February 18, 2009

Yarden Mount Hermon Red

If you've read even a few of the now 250 posts on this blog, you know I like to drink broadly. I'm not a cab guy, or syrah guy, or Burgundy guy, or what have you. I value diversity in all things, and wine is no exception.

I've reported on Austrian gruner veltliner, Australian stickies, Oregon pinot noir, Loire romorantin, fizzy red wine from Italy's Oltrepo Pavese, and any number of other common and uncommon things on this blog. To this point, however, I've neglected the wines of Israel.

So, the 2007 Yarden Mount Hermon Red from the Golan Heights in Galilee. I've tried a few things from Israel over the years, but never this Israeli favorite that I heard about this past harvest working along an Israeli winemaker who happens to live here in Portland.

As I've learned, the Mount Hermon is an unusual wine in that it's released just a few months after harvest. If the Bordeaux variety grapes come in to the winery in September, they're in bottle as new wine in time for Hanukkah three months later. Hearing about the wine, I thought it must be bubble gummy or otherwise "fake" tasting. How else to make cabernet and family palatable by December?

Sampling the 2007 offering, I'm very impressed. This is quinessential table wine, and at $9 or $10 in Israel and a few dollars more here in the U.S., this is much more what inexpensive table wine ought to be compared to the typical mass market stuff you find in that price range.

Instead of the sugary sweet but harsh, even green flavors of so many domestic red wines in this price range, the Mount Hermon red is ripe without sweetness, with a nicely fruity but savory aroma. The flavors are varietal, with cherry and raspberry fruit and a pleasant green pepper and tobacco quality from the cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc. The tannins are light but finely textured with juicy acid and a nice winey character overall.

This wine won't change your life, but I really enjoyed it's honest expression of Bordeaux variety wine. I'm not surprised to hear this is popular wine in Israel, and apparently it may soon be distributed here in Oregon. I'll look for it.


Ricky Nelson said...

I went to a Yarden party...

Wine Tasting Guy said...

Great post & happy to see you trying out an Israeli wine.

The 2007 did not have any Cab Franc in it, but previous vintages have.

If you like this wine you MUST check out some other fabulous Yarden standouts. A MUST have is the Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon. the 2004 was recently name the first Israeli wine to make the Wine Spectator TOP 100 list.


Andy Perdue said...

Vincent, I had the pleasure of visiting Golan Heights Winery back in '97. It's run by a collective, and we stayed at the adjacent kibutz that evening.

I am used to hearing propane cannons going off in vineyards, which are used to scare off birds. I thought that's what I heard all night while at the kibutz. Turns out it was the Israeli Brigade practicing its mortar fire, as the Syrians were making noises about taking back the region.

The winery is straight out of California in style, and I've enjoyed Yarden and Golan Heights wines many times over the years.

Now, have you checked out Lebanese wines?

Vincent Fritzsche said...


Thanks for the comment. Glad you "see" you here. I can't imagine making wine in that environment.

About Lebanese wine, yes, I've tried a few producers, most notably Musar. I still have a bottle of '89 Musar in the cellar (such as it is). When I worked for a California retailer years back, I had the nice opportunity to taste many vintages of Musar at a lunch with Serge Hochar. Some of those wines, including the '81, were astoundingly good. The white...not nearly as good to my taste, though it has its fans.

Vincent Fritzsche said...


Thanks as well for the comment. I did have (I believe) the 2004 Yarden Kazrin Cabernet Sauvignon at a dinner a few months ago. Whatever vintage it was, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Can you recommend other Israeli producers that are available at least somewhere in the US?

Dudley said...

Wow, mortars going off in distance. Sounds like winemaking in a high-threat environment. I've really enjoyed the Israeli wines I have tried.

林依晨Amber said...
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