On the evening of Thursday, January the 21st, I attended a wine tasting of Benyamina wines given by Avi Ashman’s Israeli Wine Lovers Club. Asaf Paz, one of the two wine-makers at the Benyamina winery, presented a selection of wines in all price ranges.
Eran Elhalal, the club’s chef, prepared a nice assortment of cheeses (sharp and mild), fruits and sweets. Raphael Sutton, who edited Israel Food and Wine magazine and wrote on wines for Globes (Israel’s premier financial publication) was the resident expert together with Eran and Avi.
Asaf started the presentation with a Chardonnay 2007, we tasted it first at room temperature. It was pleasantly tart, with hints of citrus, grapefruit and apricot. When chilled it became fruitier with peach and floral notes. It’s made in the Champagne style since the Chardonnay grape together with its red grape cousins, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier is part of the triumvirate of grapes used for Champagne. This grape which easily adapts to every climate, no matter how extreme, is also used in large proportions in the production of classic sparklers around the world.
We followed with Yogev 2007, that combined Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. With Cherry and berry notes, the Shiraz gave it a smoky spiciness. Made from classical warm weather grapes, it won’t age as well as other higher end wines.
We continued with another Yogev 2007 selection, also a dry red. This wine combines 20% Petit Verdot (grown in the Negev Mountains, it has high acidity and produces fruity tannins) and 80% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s aroma brought out mint and black currant tones. Ages well and has a very unique strong personality.
Next we had a Reserve Merlot 2005, with hints of cherry and sweet spices. it goes well with lamb shanks and strong flavored meats. Next we had a delightful Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.
Sapir 2004 followed this wines is aged for 16 months in the cask and 4 years in the bottle before it leaves the winery. It has 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Shiraz, and 25% Merlot, fruity with floral accents and sweet spices.
Odem 2005 was next, this wine has 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier it has a nice smoky taste and goes well with charcouterie meats.
Finally we got to taste Benyamina’s top of the line, The Cave – Hama’arah 2006, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. A superior wine that is aged not in the main winery but in a 300 year old cave in the heart of the Carmel Mountains, hence its name. This top quality wine, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, the grapes were harvested in the Upper Galilee. The wine was aged over 24 months in new French oak barrels and will continue to age well. Truly a superb wine.
Tomorrow, March 17, the Israeli Wine Lovers Club will be meeting again in Manhattan, at:
Quint, Miller & Co.
34 West 38th Street (between 5th & 6th Ave.) NYC
The buzzer, on the ground floor, is # 6.
As Avi’s email advised: “Earlier today I got the wines for the “How Sweet It ISrael” tasting from the Royal Wine Company (the largest Kosher wines importer/distributor). The list is great — Carmel Shaal, Gamla White Riesling, Carmel Moscato, and more. Eran (our Club’s Chef) promised to make special treats for the tasting…. So, are you ready for a sweet feast as I am? We’d like to see you at the event.
You can RSVP at their web site: http://www.meetup.com/Israeli-Wine-Lovers/calendar/12765713/ The cost for this tasting is $36 at the door. Hope to see you there.