Review of the Har Odem’s Volcanic Merlot 2007 AGAIN!!!


Yes, I know that I have already done a review of Har Odem’s Volcanic Merlot 2007 but I have discovered that there are two versions floating about. Both equally priced with the same item barcode of 7-290012-527012 but they are, at least according to everyone around our Sukkah table, very very different. I tried writing to the winery to get an explanation but have as yet received no reply.

Identical Barcodes
The first obvious difference is that this second bottle, which I bought in a large wine shop in Machane Yehuda, has the new style label, identical to the 2009 vintage.

Different labels and different taste

Now, it does happen that the winery produces two or more labels for the same wine. Usually one for local consumption, all in Hebrew, the other in English. The Ramat HaGolan winery and Teperberg 1870 both do this. This is not the case here as both labels, as you see, are written in Hebrew.
If you have read my review of the first version of this vintage which we drank on Rosh Hashana,  you will know that I praised it very highly. Just to recap:
The viscosity seemed thicker than the 2009 merlot and hinted at a greater alcohol content. There was just a hint of musky wood but this was mixed and overpowered by a sweet rich ripe fruit aroma. The overall impression was tantalizing.
Tasting was a pure delight from beginning to end. I swirled the wine around in my mouth to make sure that all my taste buds had a fair share of this nectar.  Rich, medium to heavy ripened forest fruits served in an old wooden bowl and spoon. There were dry spices and mineral notes and very subtle smoke.
Finish was fruity sweet and full bodied with no signs of bitter tannins having had four years to settle down and mature in the bottle.”
Now for the second version with the new style label.
Although the old style label version gives some information about the wine such as the maturation time, this second label version gives absolutely no information on its label about the wine whatsoever. Strange!

Upon sticking your nose in the glass, there was no sign of any mature musky wood. In fact, had I not known that this was a 2007 vintage, I would have said that this was a relatively young wine, say one or two years old. Overall impression was that this was a youthful, lively wine.
Tasting notes were very interesting and puzzling. It was nothing like the mineral Organic Merlot 2009 nor the first version of the 2007. There were mineral notes there but barely recognisable. With the 2009 vintage, as I wrote in my review from August, it has this “pebbles in mountain water” taste which seems to be its major character trait; I’d say its signature. What was most noticeable about this second version of 2007 was its medium light body, tarty fresh black currents and other fruits, some dry spicy notes and loads and loads of tannin at the end, like a young wine which still had some calming down to do. However, this wine was supposed to be four years in the bottle!!!!?
Comparison Table
Organic Merlot 2007
Old Style Label
New Style Label

Heavy, high viscosity
Light to medium
Smelling notes
Musky Wood aroma
Fresh, young, lively
Smelling notes
Sweet rich ripe forest fruit
Fresh tart black currents
Smelling notes
Slight smokiness
Absolutely no smokiness
Smelling notes
Dry spice
Dry spice
Tasting notes
Ripe forest fruit served in a wooden bowl
Freshly squeezed tart black currents with spices
Finish
Fruity sweet and full bodied
Short lived, light fruity.
Tannins
No signs of bitter tannins
Prominent tannins consistent with a young wine

Now I have not tried the 2008 vintage because this was a Shmitta year and the winery bottled that year’s harvest with a teudas hechshir (kashrus certificate) of a local Rabbanut relying on the Hehter Mechira which I do not hold by. (See here for detailed explanation of Shmitta).
So we are left with a real mystery on our hands. If anyone can explain what is going on here I’d be most obliged.
Final words: If you find the Organic Merlot 2007 with the old style label, buy it and drink it now. If you see the 2007 with the new style label then either avoid it or if you are adventurous, keep it for a couple of years and then open it when hopefully, all that tannin has calmed down a bit.

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