Segal “Shel Segal” Merom Galil Chardonnay 2010

As promised, I am reviewing a modestly priced Chardonnay which we drank for Shabbos Kiddush last week.

Segal “Shel Segal” Merom Galil Chardonnay 2010 NIS 39

Segal Winery has a name for cheap and cheerful stainless steel stored table wines so it came as a bit of a surprise when I came across this Chardonnay. What caught my eye and made me reach out for it from the shelf was the silver medal printed on the side of the label with a picture of a barrel. At first glance it looks like this wine had won a prize medal but on closer inspection it was actually a notice that this wine had been matured in oak casks. I must assume that this is a true statement and that they haven’t simply chosen the much cheaper wood maturation process of adding a sack of wine soaked wood chips to stainless steel tank. Maturation in barrels is unusual indeed for such a cheap wine as you can appreciate that an oak matured wine entails far greater investment in man power, storage and time. The question is though, was it worth it?

The label is almost entirely inky matt black like a photocopy document. There is no artwork save a pseudo paint brush stroke of grey that looks from a distance as if the label has been torn. The grey lettering on the black background made it difficult to photo. It took me quite a few attempts to obtain a result which was readable for the blog post.

I know, I know, those of you who have read my previous posts know that I keep going on about the understated simple wine label designs are the most effective and this label is certainly simplistic in design. The impression however is that instead of transmitting confidence, to me it transmits a lack of thought as if they couldn’t be bothered to put any effort into the design whatsoever because, after all, this is just a cheap wine isn’t it? This is shooting yourself in the foot because this non-design of a label almost completely cancels out the enticing effect of that silver medal. Still one thing it does do is informs you on the front label of exactly what this wine is which is after all, the main reason for the label.

The back label has quite a long explanation of the process that went into the producing this wine. It’s very impressive for such a budget wine. No wonder they decided to boast about their exertions with that silver medal on the front label.

Rabbanut HaRashi LeYisrael (Rabbanut of the Chief Rabbi of Israel)
Chatam Sofer Petach Tikva
HaRabbanut Gezer Region

A rough translation of the back label:

The wine is made with superior chardonnay grapes from the winery’s vineyards in the Galilee. To make the wine we use only the “first juice” that is immediately transferred to French and American Oak barrels for fermentation. In some of the barrels, alcoholic and malolactic fermentation is halted in order to leave a wine with a slightly acidic bite. After fermentation, the wine is aged with its sediment in the barrels for 7 months, creating a rich and complex wine. The wine combines the aroma of exotic fruits originating from the grapes with a vanilla and roasted nut butteriness from the oak barrels and yeast sediment.

We kept the wine cooler at 16 degrees Celsius until we came home from shul where upon we opened the bottle and let it breathe for approximately 15 minutes. I poured the wine into the glasses noticing the classical Chardonnay yellow colour of the wine.

Nose was not unpleasant combining a slight aroma of wood with notes of canned fruit cocktail. Swirling the wine in the glass seemed to bring no discernable increase is fruitiness. That was odd.

Upon reciting the last words of Kiddush DeRabbanon we drank the wine. There was a definite woody if slightly artificial taste of woodiness with more canned fruit. Nothing identifiable at all. Just a fruity mixture. Everyone drank and made the same comment. “Not bad!” It tasted like a Chardonnay, there was no doubt. The wood was there, the fruit was there, it wasn’t lacking in flavour and as I mentioned earlier, the colour was right. However, I noticed that the kids didn’t pour themselves more and instead asked if they could move on to the whisky. The half full bottle of wine remained sitting on the table, ignored. Hmmm?

There is nothing unpleasant about this Chardonnay at all and as a table wine it fits the bill and worth the money. It’ just lacking in character. As far as Chardonnay characteristics are concerned, it ticks all the boxes but nevertheless fails to excite. I can’t really explain it any other way than this. It’s as if the soul of the wine is missing.


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