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Pomegranate Port

Posted: 18:08 Sun 27 Dec 2020
by JacobH
I am not usually a fan of fruit wines, but I have been intrigued over the years by some of the Israeli wines (including fortified wines) made from pomegranates. The reason for this is that a pomegranate strikes me as being quite similar to a grape in containing a decent quantity of juice, sugar, tannin and red colourant. More so than, say the greengages used by the English fruit wine makers!

I’m not sure if one can describe it as an industry but there seem to be a couple of Israeli companies now specialising in making it. The fruit seems to be grown in the Galilee (which is, of course, where the best Israeli wines come from) with certain varieties being preferred mostly because they have a very high sugar content. I guess the common eating pomegranate might not have quite enough sugar to ferment to wine ABVs without the assistance of some sugar.

I tried a Pomegranate Wine 613 “Port” wine a few years ago and remember it being very deeply coloured and rounded. I’m not sure I would have guessed it as a wine made from a grape but it came across as quite an interesting alternative.

More recently, I’ve tried a couple of “Ports” from Rimon who are, I think, the main producer in the country. “Rimon” is Hebrew for “pomegranate”. Their more premium products seem to receive a long aging in small wooden barrels in the heat, I suppose a bit like a sherry or madeira. The top wine seems to be an “Independence 70” which is 18.5% ABV and is aged for 10 years (giving a 60% reduction in volume, apparently). I don’t think I would have guessed that this one is not a conventional wine: it reminded me a lot of some of those aged Maurys: deep purple in the middle, fading towards a rusty red / orange with a strong sensation of stewed fruit belying its age and maturation process. I’ve also tried their standard “Premium Port” which is aged for about 4 years: much deeper coloured with fewer stewed fruits, I think this might be the better drink.

Both of the producers I’ve listed above seem to be tapping the tourist / novelty industry quite heavily (unsurprisingly, I guess) and their prices are a bit aggressive. The “Independence 70” is nearly £100 whilst the “Premium Port” is about £55.

Looking around it seems a chap tried to set up a version using Armenian pomegranates a decade ago but I can’t find much about that so I guess it didn’t work. There are a few other companies doing it in India, Greece and Georgia but these all seem to be part of fruit wine operations rather than someone trying to make a go of Pomegranates alone.

Has anyone else tried any or seen them for sale?

Re: Pomegranate Port

Posted: 20:35 Sun 27 Dec 2020
by akzy
I went to Israel last year and tried two different versions of it.
It was horrendous.
Curiously, Israel also make a fortified "port" wine (Touriga Nacional based) . I've been saving this for our next meet up.

Re: Pomegranate Port

Posted: 21:14 Sun 27 Dec 2020
by JacobH
I guess they have the heat and probably some schist soil, too...But it would take a lot to get me over the flashbacks to Palwin № 10 and other Israeli sweet red wines...

Re: Pomegranate Port

Posted: 21:16 Sun 27 Dec 2020
by JacobH
PS. I hope they are fleshing it out with some Touriga Francesa otherwise I imagine it will not be very drinkable at all! From my memory of trying single-varietal Ports, only Tinta Roriz (i.e. Tempranillo) works on its own.

Re: Pomegranate Port

Posted: 21:35 Sun 27 Dec 2020
by akzy
JacobH wrote:
21:16 Sun 27 Dec 2020
PS. I hope they are fleshing it out with some Touriga Francesa otherwise I imagine it will not be very drinkable at all! From my memory of trying single-varietal Ports, only Tinta Roriz (i.e. Tempranillo) works on its own.
Just checking my stocks it appears that the Touriga Nacional (with Tinta Cao) Israeli fortified is "missing". I do have one which is merlot based however.

Re: Pomegranate Port

Posted: 23:10 Sun 27 Dec 2020
by winesecretary
Back in, I think, 2010 I had a fortified Israeli pomegranate wine which was the single nastiest alcoholic liquid ever to pass my lips. I would rather re-taste Malibu, Midori, MD20/20, or WKD Blue*. It is a shame as with the right grapes and with the right sites there can be admirable wine made in Israel- I have had Syrah from the Golan Heights that was genuinely good.

[*Side note: how do I know? I once attended a blind alco-pops tasting. Two Dogs Lemonade won. The tasting note on one of the substances tested, I won't reveal which, read 'Looks like drain cleaner. Smells like drain cleaner. Tastes like drain cleaner.' We then put it down the lavatory. Terrifyingly, it transpired it was also effective as a drain cleaner...]

Re: Pomegranate Port

Posted: 23:29 Sun 27 Dec 2020
by JacobH
winesecretary wrote:
23:10 Sun 27 Dec 2020
[*Side note: how do I know? I once attended a blind alco-pops tasting. Two Dogs Lemonade won. The tasting note on one of the substances tested, I won't reveal which, read 'Looks like drain cleaner. Smells like drain cleaner. Tastes like drain cleaner.' We then put it down the lavatory. Terrifyingly, it transpired it was also effective as a drain cleaner...]
I don’t think I’ve ever see an explanation which has raised such an exponentially large number of questions compared to the number which it has answered! Was this for a sequel to Bum Wine?