Home > Israel > Domaine Netofa, Galil, 2008

Domaine Netofa, Galil, 2008

Domaine Netofa is a smaller production winery (compared to such behemoths as Carmel, Golan Heights Winery, etc.), but size matters not. The difference is in your bottle. The wine we are reviewing today is a lighter-bodied red that is made in the style of Cotes du Rhone of France. Now, before we get into the wine itself, it is very important to understand the Rhone style of winemaking.

The Rhone Valley is in southern France, which explains why the grapes used to make its wines are generally suited to warmer climates: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussane, and 7 other grapes are allowed to be used throughout the region. However, the predominant red grapes (and, incidentally, the grapes used to make the Netofa wine, which is our subject today). Syrah is known to be a medium-to-full bodied grape with characteristic spicy and/or herbaceous notes; yes, that means that a Syrah (or Shiraz, as it’s known in Australia) will have some flavors remniscient of pepper and other herbs and spices that give it a little zip. Grenache can sometimes have a spicy component, too, but not nearly as much as Syrah. Grenache is going to have a very bright juiciness about it as well as some jammy qualities. Mourvedre is the least-used grape in our trio today and is used primarily for its color and to add body to the wine.

 Now, on to the main event! I tasted this bottle several times over the course of a Shabbos not too long ago. On first evaluation I was not able to get a lot out of the wine either on the nose or upon tasting; granted, I popped the cork and poured almost immediately for Kiddush. This tells me that this is a wine that would benefit from some breathing time. What this means is that you open the bottle and leave it exposed to the air for a while, say an hour or so. (Next time I have this wine, I’ll open it before going to shul and then pour for Kiddush!)

The next morning I tasted the wine again and found its fruity and floral qualities apparent on the nose.  There was some blackberry present but it wasn’t either jammy (which would suggest long growing on the vine) or underripe (which would suggest a cooler climate vineyard). Instead, it was perfectly ripe and juicy and partnered with some earthy, mushroomy qualities which were quite delighful. I caught a hint of the peppery spice that is Syrah’s trademark. Upon my second tasting of the wine, it was clearly a lighter-bodied wine and I tasted some plum for the fruit. Instead of the pepper I caught on the nose, I found more cinnamon or cloves. It was a relatively simple wine but had a long and pleasant finish.

Because it was a lighter-bodied wine, I wouldn’t really pair it with roasts and other rich meaty fare. Instead, look to lighter meats, such as chicken, or as a companion to stew or even Indian cuisine. I’ve had a few curries that I think would pair well with this wine.

This wine will retail for around $30 in your local shop and is well worth the time and money to experience. However, be forewarned. If you’re used to the super fruity wines, such as those from Australia (see my next post!) that don’t have so much structure, then this is a significant change. The Domaine Netofa really goes after its Rhone roots by going for a more austere style. To make a more base analogy, where many Australian wines are very much a “what you see is what you get” kind of product, the Netofa (and its Rhone counterparts) are much more shy and, like onions and ogres, have layers.

This is definitely a wine to have again and I would be intrigued as to how the wine would stand up to some aging. Grab yourself a bottle and let me know what you think.


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