Yatir Petit Verdot 2009, Psagot Rose 2014, Psagot Chardonnay 2011

Yatir Petit Verdot 2009

In Israel, the most popular grape by far used to make wine is of course the Cabernet Sauvignon. This is followed by Merlot and then Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Barbera. Israeli Petit Verdots are quite rare so it was with quite some surprise that I was offered two Petit Verdots to try in one week. Gvaot has just released a very limited edition of this grape with a 2013 vintage. In total they have bottled 900. 500 have been sold abroad and 400 distributed around Israel. I know that two major wine shops in Jerusalem have had this wine on order but so far it has not arrived. I however found it in "HaGefen" in Machaneh Yehudah. Each bottle is numbered and mine are 893 and 897. Mammash from the last few bottles! My friend and wine expert, Mattitiyahu, adviced me to wait another six months or so before opening this so look forward to a review of this wine some time in 2016, beli neder.
Gvaot Petit Verdot 2013
Typical characteristics of this grape are hard, dry and flinty tannins (described by many as pencil shavings)  when young and smooth, heavy creamy fruits like banana and custard when mature.
For some reason, the entire Yatir range is on special offer this month in a number of places around Jerusalem, selling for 2 bottles for NIS 200 to NIS 220. I was particularly interested in the Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 or 2010 and the Petit Verdot 2009. Two wine experts independently advised me to go for the Petit Verdot saying that it was excellent. Being now six years old in the bottle it was ready to drink now. OK. Sold.
Yatir Petit Verdot 2009 Tasting Notes
So Friday afternoon, after I had set up the Platter with chicken and potatoes (cooked in half a bottle of "Yisraeli" Zinfandel wine, onions, fresh garlic and rosemary), I opened the Yatir and left it to breath until returning from Shul some two and a half hours later.   
Shalom Aleichem, Eishes Chayil, brachos for the kids and some last second table setting, we stood around  our beautiful Shabbos table for Kiddush.
At this point I wish to pause and go completely off subject to talk about my new Challah cover which I have completely fallen in love with. Some might consider it "Touristy" and kitchy but for me it is beautiful as well as immensely practical.
Challa Cover with Kiddush Text
I always insist on reading/singing Kiddush from a text and not to try and recite it from memory. Like all tephilos and brachos, you get so used to them, you start to mispronounce words and begin to lack kavanah (intention to perform the mitzvah).  Having the text in front of you helps to stop this, nevertheless, squeezing a Siddur between you and the wine glasses only adds another item to our already over crowded Shabbos table.  Having the Kiddush text printed on the Challa cover is for me, the perfect solution. They cost around NIS 50 down Geula, Me'eh Shaarim and come either with nekudos or without. (I prefer with). Where as others see this and turn their noses up at it, I love using it and am not embarrassed to say so.
Before Kiddush I poured a small amount into my wife's glass and gave it a swirl before putting it to my nose. Some unspecified dark berries and dusty rain water. Not much else. Not unpleasent but not wow wow. Kiddush said, we drank and briefly discussed our views before getting up to wash for Lechem Mishneh. (The second or should I say, the first use for the Challah Cover?). Initial reactions were rough, rough and really rough. It was like a wine which had just been opened. Yes, "closed" would best describe it. Hadn't all that breathing time opened it up enough? It seems not. Dry harsh dark fruits, thin and watery. Had I not known I would have said that this was a young wine, still no way fully matured and mellowed in the bottle yet I knew that this was six years old! Besides this, two wine experts had told me that this wine was great! What was I missing? I was glad that it wasn't just me though. Everyone agreed that it was rough and harsh. OK, we left it for another 30 minutes or so until we had began the hors d'oeuvres. I was serving chopped liver and onions so it would make the perfect companion for red wine. Unfortunetely the wine did not improve very much. Our guests actually left the wine and the rest of us finished it off and went onto the whisky.
Personally it left me very confused. When I spoke to Mattitiyahu he told me that his recommendation was based on tasting notes from a year ago. Perhaps, he suggested, it was now past it's prime? This leaves me even more confused because this wine was exhibiting all the characteristics of a young immature wine. However, maybe I was confusing the roughness of a young wine for it being stale? Too much oxidization either in the bottle over years or becsuse it has been opened for too long will show stale, watery, dry dusty fruit flavours. This sounds more like what we experienced. Hmm. Was it a bad bottle? Well I bought two so the next one I open, I'll try drinking let's say only an hour after opening. Let's see if it tastes any better? The other alternative is to return it to the shop and swap it for a Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon?
Psagot Chardonnay 2011
I have only ever tasted two Psagot reds and was not impressed by them. Psagot winery has an excellent visitor's centre and a great story behind them. I always used to say, It's just a shame about the wine! Well that was my experience until I tasted this Chardonnay. I saw a whole load of then sitting on a barrel in a store in Machaneh Yehuda on special offer, 2 for NIS 100. When picking one bottle up to examine it I was immediately pounced on by the salesman who assured me not to be put off by the bits floating around in the bottle. He explained that the wine was "lo mesunan" - unfiltered! I assured him that I was certainly not put off and in fact even more interested in it now that I knew. I was a bit disappointed that they do not mention this on the bottle. If they are going to take the trouble and, frankly, risk of not filtering the wine in order to preserve the maximum amount of flavour then the least they could do is inform us on the label don't you think? I find this rather  strange.
Tasting Notes
Anyway we opened both bottles on Shabbos morning straight out of the wine fridge which was reading 16 degrees Celsius on the display. As soon as  my daughter had opened them and brought them to the table I knew we were onto a winner. I could smell the exquisite aroma even from two meters away.
Pouring some into my wife's glass and swirling some of this liquid around I didn't have to bring it up to my nose to smell lush honeydew melon, yellow apples and vanilla oak. Actually it reminded me very much of the "The Glenlivet Nadurra". I wonder if Psagot matured this Chardonnay in American oak like the Nadurra? It would seem unlikely. As far as I know, all Israeli wineries use French oak but you never know. The similarity was indeed remarkable, When I mentioned "Nadurra", heads began to nod around the Shabbos table. I was not the only one!
No this is not the wine. It is is melon juice.
The next thing we noticed was the peculiar greeny yellow colour, indeed the whole look of the wine in the glass was unlike any wine I had ever seen. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it looked like cloudy honeydew melon juice with pith floating around inside. Without a doubt, this wine was absolutely unfiltered. To me it was a glorious site. To others at the table (my guests) they were really put off by it. You could see it in their faces. It didn't look very appealing to them at all and I believe that this biased their ultimate opinion of it as they left most of it. (My family on the other hand managed to empty both bottles, no problem! My kids were haggling over the last drops.)
Taste was very much the same as smelling. Rich thick, honeydew melon certainly, crisp custardy yellow apple juice as well, vanilla essence , spices and wood in a heavy liquid. Yum Yum!
No gueses for which whisky we poured out after this wine. Yes, it was Nadurra 16 all round. The perfect follow up to this wine.
Final Words
The greeny yellow look of this wine with bits floating about may well put off many but to us it only added to its charm. We loved it and I went out the next week and bought some more before the current special offer expired.
Psagot Rose 2014
Well, after the success of the Chardonnay, I was in the mood to try another Psagot and as my dear wife's favourite wine is Rose, I decided to purchase a couple of bottles of this for the following Shabbos lunch. This wine was not on special offer. I've seen the price of this Rose vary from NIS 65 to NIS 79.
OK, let me say from the start that last Shabbos was very hot and I decided to put both bottles in the fridge before we went to shul. Consequently, despite waiting around 10 minutes after opening them and before saying Kiddush, the wine was still too cold. When I poured the wine it looked slightly fizzy although showing a lovely glowing colour.
The smell was pleasant enough exhibiting rose garden floral notes but still closed due to its low temperature. Kiddush said, we drank the wine. It tasted slightly fizzy with a short fruity peach taste. We decided to leave it to warm up a bit so after washing and HaMotzi we retried the wine with our starters. The fizziness had almost gone but was replaced by a strange sweet and sour taste. Initially fruity sweet then turning fruity sour. It was drinkable but my wife who enjoys sweet wines was disappointed by that sour finish.'
Bottom Line
For the price, not recommended. There are cheap NIS 30 bottles of Rose on the market that are far more rewarding to those who enjoy this type of wine.


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