(For the thread, go to Daniel Rogov’s wine forum)
Daniel Rogov recently visited the Israeli boutique winery of Vitkin. Here are his thoughts and tasting notes for the recent and soon-to-be releases of this Israeli winery.
Established by Doron and Sharona Belogolovsky on Moshav Kfar Vitkin on the central Coastal Plain, this winery released its first wines from the 2002 vintage. Bordeaux-trained winemaker Assaf Paz relies on Carignan, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Viognier, French Colombard, Johannisberg Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat grapes from vintners in the Jerusalem hills as well as several other parts of the country. The winery, specializing in creative blends and producing several varietal wines, is currently producing about 35,000 bottles annually. The Vitkin series is of age-worthy wines, and the Israeli Journey wines are meant for relatively early drinking.
Vitkin, White Journey, 2008: A blend of 55% Viognier, 35% French Colombard and 10% Gewurztraminer, the Viognier aged in new French oak, the others sur lie in stainless steel tanks. Flowery on both the nose and palate, surprisingly happily by its crisp and refreshing acidity, and opening to reveal generous ripe summer fruits. Lively and refreshing. Drink now. Score 88. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, White Journey, 2007: My earlier tasting note holds firmly: blend of 60% Viognier, 30% old vine French Colombard and 10% Gewurztraminer, aged on its lees partly in stainless steel and partly in large oak casks. Light to medium-bodied, freshly aromatic and showing red grapefruit, tropical fruit and white peaches on a lightly spicy background. Dry but with a very pleasant hint of sweetness. Finishes fresh and lively. Drink now. Score 88. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Johannisberg Riesling, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Combining the charms of Rhine and Alsace Riesling, light gold in color, medium-bodied, with fine balance between fruits and acidity. Opens on the nose to show white peach, grapefruit and white mulberries, those on a lightly spicy background. Give this one a bit of time and it may show a light petrol note. Drink from release-2011. Tentative Score 89-91. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Johannisberg Riesling, 2007: Light golden with a green tint, showing a delicate floral nose, that hinting of petrol and then opening to aromas and flavors of lemon and lime, green apples and a tantalizing hint of white pepper. A delicate and elegant wine. Drink now–2011.NIS 85. Score 89. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Johannisberg Riesling, 2006: Showing even better than at earlier tastings. Light gold in color, opens with a floral nose and goes on to reveal apricot, grapefruit, bitter orange peel and notes of green apples. Since release has come to show traditional Riesling traits – spicy and long, with the flowers of Alsace and the petrol note of the Rhine. Drink now–2012. Score 90. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Pink Journey, 2008: Light cherry red, a rose primarily of Carignan and Syrah with small amounts of Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc blended in. Crisply dry and generously fruity, shows a low nose but opens to appealing aromas and flavors of strawberries, raspberries and black cherries, those with floral and spicy overtones. Medium-bodied, crisply dry and refreshing, strong enough to stand up to chicken and veal dishes. Drink now or in the next year or two. NIS 65. Score 88. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Pinot Noir, 2007: Made from low yield vines and harvested early, oaked for 10 months, with silky tannins with just enough of a grip to catch our attention. Dark in color for a Pinot but showing fine varietal traits, opening with black cherry, red plums and raspberries, those supported nicely by notes of spices, cedar wood and minerals. Supple, fresh and rewarding. Showing even better than at barrel tastings. Drink now-2012. Score 90. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Red Journey, 2007: Medium to full-bodied with soft tannins and gentle wood influences, a round and generous, deep garnet blend of Carignan, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Opens with a light floral note, goes on to red plums, currants and berries on a light peppery and earthy-mineral background, all leading to a tempting near-sweet finish.Drink now–2011. NIS 69. Score 87. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Carignan, 2006: Showing even better than at earlier tastings. Made entirely from Carignan grapes and developed in new 360 liter French oak casks for 15 months. Intensely dark garnet in color, full-bodied, with deep, firm tannins just starting to settle in, deep garnet in color and showing fine extraction. On first attack, shows primarily spicy black fruits, those yielding to “let loose’ notes of mint and freshly turned earth. Simuiltaneously concentrated and intense while warm and generous with fruits and tannins rising on the long finish. Approachable and enjoyable now but best 2020–2013. NIS 95. Score 91. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Ripe and polished, a blend of 86% Cabernet Franc and 14% Petit Verdot. Aged in new French oak for 15 months and showing gentle near-sweet cedar notes along with soft tannins that are integrating nicely. On the nose and palate currants and black cherries, those parting to reveal notes of toasted white bread, figs and tobacco. On the long and mouth-filling finish floral and mocha hints. Drink now–2013. NIS 115. Score 91. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Petite Sirah, 2005: Made from old-vine grapes and oak-aged for 16 months. Full-bodied, impenetrably dark purple-black, with deep spicy overlays and firm tannins all coming together beautifully. On the nose and palate blackberry and blueberries, those matched nicely by notes of white pepper, peppermint, chocolate and cedar wood, and on the long finish enchanting hints of raspberry jam. Drink now–2012. Score 91. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)
Vitkin, Petite Sirah, 2006: Showing much as at barrel and advance tastings. Reflecting its youth with a dark royal-purple color, medium to full-bodied, with fine extraction and with lively notes of spices, white pepper, tobacco and cedarwood supporting generous blackberry and huckleberry fruits. Chewy tannins rise on the finish along with a hint of grilled beef. Best 2010–2014. Score 90. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)