?By: Daniel Rogov
Not too long ago I received sample bottles of the latest releases of the wines of the Gush Etzion winery. Today I finished my tastings and following are my notes. My thanks to Shraga Rozenberg for bringing the wines to Tel Aviv.
Located at the Gush Etzion Junction near Jerusalem, the winery is owned largely by vintner Shraga Rozenberg and partly by the Tishbi family, and has its own vineyards in the Jerusalem Mountains providing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot as well as Chardonnay, Viognier and Johannisberg Riesling grapes. First releases were of about 2,000 bottles in 1998 and the winery currently produces about 30,000 bottles annually. The winery is capable of producing 50,000 bottles annually. A new winery is now under construction with the potential for future production of up to 100,000 bottles.
Wines are released in three series. Emek Bracha, the top-of-the line wines are blended reds aged for 20-22 months; the mid-range series of varietal wines is Alon Haboded (The Lone Oak)l the basic line is Nachal HaPrin.
The White Wines
Gush Etzion, Gewurztraminer, HaAlon HaBoded, 2009: Light gold in color, opening with a nose of browned butter, freshly cut flowers and slate-like minerals. On the nose and palate a potpourri of summer fruits, lemons and tangerines, those matched nicely by a note of eucalyptus honey. Ripe and refined. Drink now-2012. Score 89. K (Tasted 4 Jun 2010)
Gush Etzion, White Riesling, HaAlon HaBoded, 2009: Fresh and bright, this dry Riesling opens with notes of peaches and peach-pits, those going on to reveal quince and green apples. Fine lime-flavored acidity and a hint of pea-blossoms rise on the finish. Drink now-2011. Score 89. K (Tasted 4 Jun 2010)
Gush Etzion, Sauvignon Blanc, HaAlon HaBoded, 2009: Golden straw in color, light and fragrant with generous melon, peach, nectarine and lemon fruits highlighted by notes of freshly picked herbs. Juicy and refreshing. Drink now. Score 88. K (Tasted 4 Jun 2010)
Gush Etzion, White Wine, Nachal Pirim, 2009: A half dry blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc, 14% White Riesling and 11% Gewurztraminer. Light gold in color, deeply floral, opening with generous tropical and citrus fruits, those going on to quince and green apples. Lacking that extra bit of acidity that would have made the wine more refreshing. Drink now. Score 85. K (Re-tasted 4 Jun 2010)
Gush Etzion, Riesling, 2008: My earlier tasting note holds firmly. Light golden in color, opens with a light petrol note that calls to mind Riesling more than Gewurztraminer. On the nose and palate apricots, pears and spices. Lacks the acidity that might have given it more liveliness and with a not fully wanted hint of sweetness that rises on the finish. Drink now. Score 84. K (Re-tasted 4 Jun 2010)
The Red Wines
Gush Etzion, Dry Red Wine, Emek Bracha, 2007: A blend of 87% Merlot and 13% Cabernet Franc, showing dark garnet with a note of adobe brick. Oak-aged for 20 months, showing full-bodied with firm tannins and generous spicy wood and in need of decanting at this stage of its development. Opens to reveal black and red berries, cassis and notes of freshly picked Mediterranean herbs, all on a light earth background. Approachable now but best 2011-2014. Score 90. K (Tasted 31 May 2010)
Gush Etzion, Dry Red Wine, Nachal HaPirim, 2007: A full-bodied Bordelaise blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc (60%, 26%, 9% and 5% respectively). Aged in French barriques showing gently mouth-coating tannins and a gentle note of spicy cedar wood, those parting to reveal currant, blackberry and earthy notes. Drink now-2012. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 31 May 2010)
Gush Etzion, Cabernet Franc, 2007: Dark garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, with generous soft tannins and notes of spices and vanilla from the oak in which it aged for 18 months. On the nose and palate an appealing array of blackberries, black cherries, cassis and, from mid-palate on notes of Mediterranean herbs and saddle leather. Drink now-2012. Score 89. K (Tasted 31 May 2010)
Gush Etzion, Dry Red Wine, Emek Bracha, 2006: Aged in French oak barriques for 22 months, a dark garnet blend of 85% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. Opens with a blow of spicy wood and firm tannins, those happily receding in the glass to reveal blackberry, raspberry and licorice notes with tannins and wood rising on the finish. Drink now – 2011. Score 87 K (Re-tasted 31 May 2010)