Wine and Spirits / Reds Made With a Green Eye

Founded by Yossi Yodfat in the Western Galilee town of Kfar Chlil in 2006, the Abaya winery relies largely on Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Carignan grapes. The winery has a deep commitment to both organic and biodynamic principles, and although some sulfites are used in the winemaking process, they stay within internationally accepted limits. Current production is about 4,500 bottles annually.

As I've often observed, what one should look for in an artisanal winery are wines that carry the "signature" of the winemaker, that reflect his personality and philosophy. This eco-friendly winery certainly does that.

Abaya, Moon-A, 2008: Aged in new French oak for 12 months, a medium- perhaps medium- to full-bodied blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot (50%, 47% and 3% respectively ). Deep garnet, with tannins and oak that make themselves felt in a pleasingly genteel manner; on first attack a clear note of cigar tobacco, parting to make way for purple plums, black currants and espresso coffee. On the long finish, a note of freshly roasted herbs. Drink now-2014. NIS 90. Score 90.

Abaya, Art, 2008: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carignan and Petit Verdot (51%, 25%, 20% and 4% respectively ). Developed in new French oak for 12 months (each variety developed for six months, the blend then made and returned to oak for another six months ), medium- to full-bodied, a round, soft and mouth-filling wine showing an appealing array of black fruits, purple plums and notes of Oriental spices and tobacco. Let this one develop a bit longer and it will also reveal the notes of dark, minted chocolate that are waiting to blossom forth. Approachable and enjoyable now, but best from mid-2011 to 2014. NIS 90. Score 90.

Abaya, Le Rouge, 2008: A medium- to full-bodied, deeply aromatic blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Carignan and 4% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet and generously aromatic, medium- to full-bodied. Made by allowing each variety to first undergo a malolactic fermentation separately, and then allowing those to develop for six months before being blended and returned to French and American oak barrels for another six months. That oak-aging is reflected with soft, gently caressing tannins and a comfortable level of oak, opening in the glass to reveal a generous array of currants, blackberries and wild berries on a background of white pepper, freshly cut Mediterranean herbs - and on the finish, a kiss of licorice. Drink now-2013, perhaps longer. NIS 75. Score 89.