The Super-Premium Cabernet Sauvignon from Psagot Winery
Psagot Winery, the largest and most commercial winery in Judea and Samaria, is just five minutes away from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev and enjoys a spectacular view over the mountains to Wadi Kelt and Edom. The winery is owned and run by Jacob Berg, who immigrated to Israel in 1979 at the age of three.
A copy of a coin dating from the Great Revolt of 66 CE is affixed to the labels of the winery’s premium wines. The original coin was found in a cave under the Berg family home. Engraved on it is an amphora and an inscription indicating the second year of the uprising.
In June 2014 Jacob Oryah became Psagot Winery's winemaker, and he immediately introduced a line of white wines, suitable to the prevailing climate. The wines produced were Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé that was made from grapes pressed to produce rosé and not merely a red-wine production by-product. In addition, he began producing sparkling wine, Blanc de Blanc, using the traditional method, and changed the blend of Edom to Merlot based. The fingerprint of this creative winemaker is now evident almost everywhere in the winery.
If Edom is the winery's flagship wine, then its super-premium offering, not as well-known to consumers, is the single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes from the vineyard can be found in some additional premium blends of Israeli wineries. Psagot’s vineyard is located in the Jerusalem Mountains at an altitude of 900 meters above sea level. To enable the roots to deepen on the hard limestone terraces, the vines were planted by drilling a hole in the ground for each plant. The desert that wafts dry air is about three kilometers away. The particularly strong radiation affects the intensity of the fruit in the wine. On the mountain there is a considerable temperature difference of up to 15 degrees Celsius (!) between day and night, and in the winter it snows. Thanks to the temperature differences the acidity in the grapes is maintained and the flavors develop slowly, which is a mark of quality. In addition, low yields of around 600 kg per quarter acre assist the high intensity of the fruit.
This is the background to the "secret" that I'm about to reveal here for the first time:
Psagot’s Single-Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the very best Cabernet Sauvignon wines produced in this country. It is a premium wine with no gimmicks.
Yael, my wife, and I went to the American-inspired Hudson steak house in Tel Aviv accompanied by two bottles of the wine, one from the 2013 vintage and the other harvested in 2014. The similarities became obvious right away: both were elegant wines, expressing the red-fruit spectrum of the fruit with a bit of coarse tannins.
2014 was more of a "crowd pleaser": approachable, with powerful aromas, inviting, complex (black and red fruit plus chocolate and all sorts other of good things) with a bit riper fruit (though still very fresh) and a fuller body than the 2013 offering. It is an excellent, well polished, hedonistic wine. Score: 93
2013 is an elegant wine that starts off timidly, revealing just red cherries and red and white flowers. After twenty minutes in the glass, currants, sour cherries and dark chocolate started popping out. It is a complex, concentrated, but elegant wine with acidity and tannins (a little coarse) exactly balancing the power of the fruit. The wine's body is between medium and full with very long flavours and refreshing lively acidity. Pure pleasure. Score: 94
At the beginning of the tasting, Yael announced the 2014 vintage as the winner by points, while later she noticed that "there's something more elegant in 2013 than in 2014."
Blessed is the person that these are her choices…