When I first opened this wine I was a little baffled, as it was nothing like any Pinot Noir I have ever tasted. Unlike most California or Burgundy Pinot Noirs, which tend to be lighter in body and more complex in flavor, this Pinot Noir from the Southern Judean Mountains offers depth and body reminiscent of a Syrah or Granache. I can only attribute this to the amazing terrior of the Calev vineyard, and deep limestone valleys covered with terra rossa soil.
At first, this wine showed notes of dark berries, espresso, and dried cherries. After a light decanting I was pleasantly surprised as the wine developed hints of nutmeg, raw almond, and fresh cocoa. Aged 12 months in French and American oak barrels, this wine offers fine tannins and a smooth finish.
Not your typical light bodied Israeli pinot noir, this is a pinot noir for someone who likes a powerful wine. Concentrated, hearty, and “Old World”.
By David Benisrael
About Livni Winery
With vineyards a stone throw from the ancient city of Hevron, Livni Winery provides “Old World” style wines from their vineyards in arguably the best terroir in Israel.
Grown in a valley where the Southern Judean Mountians meet into the Judean Desert, Menachem Livni has been growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah grapes since 1994. In 2003 he opened his own winery and released his first vintage of 3,000 bottles. Currently, the winery is located on Moshav Carmel, in the Hebron Hills and his wines are made by French born winemaker Bruno Darmon. Bruno has experience working at wineries in France and Israel, which included a 7 year stint at Yatir Winery. In the last couple of years Livni Winery has been growing at a steady rate and is producing around 10,000 bottles annually.
The wines are grown in Calev’s Field, which is one of the first farms in Judea. It is located east of Hebron on land purchased by Jews in 1936. At Calev’s Field, the Livni family grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pinot Noir, in their estate vineyard surrounded by an orchid of cherry trees.
Planted in terra rossa and limstone valley soil, at 875m above sea level, the terroir is reminiscent of the Southern Rhone Valley in France. With dry arid days, and cool windy nights, the valley offers an ideal environment for “old world” style wines that are meant for a Mediterranean cuisine.
Even though Livni Winery is still young, their current vintages have shown unique and desirable qualities that any wine connoisseur would appreciate.