Saturday, September 19, 2020

La Forêt Blanche Winery in the Judean Foothills

The Judean Foothills is the largest of Israel's six major wine regions - part of the ancient Kingdom of Judah and lying between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  At the Tel Hebron archaeological dig, pottery shards from wine amphorae have been unearthed stamped with the royal seal of the Kingdom of Judah (700 BCE) stating “For the King of Hebron”.  For thousands of years, winemakers have taken advantage of this Mediterranean climate with abundant sunshine, chalky and clay loams, and a diurnal swing of 20°C.  Modern winemaking resurfaced in the 1950s and 1960s with the Livni family joining in 2003 by producing wine from the single varietal vineyard at Sde Kalev at La Forêt Blanche Winery. Ten years earlier Menachem Livni pioneered the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the Hebron Hill area and established this vineyard.

Several La Forêt Blanche wines were included in the summer Hopwine kit. The red wines were sourced from their Judean Hills vineyard whereas the white wine from the cooler and more mountainous Negev Highlands to the south. The Dvir Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot 2017 is excellent - a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Shiraz from the Sde Kalev vineyard, rounded off with 22% Merlot. The wine was aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels and bottled without filtration. Expect velvety cherries, mint, and earth.  The Dvir Pinot Noir 2017 is also derived from the Sde Kalev vineyard and is very juicy with black pepper sprinkled within the black cherry profile. The Dvir Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 was aged for 18 months in French and American oak barrels, then bottled without filtration. This is a rich creamy wine, blackberries, and some cocoa and mint.  The Talpiot Red Judean Hills 2017 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), Petit Verdot (7%), Shiraz (7%), and Merlot (6%) that was aged for 6 months in French and American oak barrels and bottled without filtration.  Red raspberries and considerable acidity are reflected in this wine. Finally, the Talpiot White 2018 (Viognier grapes (80%) and Chenin Blanc (20%) showcases the Negev Highlands and impresses with its peach pit character and refreshing acidity. 

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