Tuesday, September 12, 2017

2013 Psagot’s Edom: Nectar of Israel

Israeli wines suffer from an image problem, and many wine stores contribute to this issue though it probably isn't a conscious intent. Many consumers equate Israeli wines with only Kosher wines, so they will choose to ignore Israeli wines unless they are actively seeking a Kosher wine. Many wine stores separate their wines by country or region, such as France or California. Yet when it comes to Israeli wines, these same stores generally don't have an "Israel" section but they have a "Kosher" section," where all the Israeli wines are placed. So why wouldn't an uninformed consumer consider all Israeli wines to be Kosher?

Although many Israeli wines are Kosher, recent years have seen a surge of Israeli wines, especially produced by boutique wineries, imported into the U.S. which are not Kosher. These wines are worthy of being placed in their own regional section, and not hidden in a wine store under the Kosher label. I've tasted a number of these wines, finding many to be high quality and delicious. It is time consumers learned more about these Israeli wines. It is also time that wine lovers embraced quality Kosher wines just because they are tasty wines.

Wine making in Israeli extends back to biblical times but when Muslims eventually took control of the region, winemaking took a serious hit, especially when Muslims tore up many of the vines, destroying the indigenous grapes of the region. It wasn't until the late 19th century that winemaking returned, due to the efforts of Baron Edmond de Rothschild and Sir Moses Montefiore. It isn't a surprise that they planted French varietals in Israel, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Chardonnay. It is those type of grapes which still dominate in the vineyards of Israel.

Na’ama & Yaakov Berg planted some vineyards in 1998, founding the Psagot Winery in 2003. The term "Psagot" translates in Hebrew as "peaks" and also refers to an Israeli settlement, in the West Bank, located on Mount Tawil. This settlement was established in 1981, receiving its name not only because it was located near the peak of the mountain, but also because the settlement was intended to reach a "peak" in settlement and the study of the Torah. The winery is located in this region, with a fantastic view of the Wadi Kelt and the Edom mountains. There are also several other wineries in this region.

One of the more unique aspects of the Psagot winery is that they have two barrel storage cellars, one which is a more modern version, and the other which is in a cave that dates back to the Second Temple era (530 BEC-70 CE). This cave was found to contain some ancient winemaking equipment. The replica coin depicted on their wine label is a copy of an actual coin (from 66 CE-73 CE) that was found when they were excavating the cave. The cave maintains a 90% humidity and temperatures up to 18 degrees Celsius.

Currently, the wine produces about 10 different types of wine, with a total annual production of approximately 300,000 bottles, exporting about 65% of that production. They produce a number of single varietal wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz and Chardonnay, as well as a Bordeaux blend and a Port-style wine.

I received a media sample of their Bordeaux blend, the 2013 Psagot’s Edom ($35), which is a blend of 63% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and then underwent malolactic fermentation in French and American oak barrels. It was finally matured in French and American oak for about 14 months.

The wine possesses a deep red (almost purple) color, and an appealing nose of dark berries and mild spice. On the palate, it is a full-bodied wine with smooth, well-integrated tannins, and lush, enticing flavors. There are rich flavors of ripe plum, blackberry and black cherry, accented by intriguing spice notes, hints of vanilla, and a touch of minerality. This well-balanced and complex wine drinks easily and ends with a lengthy, satisfying finish. Though you could enjoy this wine on its own, it also would pair well with hearty foods, from roast lamb to a pasta Bolognese. I enjoyed this wine with grilled burgers and it worked well together.

For those concerned with such matters, this wine is Kosher, but I hope most people see this as an Israeli wine and not just a Kosher wine. This is a wine that most wine lovers would enjoy and which deserves a place on their table. As people begin to start drinking more full-bodied reds as the temperatures drop this fall, the 2013 Psagot Edom would be an excellent choice!

1 comment:

Sue said...

Sounds marvelous - where in Boston is it available?