Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sphera and Tzora Launches

Winemakers, colleagues, friends
Sphera and Tzora have recently launched their latest wines. I attended both launches, and, while I didn't take detailed notes, I'd like to talk about general impressions. Because both wineries are playing at all star level.

Sphera is a boutique owned and run by Sima and Doron Rav Hon. And what you get when you see the clean, minimalistic labels and when you look at Doron - lean, white haired, usually dressed in white - is what you get in his all-white lineup: nuanced, 'quiet' wines, the equivalent of a Japanese rock garden. Drinking them is almost like drinking cold spring water - they're that invigorating - and there's always a distinct and distinctive structure that hovers between limpid and nervy. Tasting the wines in the context of a launch gala doesn't do them justice - they require meditative attention -  hence the lack of notes, but I'll re-visit. I will say this: the style and quality is consistent across the lineup and the Chardonnay gets my vote for the best in the country.

Eran Pick has been the winemaker at Tzora for a decade (he's been recently promoted to CEO as well) and his work has been improving by small increments each year; I wouldn't expect major jumps, given the already high quality of the previous three or four vintages. The Shoresh Blanc is, as always, a major contender for the country's best Sauvignon Blanc (which I think is the country's best white grape). We opened it later at home and it's explosively expressive and balances tropical fruit with minerals, which is its signature really - the way the minerals shift between foreground and background. You know what? Who cares which Sauvignon is the country's best - the Shoresh's big achievement is how consistent its character is, year after year. Not just the quality, but the character. Which is what terroir is all about, really.

The 2014 red Shoresh might be the best so far, the structure tannic, yet friendly at the same time. The iconic Misty Hills is excellent as always, but I'll defer comparisons to previous vintages until I attend a vertical tasting.

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