Not very long ago the Ella Valley Vineyards winery unveiled their new flagship wine "E." With that release the winery joins what many consumers are now calling "the hundred-dollar club," that is to say wineries that are introducing wines that sell for $100 or more on release.
Current members of the club include the wineries of Zauberman, Alexander and Dalton.
Honestly, there are a great many wines that are worth $100 or even more. When I think of spending that much for a bottle it invariably comes from Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley, Tuscany or Piedmont.
I do not usually associate that price tag with Israeli wines and one wonders whether an Israeli wine, no matter how good it may be, can justify that price.
Neither the Golan Heights Winery nor the Carmel Winery have moved into that price range. Of three superb wines recently released, the Golan Heights Winery's 2006 Rom, which earned 96 points, sells for NIS 340 and Carmel's recently released 2007 Limited Edition and the 2007 Yatir Forest, both of which earn 93 points, sell for NIS 250.
There is no question that the Dalton Matatia and the Ella Valley "E" are excellent wines. The question is who will pay those prices.
Ella Valley Vineyards, "E", 2006: A limited edition of 2,200 bottles, a full-bodied and generously tannic blend of 35 percent Syrah, 15 percent Cabernet Franc and the balance of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, each variety fermented separately and developed in primarily new French oak for 12 months before blending. After the blending, the wine was given an additional eight months in oak for its elements to marry comfortably. Firm, near-sweet tannins and notes of spicy wood come together on first attack with notes of cassis and licorice, those followed by notes of blackcurrants and tobacco, and on the super-long finish, notes of dried figs. A concentrated and intense wine that needs a bit more time in the bottle to show its elegance. Best from mid-2011-2017. NIS 380. Score 92. K
More affordable Ella
Ella Valley Vineyards, Chardonnay, 2008: Developed partly in new oak, partly in stainless steel, not so much lively as it is well focused and complex. On the nose and palate Green Gage plums, pears and citrus, all with creme vanilla and floral notes. Generous and mouth-filling with an elegant finish. Drink now-2014. NIS 89. Score 92. K
Ella Valley Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, 2007: Oak aged in French barriques for 16 months, Cabernet Franc blended with 5 percent each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Dark royal purple, medium to full-bodied with softly caressing tannins. Opens with a distinct veggie Cabernet Franc note, yielding comfortably to cherry, blackberry, licorice and citrus peel, and on the long and generous finish a clear hint of bittersweet chocolate. Drink now-2014. NIS 118. Score 90. K
Ella Valley Vineyards, Syrah, 2007: Oak-aged for 16 months in French barriques, made entirely from Syrah grapes, a super-dark wine with a lovely light bitter note that runs through. Full-bodied and spicy, with red and purple plums, crushed berries and notes of almonds, citrus peel and on the long finish, notes of violets and saddle leather. Best 2012-2016, perhaps longer. NIS 118. Score 91. K
A trio from Trio
Founded by Oran, Tal and Kobi Shaked and located in Ramat Gan, this small winery released its first wines from the 2006 vintage. The winery sources Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot grapes from the Jerusalem Hills and from the Upper Galilee. Releases from 2006 were of 4,000 bottles and current output is about 20,000 bottles. Three wines are currently being released.
Trio, Special Cuvee, 2008: Dark garnet toward royal purple in color, a full-bodied and generously oaked and firmly tannic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in equal parts. Opens slowly in the glass to reveal notes of blackcurrants and black and red berries, those supported nicely by notes of spices, mocha and saddle leather. Best from 2012-2016. NIS 140. Score 91.
Trio, Secret, 2008: An oak-aged blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes, showing full-bodied, with notes of near-sweet cedarwood and soft, gently caressing tannins that yield comfortably to blackberry, currant and red plum fruits. In the background notes of bittersweet chocolate and saddle soap (not to fear, a very positive descriptor reminding one of freshly polished leather ). Tannins and fruits rise together on the moderately long finish. Give this one a bit of time to show its elegance. Best from 2012-2016. NIS 110. Score 91.
Trio, The Spirit of Jerusalem Heights, 2008: Cabernet Sauvignon with the addition of 3 percent Petite Verdot. Dark, almost inky garnet in color, with gently gripping tannins, generous alcohol (14.5 percent ) and appealing hints of spicy cedarwood, now integrating very nicely indeed. Developed in stainless steel vats with oak staves for six months, showing appealing blackberries, raspberries and notes of cassis liqueur, yielding in the glass to notes of blueberries and spices. Drink now-2012. NIS 85. Score 88.
A nod to rock at Na'aman
Founded by Rami and Bettina Na'aman on Moshav Ramot Naftali in the Upper Galilee, this boutique winery released their first wines from the 2004 vintage.
With their own vineyards containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot grapes, the winery's releases from 2004 were just under 1,000 bottles. Current production is about 10,000 bottles annually.
As in past tastings, the Na'aman offerings reflect a sophisticated yet rustic nature.
As is the case with many boutique wineries, sales take place primarily via the winery.
Best contacts are by telephone (04-6944463 ) or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Na'aman, Deep Purple, 2008: A dark garnet, medium to full-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot (40 percent, 30 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent respectively ). Reflecting its 13 months in barriques with softly caressing tannins and spicy cedarwood, the wine opens to reveal appealing blackcurrants, wild berries and licorice notes, all leading to a long and generous finish. Drink now-2013. NIS 95. Score 90.
Na'aman, Black Velvet, 2008: Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (60 percent, 30 percent and 10 percent respectively ) come together in a medium to full-bodied, firmly tannic wine that blossoms slowly in the glass to reveal generous blackberry, currant and herbal notes, those showing fine balance and structure that bode well for the future. The best to date from the winery. Approachable and enjoyable now but best 2012-2016. NIS 95. Score 91.
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