Psagot – My Annual Tasting (K)

By: Daniel Rogov more »

?By: Daniel Rogov

This early afternoon (Tuesday, 20 January), I met with Ya’akov Berg and Josh Hexter at Lilith Restaurant in Tel Aviv to do a tasting of the Psagot wines and then continue with a light lunch. The wines tasted included advance releases of the 2008 wines as well as a vertical of the winery’s flagship wine Edom.

Located in the northern Jerusalem Mountains, overlooking Wadi Kelt (Nachal Prat), the winery was founded by Na?ama and Ya?akov Berg, who planted their first vineyards in 1998. The oak barriques used by the winery are stored in a cave containing ancient pressing facilities, which maintains 90% humidity and temperatures up to 18 degrees Celsius. Relying on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Viognier and Chardonnay grapes, the winery?s top-of-the-line wine is a Bordeaux blend named Edom. Regular varietal wines are produced in the Psagot series and there is also a Port-style wine. Production from the 2008 vintage was of about 80,000 bottles for 2009 90,000 bottles.

More important than numbers, whether to either the critic or the wine-lover in general is following a young winery whose quality improves on an annual basis. No question but that Psagot moves to four stars in the next edition of my Israeli and kosher wine books. Further information on the winery can be found in Hebrew, English, French and Russian at their internet site at or by telephone to 02 9978222.

My thanks to Ya’akov and Josh for a fine tasting and their good company. My thanks as well to the waitress at the restaurant who, with great patience and a most pleasant countenance continued bringing and clearing wine glasses and napkins to our table.


The 2008 Red Wines

Psagot, Shiraz, 2008: From four year old vines that have just come on line, the winery’s first varietal Shiraz release. Oak-aged, as are nearly all of the Psagot wines for about 13 months, showing deep royal purple with soft tannins and gentle spicy wood notes integrating nicely. On the nose and palate an appealing array of ripe cherry, boysenberry and pomegranate fruits, those on a spicy, medium- to full-bodied background with tannins and notes of minerals rising on the finish. Drink from release-2013, perhaps longer. Score 88. K (Tasted 20 Jan 2010)

Psagot, Merlot, 2008: Part of the signature line of the Psagot wines is a clear, clean minerality and that shows nicely on this 100% Merlot. Dark garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, with soft, gently gripping tannins and spicy cedar wood notes integrating nicely and parting to reveal raspberries, red currants and a appealing note of dark chocolate on the finish. Drink from release-2013. Score 89. K (Tasted 20 Jan 2010)

Psagot, Cabernet Franc, 2008: It looks like Cabernet Franc, it smells like Cabernet Franc and it tastes like Cabernet Franc and that’s a darned good reason to call it Cabernet Franc. Fully faithful to the variety, offers up an array of complex and elegant black cherries and purple plums, those matched nicely by notes of cedar, minerals and asphalt and, from mid-palate on, notes of tobacco and sage. A supple and long wine. Drink from release-2015. Score 91. K (Tasted 20 Jan 2010)

Psagot, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008: Perhaps the best to date from the winery. Medium- to full-bodied, leaning to the full, dark garnet in color, with still firm tannins and spicy cedar wood waiting to integrate but already showing fine balance and structure. Opens in the glass to reveal generous aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackcurrant and plum fruits, and, on the finish, appealing hints of green olives and fresh herbs. Approachable on release but best from 2011-2016. Score 92. K (Tasted 20 Jan 2010)

The Edom Vertical Tasting

Psagot, Edom, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Young and still holding on tightly but opening slowly in the glass to reveal its charms. A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot and about 4% each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Super-dark garnet, with still gripping tannins and cigar-box notes in fine balance with fruits, minerality and acidity. Big and ripe with intense currant, wild berry, spices, cedar and sage with the berry notes rising on a long, mouth-coating finish. Best 2011-2017. Score 91. K (Tasted 20 Jan 2010)

Psagot, Edom 2007: A Bordeaux blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvigon, 19% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. Showing medium- to full-bodied (leaning towards the full), with its once firm tannins and generous spicy wood and acidity now integrating nicely, opens in the glass to show generous spicy black fruits, those yielding to notes of cassis and Mediterranean herbs. Long and generous. Drink now-2013. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 20 Jan 2010)

Psagot, Edom, 2006: My earlier tasting notes hold firmly. A blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot, with the remainder made up of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Medium- to full-bodied, generously but not aggressively oaked, with firm tannins just now starting to settle in. Opens with red currants and raspberries, those parting to make way for plums and black fruits on an earthy-herbal background, all with a light bitter streak that some will find appealing and others not. Drink now. Score 86. K (Re-tasted 20 Jan 2010)

Psagot, Edom, 2005: My earlier tasting note holds firmly. Deep garnet in color, a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. Opens with a rich vanilla and white chocolate nose, then settles down in the glass to reveal aromas and flavors of black cherries, plums and currants. Medium- to full-bodied, with soft but mouth-coating tannins, a good touch of spicy cedar wood, and, on the finish, an appealing earthy minerality. Drink now. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 20 Jan 2010)

Psagot, Edom, 2004: Surprises by its still firm tannins and richly spicy oak, but those part nicely to show currants, blackberries and earthy minerals, the tannins and berries rising nicely on the finish. A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot, oak-aged for 14 months, drinking very nicely now but possibly singing its swan’s song and not for further cellaring. Drink now. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 20 Jan 2010)

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