Gvaot Petit Verdot 2013

Gvaot Petit Verdot 2013. NIS 150 to NIS 180 (and going up in price every week until it inevitably disappears from the shops).

The "Gefen" wine store used to have a huge shop in Givat Shaul once upon a time, now sadly closed. They have moved to much smaller premises around the corner on Kanfei  Nesharim with nowhere near the stock they used to have, but they still sell those delicious Golan Heights Argentinian ”De Karina” chocolates and chocolate liquors which my dear wife loves so much.

Prices in Gefen are about average for Yerushalayim but you can get a bargain there sometimes and they have regular mivtzaim (special offers) so it’s always worth popping in just to see what’s new. (There is actually another wine shop in Kanfei Nesharim, Givat Shaul, very prominently situated but I have never mentioned it as their prices are ludicrously high). Gefen have also just opened a small store in the heart of the open section of Machane Yehuda market.

*** UPDATE *** I have just been informed that the two Gefen stores have split up and the shop in Machane Yehuda is now called "David Chaim".
As I was making my way through the hustle and bustle of Machane Yehuda shuk (market), on my way to buy some pickled herring which I use to make English Style Chopped Herring, I decided to pop into HaGefen to see what was new. They have a very small selection of Single Malt Whiskies but prices are not bad. The Talisker 10 for instance was only NIS 260. Browsing through the Gvaot shelf I spied upon a wine I had never seen before and picked up a bottle to examine the label.  “Gvaot Petit Verdot 2013”. The shop assistant instantly approached me and proudly announced with a big grin on his face, that as far as he understood, his was the only store in Yerushalayim which had these bottles in and he only had six of them! They were going for NIS 160 a bottle.

Apparently he had managed to obtain them through a friend at the winery. He confirmed that yes, this is the very first time that the Gvaot winery had ever attempted to make wine from these very difficult grapes, usually only used to add body to blends and rarely used (at least in Israel) to make single grape wine from them. He informed me that this was a very limited edition of a few hundred bottles and that I should buy some quick before they disappeared altogether. He told me that he had tasted it and they were amazing. He actually preferred it to the Gvaot Pinot Noir 2013.

*** UPDATE *** You can now get this wine in "HaMeSameiyach" down Aggrippas street for NIS 149

Some details about Petit Verdot.
According to the Academic Wino site,
"There are several complications with growing Petit Verdot grapes....if conditions are unfavorable, the Petit Verdot berries will be green and seedless, which will give more green and unripe character in a finished wine.  Petit Verdot is also a very late-ripening grape, which often exposes it to increased frost risk and complete loss of the crop. As a result of these difficulties, Petit Verdot is not planted in great quantity in Bordeaux [due to the high risk of failure].  When it does grow to full ripeness, it has big tannins (due to very thick skin) and relatively high acidity.  It is used as a blending grape (usually in 5% or less quantities), to add dark color, structure, and big pepper/spice flavor to Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style blends."

You need to get the weather just right and at the right time and know exactly when to pick them. In other words you have to have a lot of skill, a lot of chutzpa to even attempt to grow them and even more to decide to bottle it as a single grape wine (and not just play it safe and use it to add body and tannins in your blends), and most important of all, Emuna in Hashem. I can assure you that Gvaot winery have all of these things in abundance! (Just to be 100% honest here, the label does state 84% Petit Verdot, 14% Merlot but it is still considered a single grape expression).
Typical characteristics of this grape are really rough, hard, dry and flinty tannins (described by many as pencil shavings) when young. It is not a wine for the beginner and many advise only to drink it with some heavy meat meal. If your luck holds out and the grapes ripen, you might be rewarded with thick creamy fruits, typically I have read, like banana and custard, that is, after a year or so of barrel maturation and then of course further aging in the bottle.

I must state now that I rarely buy such expensive wine. My price limit is almost always NIS 120 tops, and would only consider breaking that limit for a trully exceptable wine. Bearing this in mind, I was going to do some checking before parting with my cash so thanked the salesman very much and said I’d think about it. I immediately shot off a WhatsApp message to Eliav, the Gvaot salesman asking him to give me some information about this wine.

Within a few minutes I had my answer. Eliav wrote that indeed, it was the first time they had ever attempted to produce wine from this grape and that there were only 900 bottles, all individually numbered at the bottom of the front label. (Actually I can tell you that some of the numbers did not come out as I've seen some exmples in the shops saying "Bottle No.  [blank] out of 900"). The text further informed me that about 400 had been exported abroad leaving just a few hundred to distribute here in Israel. He had limited them to six bottles per store. I thanked him very much for his quick reply.

Example of missing Bottle Number

I went to check in a couple of the larger wine stores to see if they had them in and if they were any cheaper but the answer I received was that they had heard great things about this wine and were trying desperately to get it in but so far have failed. I phoned up my friend at “Aleph Aleph Piup” store in Ramat Eshkol and he told me that they had been promised a single box but it had not as yet arrived and that their price would be NIS 180! So off I went, back to HaGefen and purchased two bottles, numbers 897 and 893. As you have probably realised by the numbers, they are almost the very last bottles in the series.

The New Gvaot Label

I wrote a few years ago on this blog that I found the Gvaot label artwork a bit over the top. Too “busy” as my Mum would say. The over use of gold leaves and frames full of fancy French style writing on thick black reminded me back then of a cheap Simcha hall with gold hanging ornaments and plastic green plants everywhere. However, over the years I’ve kind of got used to it and actually grown to like it.
Gvaot Old style label

Now, from 2013, they have completely revamped the artwork. I could only describe it as minimalistic in the extreme. Have they gone too far the other way? I’m not sure. Only time will tell.

What are those dots (or bumps) around the "10 Shekel Coin" style picture of a cup, positioned at the top of the label like a royal crest? They look like some kind of paper punch tape code made into a circle. (Can anyone decode it?)

I was also informed that they have decided to rename their ranges. The Herodian name which they have been giving to their so called "budget" range has been retired, due I heard to another winery bringing out a brand by the same name. Their highest range "Gofna" has not disappeared from the label but they have added the designation "Reserve" which is consistant with other wineries, in order to signify that this is their premium range.

So, tachles, how does this taste?
Friday afternoon I opened the wine and noted a lovely fruity berry aroma with a a slightly unpleasant kettle stone smell and little alcohol pinch on the nose. I placed the bottle in my glass doored cabinet to keep it safe until Kiddush.

We returned back from shul some two hours later and after waiting for our guests, Shalom Aleichem, Eishes Chayil and brachos for the kids and the final touches to the meal like adding dressing to the salad and cutting up the pickled cucumbers, we were finally ready to say Kiddush.

I poured the wine and noted a lovely dark royal scarlet to ruby red colour. Swirling my wife's glass around a few times, I brought it too my nose. First impressions were some kind of sweet red berry, ripe figs and spices, herbal redcurrent fruit tea with a lovely floral rose garden tailend.

Now, with everyone finally around the table, my dear wife beautifully dressed (with a new perfectly matching Kisui Rosh as well, which I complimented her on), I began...יום הששי

Kiddush said and everyone seated, all that remained to complete the mitzva of Kiddush was to drink the wine and enjoy our first taste of Oneg Shabbos and what an Oneg (enjoyment) it turned out to be!

It worked out that we ended up drinking this Petit Verdot around two and a half hours after opening. I was anticipating with some trepidation (and had actually been warned by the saleswoman in Aleph Aleph Piup) that there was a high risk that we would experience rough dry tannins and a bitter wood like dry taste as this is still quite a young wine, but to our relief and happiness, we were welcomed by a soft and luscious mouthful of velvety fruit and silky smooth tannins with floral notes of red roses and a touch of minerality at the finish.

This Gvaot is unlike any red wine, even of this price range, that I have ever tasted. So different from the Cabernet Sauvignons, The Merlots, Shiras and Pinot Noirs.

Usually I find myself describing any red wine in terms of some kind of black berry. Occasionally, with the Pinot Noir grape you get red cherries (as in the case of the Livni winery) and strawberries (the signature aroma of Gvaot Pinot Noirs). Never have I tasted such rich bright red berries before in a wine. After some discussion around the Shabbos table we nailed it down to a speciifc fruit, that of fresh ripe velvety Raspberries, with the texture and mouth feel of red rose petals.  A taste level below that reminded me of English Cox’s or Braeburn red apples (even though they are white inside) from my childhood growing up in England. We also noted some honey syrup. Not bees honey but fig honey or is that called Fig jam?

Tasting Notes

Swirling the wine around in my mouth my tasting notes became slightly more exotic when I described what I was tasting as red Hibiscus jam made from rosella-fruit (although the truth is that I've never actually tasted this but can kind of imagine that it would taste like that). It’s getting slightly weird now but I got the juice from grilled beef steak on my teeth, red and juicy open fire grilled meat on a plate of freshly polished granite stone.  A touch of very mild black sweet pepper, mineral like pebbles taken from a fresh water mountain stream. Mild spice and a mouthful of fresh red berries and some sweet cigar leaves to finish.

The wine somehow managed to maintain a very firm and confident body yet remained elegant and delicate and perfectly balanced throughout. How is that possible? Does what I've described make any sense to you?

Bottom Line:

Pkitzu, (Hebrew for "to cut a very long story short"), this wine is worth every shekel. Use what ever kind of superbly you prefer, that's appropriate. The best however was yet to come. When we drank it again after HaMotzei with some chopped Liver......well...(I'm going into song, I can't help it)..."MeiEin Olam Haba, MeiEin Olam Haba, MeiEin Olam Haba...Shabbos Menucha..".

If you are lucky enough to find a bottle and are willing to pay what even I have to admit is a very steep price then go for it. Having said that, it is true that you can buy a bottle of excellent Tomintoul 10 Year Old for the same kind of money and it will last quite a lot longer than a wine. The Gvaot bottle was bereft of any liquid long before the first Shabbos Zemira...Still, it left a wonderful warm memory and its sweet red velvet experience which gave all of us such simchas Shabbos on Friday night might just be equivalent to a Zemira anyway!?

Do I recommend it? You betcha! Just make sure you open the bottle well in advance of drinking and you are in for quite an experience. Le Chaim!


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