Wine and Spirits / Little-known gems
In continuing with last week's column, following are three more of the country's finest little-known wineries, with e-mail addresses provided.
Set on Kibbutz Tzuba in the Judean Hills, this winery's first release - from the 2005 vintage - consisted of 30,000 bottles. Founded by Moti Tzamir, largely responsible for producing the 2005 and 2006 wines, and with South African-born vintner Paul Dubb now firmly in charge, Tzuba currently issues wines in three series: the top-of-the-line Metzuda, to be produced only in select years; Tel Tzuba of varietal and blended wines; and the popularly priced Maayan. The winery also produces a red dessert wine. Tzuba's grapes all come from the kibbutz's own vineyards. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tzuba, Metzuda, 2007 (advance tasting): Showing even better than at barrel tastings. Dark garnet with purple and orange reflections, a full-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec (60%, 25% and 15% respectively). Full-bodied and concentrated, with still-firm tannins and generous wood waiting to settle in, but already showing balance and structure that bode well for the future. Best from 2011-2015, perhaps longer. Score 92. K
Tzuba, Shiraz, Metzuda, 2007: Made entirely from Shiraz grapes, gently oak-aged and with generous but delicately mouth-coating tannins. Huckleberries and blueberries on first attack, parting to make way for blackberries and a temptingly peppery background. Full-bodied, well-focused and concentrated. Tempting now but has the structure and balance for cellaring. Drink and enjoy now if you will, but best from 2011-2014. Score 90. K
Tzuba, Metzuda, 2006: A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. Deep purple, medium- to full-bodied, reflecting its 24 months in oak with soft tannins and light notes of spicy wood, those coming together with notes of spicy wood. Opening to show black currants, red and black berries and notes of espresso coffee and red licorice. Long and generous. Approachable and enjoyable now, but best from 2012. Score 90. K
Tzuba, Pinot Noir, Tel Tzuba, 2007: Pinot with a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. Dark ruby in color, medium- to full-bodied, with generously caressing soft tannins. On first attack shows floral, mineral and raspberry fruits and then moves on show black cherries, green tea and notes of both licorice and saddle leather. A multi-layered wine. Drink now-2012. Score 89. K
Founded by Meir Akel and Ze'ev Cinamon on Moshav Kfar Truman in the center of the country, not far from Ben-Gurion Airport, this winery draws on grapes from the Ayalon Valley, and its releases have primarily been of Cabernet Sauvignon. Current production stands at about 4,500 bottles annually. E-mail: email@example.com
Natuf, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007: Dark garnet, full-bodied, with still tight tannins needing time to settle down, but showing good balance and structure. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Shiraz, developed in American oak for 15 months. Opens slowly, at first revealing primarily black currants and blackberries, then blossoming to show notes of blueberries, chocolate and freshly ground coffee. Best from mid-2010-2013. Score 88.
Natuf, Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007: A blend of 55% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Shiraz. Aged in oak for 14 months, showing medium- to full-bodied; with generous gripping tannins and wood which part slowly in the glass to reveal an appealing array of red and black berries, red plums and spices. Tannins and wood rise on the finish. Best from mid-2010-2013. Score 87.
Natuf, Shiraz, 2007: Shiraz blended with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and aged for 14 months in French and American oak. Full bodied, with firmly gripping tannins and a generous wood influence, but those starting to settle in now. Opens in the glass to reveal plum and black cherry fruits, supported by hints of spices and saddle leather. Best from mid-2010. Score 86.
Natuf, Merlot, 2006: Blended with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Shiraz, with the soft Merlot dominating. Showing better than at an earlier tasting. Deep garnet towards royal purple, medium- to full-bodied with once chunky tannins now showing far softer. On the nose and palate wild berries, cherries and raspberries. A good dose of acidity makes this a refreshing quaffer. Drink now. Score 85.
Founded by Avi Rosenberg in 2003 with 1,000 wines released, and now producing 10,000 bottles annually, Adir plans to increase to 20,000. The winery uses grapes from Kerem Ben Zimra. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adir, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007: Made entirely of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, aged in mostly French oak for 12 months. Dark garnet and aromatic on the nose, opens in the glass to show generous blackberry, currant and purple plums, supported by cedar-wood and spicy notes. Drink now-2011. Score 88. K
Adir, Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz-Merlot, 2007: Dark ruby towards garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins and a gentle influence of spicy oak. Opens to show appealing red berry, cassis and spicy notes. Not long, but round and generous. Drink now-2011. Score 88. K
Adir, Merlot, 2007: A blend of 86% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months. Dark, almost impenetrably garnet in color, a deeply extracted medium- to full-bodied wine with gripping tannins and spicy wood in good proportion with black fruits, on a background of freshly cured tobacco and dried herbs. Technically correct, but does not come together as a coherent whole and fails to excite. Drink now-2011. Score 86. K
Adir, Plato, 2005: A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Syrah, aged for 12 months in older oak and an additional 12 months in new oak. Dark garnet, showing a bit of clearing at the rim. Full-bodied, with tannins that continue to be quite firm and a good deal of sweet cedar wood that has never fully integrated - but does open on the palate to show appealing notes of raspberry, red currant and vanilla. Starting to show age. Drink now. Score 86. K