?By: Daniel Rogov
This morning found me on Moshav Meishar on Israel’s southern coastal plain, there to do tastings. 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 Mourvedre grapes, and currently produces about 7.000 bottles annually of red wines in a Reserve and a Meishar series. Meishar remains one of the few small wineries in which the vineyard (of about 2.25 acres) is quite literally in the backyard of the family home.
I am going to take the liberty of delving a bit into politics (well, perhaps not so much politics as into the bureaucratic nature of political bodies), a topic I usually avoid on the forum but which seems appropriate in this case. Despite the obvious relationship between this winery and agriculture and the full clarity that this is a family endeavor and far from an “industry”, various governmental bodies have been insisting that the winery be moved away from the vineyard to a recognized “industrial area”. In addition to robbing the Smilanskys of the intimacy of their endeavor, such a move, especially for a winery of this small size would involve a disproportionate and outrageous expense. That in turn a dramatic rise from prices for their wines that are now quite reasonable to those that would be far higher. Let me simply say that if we Jews are known as a hard-headed people, Israeli bureaucrats are about sixteen times as hard-headed as the rest of us. As I ponder on this and similar problems in the wine industry, it is little wonder that I like to use the word “bureaucrap”.
Back to the more pleasant things of life. Both before and after my tasting, I enjoyed good French press coffee. No less important, I enjoyed the tasting and my thanks to Ze’ev and Chaya for their warm greeting and their good company. As well as my blessings to the Israeli railroad that surprised me pleasantly by getting me to and from Yavne precisely on time.
The winery’s internet site can be found at http://www.meishar.co.il/meishar_eng.html . There is no formal visitors’ center (the family living room serves that role) but visitors are welcome, especially if they have the courtesy to phone in advance. Best telephone for Chaya Smilansky is 054 4295830.
Meishar, Merlot, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Dark cherry red toward garnet, reflecting its 10 months in oak with gently caressing tannins and a light note of vanilla. On first attack cassis and raspberries, those making way in the glass for notes of crushed wild berries, all on a background of earthy minerals and mocha. Best from 2012-2016. Tentative Score 88-90. (Tasted 25 Jan 2011)
Meishar, Merlot, Reserve, 731, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Medium- to full-bodied, medium dark garnet with a violet robe and showing silky soft tannins that and a bare kiss of spicy wood that caress gently. Opens in the glass to reveal raspberries, red currants and light notes of roasted hebs. On the long finish tannins rise together with fruits and a hint of red licorice. Best from 2012-2016. Score 90. (Tasted 25 Jan 2011)
Meishar, Shiraz, 2007: Dark ruby, medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins and a gentle touch of the oak in which the wine aged for about ten months. Not an intense or concentrated Shiraz but a gentle and elegant one, showing rich and round, with aromas and flavors of wild berries and ripe plums complemented by notes of what at one moment seems like bittersweet chocolate and at the next espresso. Drink now-2015. Score 90. (Tasted 25 Jan 2011)
Meishar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 730, 2007: Developed in barriques for about 16 months, showing dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied. A round wine, with silky tannins and appealing notes of sweet and spicy cedar wood, opens in the glass to reveal traditional Cabernet Sauvignon aromas and flavors of blackcurrants and black berries. Lively acidity and overlays of dark chocolate and Mediterranean herbs add to the complexity of the wine. Best from mid-2011-2015. Score 90. (Taste 25 Jan 2011)
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 with raspberries and black cherries, those making way for show blueberry, cassis and citrus-peel notes, all on a background of freshly picked Mediterranean herbs. Simultaneously complex and easy to drink. Drink now?2013. Score 90. (Re-tasted 25 Jan 2011)
Meishar, Shiraz-Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon, #41, 2006: Oak-aged for 11 months, a blend of 60% Shiraz and 20% each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Moderately dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with a red fruit nose opens to reveal aromas and flavors of red plums, blackcherries and bitter citrus peel all on a background that hints of cigar tobacco and saddle leather. Very nice indeed. Drink now-2013. Score 89. (Tasted 25 Jan 2011)
Meishar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 730, 2004: Dark garnet, with just a hint of clearing at the rim. Full-bodied, this red reflects its 18 months in oak with its once near-searing tanninw and sweet cedar notes, now integrated nicely with black cherries, currants and light chocolate mousse flavors that sneak in quietly on the finish. Drink now or in the next year or so. Score 89. (Because the bottle opened at the winery was corked, I re-tasted this one on my return in my own tasting room). (Re-tasted 25 Jan 2011)
Also re-tasted were the Meishar Cabernet Sauvignon wines of 1998 and 1999. As predicted at my last tastings of these two wines, the first has gone on to puppy paradise and the second is well on its way out, showing nicely for a few moments after pouring and then, quite literally, falling apart in the glass. Fair enough?
As to prices, interestingly enough, lower at Wine Depot than at the Winery. Wine Depot’s internet site is at http://www.winedepot.co.il/default.asp
Meishar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 730, 2007: NIS 70
Meishar, Merlot, 2006: NIS 60
Meishar, Shiraz-Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon #41, 2006: NIS 60
Meishar, Merlot, Reserve, 731, 2008 NIS 75
Meishar, Shiraz, 2007: NIS 60