth-filling. Enjoyable now but best 2011-2015, perhaps longer. Score 92. NIS 100. K (Re-tasted 23 May 2010)

Tzuba, HaMetzuda, 2008 (Advance Tasting): A dense, concentrated and well-focused blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec, showing almost impenetrably dark garnet in color, full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins and notes of spicy wood, those parting nicely to show plums, black cherries and blackcurrants, those on a background of black olives and bitter almonds, all leading to a long finish. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from 2012 to let the wine come into its own and then cellaring comfortably until 2016, perhaps longer. Score 92. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)

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