Hi folks, today was a great one as I've had finally the opportunity to taste the famous wines of Midbar Winery made by a very talented winemaker, Ya'akov Oryah formerly from the now closed Asif winery.
Ya'akov is arguably one of the best in his profession when it comes to white wines. Most his wines are unoaked and come from the winery's vineyard grown in the desert surrounding Mitzpe Ramon and Arad in southern Israel. Ya'akov is an observant jew following strictly all the rules of kashrut applying in the winemaking process yet due to personal reasons already discussed on this forum dating back with his Asif winery, the wines don't carry officially a proper kashrut certification. His 2008 wines were made following the shmitta rules of Heter Mechira.
Ehud Kave, a partner and winemaker with the tiny Yikvei Haroey located in Kfar Haroey near Chadera, joined us also for the tasting and I was very positively surprised with the 2 wines he brought over with him, a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and a varietal Merlot, both aged for 6 months in old french oak barrels. They make as of now about 500 bottles only and their grapes are sourced from different parts of the Galilee region.
I had the pleasure to welcome as well forumite Stacey B and her husband who enjoyed the tasting with us (together with a bunch of marketing guys from Castel, Gvaot, Lueria and Katlav wineries).
Midbar, Semillon/Sauvignon, 2010: A dry white Bordeaux blend of 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. 20% of the blend was aged for 6 moths sur-lies in new french oak barrels. Light gold, with on the nose lemon peels, guava, apricots, bananas and white pepper with a bit of toasty oak. Medium to full-bodied with on the palate guava, apricots, orange blossom and mandarins, white pepper and a bit of herbaceous notes together with earthy minerals and bracing acidity lead to a long, satisfying finish. 12.5% Abv. I was impressed.
Midbar, Chardonnay unoaked, 2010: Light gold, a nose of golden apples, pineapples and pears. Medium-bodied with on the palate apples, toasted nuts and pineapple, pears and lemon curd with some heat and bitterness on a moderately long finish. The somewhat sour bitterness on the finish put me off a bit. 14% Abv.
Midbar, White 44, 2010: An unoaked blend of 25% Gewurztraminer, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Chardonnay, 20% Viognier and 15% Semillon. Very pale straw, a beautifully aromatic nose of lychee, guava, Granny Smith green apples and honeysuckle. (very) Slightly off-dry and medium-bodied with on the palate guava, green apples, mango, orange blossom, almonds and a hint of candied citrus peels with some pretty good tannins and bright acidity on a long finish. 13% Abv. Lovely.
Midbar, Orange 44, 2010: One of the winery's most interesting wines, this one is an unoaked blend of 52% Chenin Blanc, 24% Chardonnay and 24% Viognier which was fermented like a red wine with the seeds and the skins. Gold with green-ish reflections, the nose features interesting aromas of green tea, citrus peels and nectarines. Full-bodied, the palate offers notes of orange blossom, roasted almonds, pink grapefruit, nectarines, very nice acidity here giving a good backbone and a surprisingly strong tannic structure showing on a very long finish. A very unique wine.
Midbar, Viognier 2010: An unoaked Viognier, pale gold with on the nose white peaches, apricots and sweet tangerines. Medium to full-bodied with on the palate tangerines, fresh apricots, cantaloupe and a hint of pineapple, nice minerality with bracing acidity and quite a long finish. Beautiful Viognier, extremely well-made.
Midbar, Red 55, 2008: 57% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 12 months in french oak barrels. Garnet in color with on the nose red cherries, raspberries and tobacco leaves, full-bodied with on the palate sour cherries, red plums, raspberries with hints of green bell pepper, milk chocolate, very good acidity and mouth-coating tannins on a long finish. 14.5% Abv. Very french in style lacking the typically israeli sweet wood notes, a very good wine.
Yikvei Haroey, Merlot 2011: 100% Merlot 6 months in used french oak barrels. Dark garnet, with on the nose jammy raspberries and dark chocolate, full-bodied with on the palate ripe raspberries, blackberries, sweet oak, mediterranean herbs and notes of freshly grounded coffee with nice acidity and mouth-coating tannins on a long finish. Very nice, reminded me a lot of Yarden Merlot Odem 2006.
Yikvei Haroey, Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 months in used french oak barrels. Black cherries, baker's cocoa powder and cherry liquor. Full-bodied with on the palate cherries, red currants and milk chocolate leading to a long mouth-filling finish with big tannins. Very nice wine but not very Cabernet Sauvignon in style, quite pleasant.