A homemade Shiraz 2009 review


I had a comment from Yoni asking me to review some more affordable, bottom to middle of the range wines for a change. Well, I certainly do intend to do this. Having reviewed quite a few NIS 100 plus wines I have at least shown that spending this kind of money does not guarantee a descent wine. Indeed, some have been quite atrocious. However, many have been outstanding showing greater complexity and depth than their poorer brothers from the same winery.
I’m sure that this particular review was not exactly what Yoni had in mind although I hope he’ll find it of interest nonetheless. I intend to review a wine that cost me absolutely nothing!
The story goes like this. I was chatting to a few people at the shul Kiddush on Simchas Torah and they mentioned that there was a guy who sits at the other end of the shul who actually owns his own vineyard in the Beit Shemesh region and produces, along with his son-in-law,  their own wine, all be it on a very small scale. They recommended I get to know him. I sought him out and we entered into a very long and enjoyable tête-à-tête, each I believe, impressing the other equality with knowledge and opinions.
The next Friday I had to go out to help someone with a computer problem. When I returned there was a bottle of wine waiting for me. My wife informed me that the son-in-law had dropped it off to me with a note that this was a Shiraz from 2009 and would I like to drink it and let him know what I thought. Well, this was something quite singular. I had the chance to review a homemade wine from an amateur specialist.
The wine bottle had no label on it and obviously came with no Teudas Hechshir (Kashrus Certificate). I made some discreet inquiries from local Rabbanim who vouched for the religiosity of the winemaker. Both the vineyard owner and his son-in law who I believe actually made the wine, were yiras shamayim frum Jews.
I had a chat with the son-in-law on Motzei Shabbos and he informed me that the Shiraz was 100% organic, made only from natural yeast of the grape skins with no commercial chemicals added whatsoever. The wine had been matured in glass demijohns (large jars) although I have no idea for how long before it was siphoned off into wine bottles.
I kept the Shiraz in my wine cooler set to 15 degrees for the week. Before going to shul I removed it from the cooler to let it warm up to almost room temperature. I estimate the temperature was around 18 to 19 degrees Celsius when we opened the bottle. We opened it on Friday night after we had come back from shul and let it breath for just over 15 minutes before pouring the wine into glasses. Another 5 minutes passed by whilst we got everyone to the Shabbos table and I finally got to recite Kiddush and drink the wine.
Upon pouring the wine I examined the colour of the Shiraz. The liquid was murky, opaque and full of sediment.
Colour was an earthy dark brown red. The sediment certainly did not put us off and was to be expected having not gone through any professional filtering process. In fact the sediment only added to its homemade charm.
Nose: I could not detect any fruit notes of any significance but there were plenty of green spices and something else.  We spent a few minutes in vain trying to identify that something else. It wasn’t organic in nature, nor metallic or chemically. Perhaps it was a fresh warm rubber odour similar to clean clothes straight out the washing machine?  My middle son however said that it kind of reminded him of olive oil from a bottle.
Kiddush recited we drank the wine. The initial taste was wild berry followed very quickly by a kind of (as my dear wife pointed out), a cherry wishniac liqueur character, old style brown cough syrup which reminded me somewhat of a Palwin No.10 from childhood (but without the sugary sweetness) and would you believe a slight taste of Marmite (vegetable yeast extract spread, popular in Britain)? Also present was fresh parsely and wet green leaves.

Finish brought a taste of soft tannins but having swallowed, virtually no aftertaste of any flavour was left in the mouth.
We left the remainder of the bottle until after HaMotzei and then drank it with challa, egg salad and shmalz herring, the tannins now having less of an influence on the palette. Again, once swallowed, there was little or no noticeable aftertaste.
With food, we found the Shiraz quite drinkable but perhaps a touch too much liqueur like (or sugarless cough syrup) in nature. The winemaker certainly has my respect and admiration for this fine wine which tasted a darn site better than many commercial wines we’ve tried.
A most interesting experience and one which I hope to repeat if they are kind enough to give me some other wines to try.

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