Har Odem (Odem Mountain) Volcanic Merlot 2009

A few blog posts back I wrote a review of the Har Odem (Odem Mountain) winery where I gave the Chardonnay 2010 high praise. I mentioned that we also bought the Volcanic Merlot 2009 while we were there for NIS 80 and that I would update you when we got round to opening this bottle up.
Well, we opened the Merlot 2009 two weeks ago for Friday night Kiddush. The winery literature they gave us in English at the winery informs us that these Merlot grapes originate at Kfar Yuval in the upper Galil, in the foothills of the Ramim ridge. It is Israel’s most northerly vineyard. The vineyard has a unique but diverse soil, a combination of basaltic earth and lime conglomerates. The grapes were handpicked in a night harvest and rushed to the winery for slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine was then aged in oak barrels for 12 months.

I must apologise for neglecting to take photos of the wine labels. I’ll try and add them by the end of the week, beli neder.

Colour was a rich dark berry colour, typical of a Merlot. Sticking ones nose in the glass brought more fresh berry notes mixed with fresh leaves and rain water. Tasting the wine simply confirmed what I had sniffed from the glass. After the initial characteristic Merlot richness of blackberries, it then reminded me of a Pinot Noir with its slightly earthy taste.

The best way to describe the taste is like picking wild ripe blackberries straight from the bush after a heavy rain and popping them straight in the mouth. Everyone agreed that there was a very pronounced “mineral water through mountain pebbles” taste exactly like the Har Odem Chardonnay. This seems to be the winery’s trade mark and a very agreeable one it is as well.

Aftertaste was a rich long lasting deep sweet berry flavour with more delicious muddy watery pebbles. Soft tannins were present but did not distract from the sweetness in any way. Simply Delightful! We all loved it. This wine is simply perfect for Friday night or Yom Tov Kiddush. Like the Chardonnay, we could have very easily have opened another bottle. I cannot recommend this Merlot highly enough.

So enthralled was the whole family with this wine that this week I went to the wine shop in Geula to buy some more Har Odem wines for Rosh Hashana. Chaza"l tell us that it’s really important to start the year off right, like building strong foundations for a new building. The fact that we all wanted Har Odem Merlot for the Rosh Hashana Kiddush is indeed the highest praise we could give.

It has been two months since I asked Avi (the owner) to see if he could get in some Har Odem Chardonnay so I wanted to find out if he now had some in stock. Unfortunately, Avi told me that Har Odem had not sold well in his area and he would not be ordering any Chardonnay, at least for the foreseeable future as he thought there was no market for it in his area.

It seems that the Yidden of Geula like the heavy soggy musky woody wines of Ella Valley. Avi said that he was willing to sell me the last three Har Odem Merlot 2009s he had in the store for NIS 200, just to get rid of them. I jumped at the chance. I told him that it was their loss and our gain! Now I’ll have to find another outlet for my second favourite winery.


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