The list that follows includes a number of local wines, many of which are truly excellent and well-priced (between NIS 50-200 ). A lot of people complain about the high prices of Israeli wines, but the truth is that one can find a large selection of wines here at reasonable prices. When looked at next to Italian, French or Spanish wines that earn comparable scores, one will find that prices in Israel are not all that high.
Castel, Grand Vin Castel, 2008: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec (60%, 20%, 10%, 6% and 4% respectively ). Deeply aromatic, full-bodied and with fine concentration; opening to show true elegance with layer after layer of complexity and depth. Near-sweet, gently caressing tannins come together with lightly spicy cedarwood to highlight aromas and flavors of black currants, blackberries and fresh Mediterranean herbs, and on the super-long finish, a tantalizing note of baking chocolate. Perhaps Castel's best to date. Drink now-2018. NIS 200. Score 93. K
Carmel, Cabernet Franc, Appellation Series, Upper Galilee, 2008: Made primarily from Cabernet Franc grapes, fleshed out with a bit of Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Developed in mostly used barriques for 10 months; dark garnet with appealing spicy oak on the nose, full-bodied and concentrated. On the nose and palate raspberries, blackberries and plums, on a background of Mediterranean herbs and what at one moment seems to be eucalyptus and the next to be mint. Fine balance and structure. Drink now-2016. NIS 65. Score 91. K
Savion, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006: Made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, showing medium- to full-bodied with soft, gently caressing tannins, integrating nicely with notes of spicy cedar wood and fruits. On first attack ripe plums, going on to blackberries and currants. Tannins, fruits and a note of minted chocolate rise nicely on the finish. Drink now-2014. NIS 110. Score 90.
Agur, Special Reserve, 2008: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (50%, 25% 10% and 5% respectively ). Developed in oak for 18 months, showing deep royal purple toward garnet, a firm and concentrated wine, with still-gripping tannins and smoky wood settling in nicely to reveal an array of cassis, blackberry and raspberry fruits, on a background of spices and earthy minerals. Drink now-2013. NIS 100. Score 89. K
Alona, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007: Dark garnet, full-bodied, with firm tannins and spicy oak in fine balance with fruits and acidity. On the nose and palate black currants, wild berries and citrus peel, complemented nicely by notes of Mediterranean herbs and green olives. Drink now-2013. NIS 75. Score 89.
Galil Mountain, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008: Garnet red in color, a medium- to full-bodied, softly tannic blend of equal parts Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose and palate cherries, raspberries, a gentle hint of dusty oak and an appealing hint of white pepper that rises on the finish. Drink now-2013. NIS 60. Score 88. K
Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Single, Marom Galil, 2008: Oak-aged for 18 months, showing dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins that highlight currant, blackberry and black cherry fruits, on a background that hints at one moment of mint and another of green olives and Mediterranean herbs. Drink now-2013. NIS 50. Score 88. K
No one has ever accused us of taking the wines in Carmel's Young Selected series with any modicum of seriousness. These are light, frivolous wines which may, in fact, be an ideal drink for young people or for those just getting into wine. And, at NIS 28 each, they are quite affordable.
Carmel, Carignano, Young Selected, 2010: Cherry red, light in body, with no perceptible tannins; a young wine, quite frivolous on the nose and palate but offering up a good deal of uncomplicated pleasure. Aromas and flavors of cherries and red berries, a low alcohol content (6% ) and light sweetness carried nicely by lively acidity. A lovely entry-level wine, fun for breakfast or picnics. Drink now. Score 85. K
Carmel, Moscato, Young Selected, 2010: Think of this as ginger ale that happens to be made from grapes and has an alcohol content of 5.5%. With about the same level of sweetness as the aforementioned ginger ale, a light and simple wine for those who enjoy their wines on the sweet side. Drink now. Score 84. K