On Tuesday, 2 September, I made my way to the new Ramat HaChayal branch of Tiv Ta'am for a wine tasting. Although Tiv Ta'am has earned its name largely as the country's first non-kosher supermarket chain, not many have realized that the company has its own import arm specializing in wines and the selection of wines that I saw prior to the tasting, of imported as well as local wines, was quite impressive. Wines on offer range from the inexpensive and not specially sophisticated (those quite often selling for three or four bottles for NIS 100) to a collection of very impressive and often quite expensive wines.
The wine sections of the larger branches are definitely worth visiting. Be there no question, however, that especially with upper-end, expensive wines a bit of comparison shopping is advised as it would be at any other chain of wine stores.
Barossa Valley Estate, Shiraz, E&E Black Pepper, Barossa, Australia, 2002: One of Australia's consistently best and most interesting Shiraz wines and this year no disappointment whatever. Impenetrable royal purple in color, full-bodied, with gripping tannins and tremendous concentration. On opening attack black cherries and blackberries and Oriental spices, those opening to reveal notes of stewed plums, bitter-sweet chocolate and licorice all on a generous background of black pepper. Long, mouth-filling and intense yet coming together as a round, coherent and elegant whole. NIS 375. Best 2010-2020. Score 96. (Re-tasted 2 Sep 2008)
Laurent Perrier, Brut Rose, Champagne, n.v. (Kosher Edition): Depending on how the light hits, pink towards orange or salmon pink in color, a medium-bodied Champagne, made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes. Light notes of yeast and oak highlight a fascinating array of cherry, red berry, apple and orange peel notes. Fine, long-lasting sharp bubbles, a long mousse and a hint of yeasty white bread that rises on the long finish. NIS 575. Score 91. K (Tasted 2 Sep 2008)
Lamblin et Fils, Chablis, Cru Vaillon, 1er Cru, 2006: Bright gold with green tints, opens with a rich pineapple and lemon curd nose, goes on to notes of citrus peel, apples and flinty minerals, those supported nicely by a hint of fresh herbs on the long finish. Full-bodied, packs a punch but shows elegance. To find this one at its best hold for a while. Best 2009-2012. NIS 179. Score 90. (Tasted 2 Sep 2008)
Chateau Tour Prignac, Grande Reserve, Medoc, 2005: Medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins and gentle notes of spicy wood balanced nicely by red currant and berry fruits, and an appealing note of licorice that comes in from mid-palate. Drink now-2011. NIS 135. Score 88. (Tasted 2 Sep 2008)
Heredad Ugarte, Martin Cendoya Familia Reserva, Rioja, 2003: Super-dark, almost impenetrable garnet, full-bodied, with firm, even somewhat gripping tannins and spicy, vanilla-rich wood in fine balance with fruits. Aged in oak for 24 months, a blend largely of Tempranillo, the balance of Graciano and Mazuelo (the local name for Carignan), opens to show a distinctly plum-based personality, the fruits supported nicely by hints of orange rind and spices. Drink now-2010. NIS 125. Score 88. (Tasted 2 Sep 2008)
Leasingham, Riesling, Magnus, Clare Valley, Autralia, 2005: A fine example of how a wine can be simple but simultaneously delicious. Golden straw in color, light- to medium-bodied, with good balancing acidity to highlight generous grapefruit, pineapple and citrus fruits, all on a just spicy enough background. Refreshing on its own and a good match to fish and seafood dishes. Drink now-2009. Score 87. (Tasted 2 Sep 2008)
Heredad Ugarte, Crianza, Rioja, 2004: Medium-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely with smoky oak and showing black cherry, plum, chocolate and tobacco notes, those matched by an appealing hint of bitter herbs. A good bet with small cuts of beef, lamb or pork or with meat-based stews. Drink now-2010. Score 87. (Tasted 2 Sep 2008)
Bodegas Santa Ana, Malbec, La Moscote, Argentina, 2005: Dark garnet towards royal purple, with generous wood and firm tannns yielding slowly in the glass to reveal plum and berry jam notes, those with a hints of white chocolate on the palate. Not complex but a good match to food. NIS 69. Score 85. (Tasted 2 Sep 2008)
Banrock Station, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, S.E. Australia, 2005: An easy-going red wine, garnet in color, medium-bodied, with soft tannins and opening to show generous currant, blackberry and orange peel notes. Nothing complex here but a good quaffer. Score 85. (Tasted 2 Sep 2008)