Karmei Yosef (Bravdo)-My Annual Visit With Tasting Notes (K
By: Daniel Rogov
Continuing on my travels, albeit without Charlie, this late morning (Tuesday, 23 Feb 2010) found me at the Karmei Yosef winery. Call the winery by its formal name "Karmei Yosef" or call it by the name by which it is most commonly known, as "Bravdo", but a rose by another other name…..
Founded in 2001 by Ben-Ami Bravdo and Oded Shosheyov, both professors of oenology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the winery sits in the heart of the vineyards at Karmei Yosef on the western slopes of the Judean Mountains. The winery released 2,800 bottles of its first wine in 2001. Production for 2008 was 40,000 bottles and for 2009 about 45,000bottles annually The winery relies largely on grapes grown in their own vineyards, among those Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and Chardonnay. The wines have been kosher since the 2007 vintage.
Today's tasting started off with barrel tastings of the 2009 wines and advance tastings of the 2008 wines and then went on to a mini-vertical of the winery's Cabernet Sauvignon. In that mini-vertical we tasted the wines of 2005, 2003, 2002 and 2001. On return I filled in the gaps by continuing from my own cellar with the wines of 2007, 2006, and 2004.
Two comment before my tasting notes. First, as often I have said, the major reason for buying the wines of boutique wineries is that they should reflect both the philosophy and signature of the winery. The Bravdo wines most certainly do that! Second that as much as these wines have pleased me in the past, the 2008 and 2009 wines are the best and most true to the varieties they have done to date.
A good tasting in good company and I thank Professors Bravdo and Shosheyov as well as Zory Arkin and Hadar Elroy of the winery for their courtesies during my visit.
The 2009 Wines
Karmei Yosef, Chardonnay, Bravdo, 2009: Oak aged in new French barriques for just three months, that passing on appealing hints of spicy wood to complement generous citrus, green apple, melon and tangerine fruits. A lively yet complex wine, well balanced by acidity and, on the long finish an appealing note of crème fraiche. Drink now-2012. Score 91. K (Tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Shiraz, Bravdo, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Full-bodied, with spicy cedar wood on the nose and opening with gripping tannins that settle nicely in the glass. Not as concentrated as the 2008 release but like that wine showing ripe red plum, wild berry and blueberry fruits, those supported comfortably by notes of red licorice. Long, round and mouth-filling. Best starting in 2012. Tentative Score 89-91. K (Tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Merlot, Bravdo, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Deep garnet towards royal purple medium- to full-bodied (leaning to the full) with gently caressing tannins and not-at-all exaggerated notes of spicy wood, those complementing a generous array of blackcurrant, wild berry and raspberry fruits. Deep and round, with notes of cigar tobacco and a tantalizing hint of sweetness on the long finish. Finely tuned balance and structure bode well for an elegant wine as this one continues to develop. Best from 2012. Tentative Score 91-93. K (Tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): A true Cabernet nose of black fruits and cigar box aromas, those parting to reveal a rich, full-bodied and gently tannic wine with currant, blackberry and blueberry fruits on a background of Oriental spices. Tannins and fruits rise together on the long finish. Best from 2013. Tentative Score 90-91. K (Tasted 23 Feb 2010)
The 2008 Wines
Karmei Yosef, Shiraz, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Living nicely up to its barrel-tasting promise. Deep royal purple in color, a rich and aromatic wine made intentionally late-harvested grapes. On the nose and palate ripe red berries, plums and blueberries, those supported comfortably by notes of cedar sawdust, spicy oak and an appealing overlay of white pepper and, on the long finish, an appealing note of saddle leather. Best 2012-2016, perhaps longer. Score 92. K (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Merlot, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Dark garnet, with green and orange reflections, showing more full-bodied than at barrel tastings. Soft tannins and gentle wood influences give the wine round, well-balanced notes, those coming together nicely on first attack with cherries and red currants, in turn yielding to black fruits, exotic spices and a note of minted chocolate. A hedonistic wine, rich and opulent, finishing long and with fruits rising nicely. Best 2011-2016. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Full bodied, with once super-firm tannins and generous spicy oak now settling in nicely. Dark garnet, with tannins that grip nicely and part to reveal traditional blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, those on a background of bay leaves and dark chocolate. On the log finish an appealing note of roasted herbs. Deep, long and complex. Best 2011-2016, perhaps longer. Score 92. K (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
The Vertical Tasting – Cabernet Sauvignon: 2001-2007
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bravdo, 2007: My most recent tasting note holds firmly. Deep garnet in color, full-bodied, with deep tannins and spicy wood, those opening to reveal a rich core of currant, wild berry, toasty oak and minted chocolate, all lingering nicely. Drink now-2012. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bravdo, 2006: Dark garnet towards royal-purple in color, showing more full-bodied than in the past and maintaining fine balance between once-firm tannins and spicy wood that are integrating nicely to allows the fruits to show nicely. On the nose and palate currants, wild berries and mint notes, those lingering nicely. Drink now–2013. Score 90. (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bravdo, 2005: At is peak now, deep garnet in color, medium- to fuill-bodied with tannins and wood recedig nicely. On the nose gentle notes of cedar sawdust and black fruits, those parting to reveal aromas and flavors of blackberries, currants and raspberries, those complemented by notes of lead pencil and roasted herbs. As intense now as it was during its youth and showing the potential for further cellaring. Drink now-2012. Score 90. (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon Bravdo, 2004: Holding its own very nicely, thank you. Medium to full-bodied with soft, near-sweet tannins and spicy wood well balanced by black currant, wild berry and black cherry fruits. Round, generous and long. Drink now–2012. Score 91. Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bravdo, 2003: Dark garnet with a bit of clearing at the rim, continuing to show its inherently fine balance and structure. A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, with generous aromas and flavors of blackcurrants, purple plums, black cherries and minted chocolate. Medium- to full-bodied, showing somewhat lighter than in the past. Still drinking elegantly. Not for much further cellaring. Drink now. Score 90. (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bravdo, 2002: A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, continuing to show full-bodied, its once gentle leathery base no rising as is a first hint of oxidation. Still drinking well and showing aromas and flavors of ripe blackberries, currants and black cherries, those on a background of Oriental spices. Leathery and earthy notes rising. Drink now. Score 90. (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)
Karmei Yosef, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bravdo, 2001: Still deep garnet but with a distinct note of clearing at the rim and showing a hint of adobe brick, a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. Still drinking well and showing good black and red fruits, those on a background of roasted Brazil nuts, licorice and roasted herbs but clearly a bit past its peak. Drink up. Score 89. (Re-tasted 23 Feb 2010)