?By: Daniel Rogov
I try hard not to too often make myself a nuisance but today was one of those days. This morning my train to Beit Shemesh was delayed, thus causing me to keep a winemaker twiddling his proverbial thumbs while he waited to pick me up. This afternoon on return I headed off to a tasting in Tel Aviv and being somewhat tired from my hassles with the railroad, arrived an hour early and instead of waiting for the formal unveiling asked that the bottles be opened so that I could make my way home at a reasonable hour. Truth be told, I also had an ulterior motive in asking for the bottles to be opened early, that being the knowledge that food was to be served with the tasting and I, as is my wont, preferring to do my tastings with minimal interfering aromas and flavors.
Whatever, my afternoon tasting, quite successful, was of six newly released wines from the Odem Mountain Winery. My thanks to those of the Alfasi family who smiled tolerantly at my request for an early tasting. And yes, indeed I had a fine nap on returning home.
More to the point, founded by the Alfasi family in 2003, the winery is situated in a modern facility on Moshav Odem in the northern Golan Heights. It relies primarily on grapes grown in its own vineyards?one of which is organic – those supplemented by grapes from contract vineyards on the Golan, in the Upper Galilee, and in the Judean Hills. Currently producing wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc, production for the 2008 vintage was about 75,000 bottles and from the 2009 vintage about 85,000.
The top-of-the-line series is Alfasi Reserve, the mid-range series are Odem Mountain and Volcanic. The former label of Nimrod is no longer produced. The wines have been kosher since the 2007 vintage.
Odem Mountain, Merlot, Volcanic, 2008: Deep royal purple in color, medium- to full-bodied, reflecting its 12 months in half new, half two year old barriques with gentle notes of spicy wood. On the nose and palate a generous array blackberries, raspberries, cassis and licorice. On the generous finish an appealing hint of bitter almonds. Drink now-2012. NIS 80. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 23 May 2010)
Odem Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic, 2008: Deep ruby towards garnet, with gently gripping tannins and a “just-right” note of sweet cedar, opens in the glass to reveal a well-tuned melange of black and red fruits, those with an appealing overlay of red licorice. Generous and mouth-filling. Approachable and enjoyable now but best 2011-2013. NIS 80. Score 89. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)
Odem Mountain, Shiraz, Volcanic, 2008: Showing every bit as well as at barrel tastings. Dark garnet towards royal purple, a concentrated and full-bodied wine with its once firm tannins now integrating nicely with notes of vanilla and cinnamon from the barriques in which it aged. On the nose and palate plums, wild berries, cassis and, on the long finish with tannins rising appealing notes of anise and leather. Deep, long and complex. Best 2011-2015. NIS 90. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 23 May 2010)
Odem Mountain, Merlot, Reserve, 2007: Aged in new oak, mostly French for one year and then wisely transferred to used oak (2 years old) for an additional six months, showing a well-tempered hand with the wood. Medium- to full-bodied, soft and round, with just a hint of earthy minerals to support blackberry, black cherry and currant notes. On the finish appealing hints of black olives and bitter herbs. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from 2011-2015, perhaps longer. NIS 125. Score 90. K (Tasted 23 May 2010)
Odem Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve2007: Full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely and reflecting its 15 months in oak with notes of smoky vanilla. A fruit rich nose and on the palate traditional blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, those complemented by notes of roasted herbs and tobacco along with a hint of black licorice. Drink now-2012. NIS 125. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 23 May 2010)
Odem Mountain, Alfasi, 2006: Dark, almost inky garnet in color, full-bodied, with still firm tannins just starting to settle in but already showing fine balance and structure. The usual Alfasi blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, oak aged for 24 months (one year in new oak, one year in 2nd year barriques. Opens in the glass to show deeply aromatic with fine blackcurrant and wild berry fruits, those backed up by notes of freshly cut herbs and bitter-sweet chocolate. Long and generous. NIS 220. Drink now-2014, perhaps longer. Score 91. (Re-tasted 23 May 2010)