Seahorse Winery, Israel - James 2013, Romain 2013, Lennon 2013, Hemingway 2012
VinCE stands for wine and Central Europe, as far as I know. Well, I wasn't aware that Israel lies in Central Europe. However, I have no objection, given that I found the sortiment of Seahorse Winery truly appealing. I think I know the winemaker's secret - but I'll leave this till the end of the article.
They arrived with one white and three reds, and I tasted all four. The winery is situated in the Jerusalem mountains, between endless forests. This makes me a bit surprised of the name choice. Seahorse in the forest? Anyway - it's much more the wine, than the name, that is really interesting.
Having said all this - "borekh habo", Seahorse Winery!
First things first, I start with white - a Chenin Blanc. The winery is working with international varieties only which makes the sortiment quite unusual for us, Hungarians. We do not get a lot of these varieties in our country. James 2013 is a truly outstanding example of a well elaborated sur-lie technique wine. Pale gold. Almoast oaky on the nose with good intensity. Far from the "everyday" chenin blancs, this wine is medium plus bodied and exposes a perfect vanilla character on the palate, with satisfying length and juicy fruit: stone fruit and some hay. Easy to drink but has some depth, a great restaurant-wine.
Romain 2013 is my next choice. A classic blend in France's Côte du Rhône, this wine is made of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Cinsault and Counoise join the blend. Bright ruby colour with attractive cherry smell surrounded by lots of tasty spices. Fruity, but has some ripeness already. The palate is packed with cherries and spice again, enveloped in the very pleasant mouthfilling softness of the body. Tannins are not harsh at all, can give structure, but are ripe and well rounded off. This is a red wine for ladies, a really good choice for a summer evening. Noticeably the same style as was the James.
Next wine: Lennon 2013. Zinfandel, blended with Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. Bright ruby colour with slightly watery rim. Truly american in the nose, fantastic intensity of spiciness and a very clear expression of the Zinfandel characteristics. Quite high in tannins, and a bit drying, but the pushed flavours of cherries, red and black berries sweep the tannins aside. Playful and serious at the same time, I fully understand the name choice. Lennon's short 40 years in life, especially as a composer, were similar: lot of spice, vibrant, with fruity indulgence in the beginning counterpointed by an ascetic dry character (at least much drier than McCartney's), then slowing down to more serious thoughts, with a long finish. Always very independent, which this wine is, as well. Honestly, I never really appreciated Californian Zinfandels - yet I do appreciate this one.
Hemingway 2012. Deep ruby colour, blackish core. Abundant fruit, with firm tannins on the other hand, that give a hard backbone. Full of plums, black berry fruit - the latter come from cabernet sauvignon, certainly. This wine is composed of 66% Petite Sirah plus Cab Franc and Syrah to complete. Slight sweetness in the finish. I really like the way this winemaker makes tannins enjoyable. In this wine they are so small granulated, it is almost an artifact. A good aged character - only a touch of aging - joins to make flavours more complex and serious. This wine still has a long life in front of it.
I'm sure the winemaker loves women, all four wines are just to sophisticatedly chorded to be substantial but approachable. THAT is the secret, I assume. Note, that all three red wines are blends, and some of them are unusual blends. A lot of excitement comes from the careful selection of blending percentages. This is why all wines are so similar in style.
My best wishes for the future, however I heard that 2015 was not a great year in Israel. Still, I have no doubt Seahorse Winery will successfully overcome those difficulties to come out with wines of same quality as what I have just tasted.
Mazel tov! - if I may say.