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.