Wine and Spirits / A Rising Star

Pelter Winery on Kibbutz Ein Zivan was established in 2002 by Tal Pelter, who studied oenology and worked at several wineries in Australia

Pelter Winery on Kibbutz Ein Zivan was established in 2002 by Tal Pelter, who studied oenology and worked at several wineries in Australia. The winery draws on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot and Chardonnay grapes from the Golan, the Upper Galilee and the Jerusalem Mountains. The winery, one of only three in the country to produce a sparkling wine, releases wines in two series, T-Selected and Pelter, and current production is about 35,000 bottles annually.

Far more important than the statistics, Pelter, who is one of the rising stars on the local wine scene, seems to be one of those winemakers who has set out to do things "his way," striving not only for wines that will attain excellence, but that will also reflect his personality and philosophy.

Pelter, Cabernet Franc, T-Selection, 2005: Reflecting its development in new French oak for 14 months with spicy wood and mouth-coating tannins, both integrating nicely. Full-bodied, with a generous array of black fruits opening to reveal overlays of fresh Mediterranean herbs, and finally on the long finish, espresso coffee and dark chocolate and a tantalizing hint of crushed raspberries. Best 2009-2013. NIS 140 Score 92.

Pelter, Shiraz-Grenache, T-Selection, 2005: Dark garnet to inky purple, full-bodied, with firm tannins integrating nicely but needing time. Reflecting its 14 months in French barriques with spicy cedar, this blend of 60 percent Shiraz and 40 percent Grenache shows concentrated purple plum, blackberry and citrus peel notes, on a tantalizing background changing from sweet herbs to licorice. Drink now-2014. NIS 140 Score 92.

Pelter, Shiraz, T-Selection, 2005: Dark crimson, opening with a generous jolt of vanilla on the nose, this full-bodied, round and elegant wine shows a plentiful array of plum and currant fruits, freshly tanned leather and an appealing, earthy herbaceousness. Soft but gripping tannins that linger well into the long finish. Elegance is the word. Best 2008-2012. NIS 160 Score 91.

Pelter, Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz, 2005: Deep ruby to garnet, full-bodied, with a generous backbone of wood and tannins, integrating nicely. On the nose and palate, blackcurrants, blackberries, raspberries and cherries, supported by appealing earthy and herbal notes. Deep, long and smooth. Best 2008-2012. NIS 100 Score 91.

Pelter, Sauvignon Blanc, 2006: Light damp straw in color, unoaked and with fine balancing acidity to set off fresh and refreshing aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, white peaches, green apples and, as in last year's release, a hint of celery. Nothing complex here but a wine that enchants. Drink now or in the next year or so. NIS 65. Score 90.

Pelter, Semillon, 2006: Fermented partly in stainless steel and partly in barriques for three months. Straw-colored, opening with citrus peel and pear aromas and flavors, those going to melon and green apples, all with an appealing spicy overlay. Drink now-2009. NIS 75. Score 90. Pelter, Chardonnay, 2006: Light- to medium-bodied and unoaked, showing fine acidity to keep the wine lively. Light golden straw in color, aromatic and showing crisp peach, citrus and flinty minerals. A delightful match to oysters. Drink now or in the next year or so. NIS 54. Score 89.

Pelter, Trio, 2005: A blend this year of 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 percent each of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Medium- to full-bodied, reflecting its 14 months in oak with moderate smoky, almost musky, aromas and soft tannins integrating nicely. Opens to show a tempting array of cassis, berry and black cherry fruits, those leading to a long, lightly spicy finish. Best 2008-2012. NIS 75. Score 91.

And from another boutique winery:

Benhaim, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tradition, 2003: A blend of 88 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 7 percent Merlot and 5 percent Petite Sirah, this dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied wine reflects its 14 months in barriques with generous spicy oak and tannins that are now settling down nicely and showing fine balance with currant, blackberry, chocolate and notes of espresso coffee on the long finish. Drink now-2009. NIS 89. Score 89. K

Benhaim, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2003: Deep ruby to garnet, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (88 percent), Merlot (7 percent) and Petite Sirah (5 percent) opens with generous oak and tannins, but those now integrating nicely to reveal currant, berry and purple plum fruits, with appealing overlays of chocolate and vanilla. Drink now-2009. NIS 119. Score 88. K

Benhaim, Grande Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003: Reflectng more than two years in new oak with full body, generous spicy and dusty wood and firm tannins that, as in its infancy, tended to overpower the fruits. Given time in the glass, this wine opens to reveal currant, purple plum and chocolate, but the wood rising again on the finish. NIS 135. Drink now-2009. Score 86. K