2011 Stern Winery: Very Positive Reviews
Published: 04.15.11 | Source: Rogov's Place | by: Daniel Rogov
From the point of view of the critic, one of the advantages of small wineries is that it is not difficult to taste and follow their wines from the moment they first make their way to market. To add to that, one of the great pleasures of the critic is finding those wineries whose wines improve in both quality and interest levels on an annual basis.
So it has been with the Stern winery and Monday, 11 April I met with Johnny Stern at my office away from the office (Arcaffe on Basel Street in Tel Aviv), there to share several double espresso coffees each, a package of salty snack pastries and a good deal of conversation.
Founded by on Kibbutz Gadot in the Upper Galilee, first production from the 2004 harvest was of 1,100 bottles. In 2008 the winery released 7,000 bottles and current production is estimated at about 10,000 bottles annually. The winery, recently relocated on Kibbutz Toval, currently relies on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Petit Verdot grapes, those from the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Karmei Yosef. Plans are to grow to annual production of about 20,000 bottles.
Part of my morning tastings today were of the six Stern wines from the 2009 vintage, those most assuredly the best releases of the winery to date. My thanks to Johnny Stern for coming to Tel Aviv to meet with me and for his good company.
Best way to purchase directly from the winery or to find the store nearest you will be to contact Johnny Stern at
Stern, Rotem, 2009: Developed in French and American oak 13 months, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (64%, 21%, 11% and 4% respectively). Medium-dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied with gently gripping tannins, opens with a red fruit nose, goes on to show blackcurrants and purple plums on a lightly spicy background, fruits and tannins rising on the medium-long finish. Approachable now but best from 2012-2015. Score 88. (Tasted 15 Apr 2011).
Stern, Yonathan, 2009: A medium- to full bodied oak-aged blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot with a spicy red fruit nose. Garnet towards royal purple, with soft tannins, opens with a wild berry nose, goes on in the glass to reveal red and black berries, currants and spices, all on a background that hints of cigar tobacco and, on the generous finish a hint of eucalyptus. Give this one the time it needs for its elements to come completely together. Best 2012-2016, perhaps longer. Score 89. (Tasted 15 Apr 2011).
Stern, Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz-Merlot, 2009: Made from grapes harvested on the Golan Heights and Karmei Yosef (on the western slopes of the Judean Hills) a medium- to full-bodied blend of 40% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz and 20% Merlot. Reflecting its oak aging for 13 months in French and American oak with tannins that open firmly but meld comfortably in the glass and hints of vanilla. On the nose and palate red and black berries, cassis and notes of citrus peel, those on a background that hints at one moment of sweet cedar wood and at another of mahogany. Long and generous. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from mid-2012-2016. Score 89. (Tasted 15 Apr 2011).
Stern, Cabernet Franc, 2009: Full-bodied, reflecting its aging in French and American oak with comfortably subdued notes of spicy cedar wood and spices. Deeply tannic and somewhat closed at this tasting but showing the kind of balance and structure that bode well for the future. Opens slowly (after a first tasting I triple decanted this one to let it blossom) to reveal a lithe and polished wine, with raspberry and cherry fruits on a background of tobacco and licorice notes. Destined to be a "tight" but long and well focused wine. Best from mid-2012-2016, perhaps longer. Score 90. (Tasted 15 Apr 2010).
Stern, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009: A blend of grapes from the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee, oak aged for 13 months, showing garnet towards royal purple. Medium- to full-bodied, leaning to the full, revealing soft, near-sweet tannins and hints of sweet and spicy cedar, opens in the glass to show a somewhat rustic wine, with its blackcurrants and blackberries complemented nicely with notes of roasted chestnuts, espresso coffee and sage. On the long finish generous hints of tapenade and tar to grab our attention. Best from mid-2012-2017. Score 90. (Tasted 15 Apr 2010).
Stern, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2009: Made from grapes from the Ramot Naftali in the Upper Galilee and reflecting its aging in French oak for 15 months with caressing tannins and notes of spicy oak. Full-bodied and supple, with currant and purple plum fruits on a background of earthy minerals and Mediterranean herbs. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from mid-2012-2017. Score 91. (Tasted 15 Apr 2010).
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