Wine and Spirits / Tulips for Your Two Lips

Among my recent wine-related adventures was a visit to the Tulip winery. Located on Kfar Tikva near the town of Kiryat Tivon, this winery is an effort of the Yitzhaki family and draws on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes from the Alma vineyard and other locations in the Upper Galilee, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from the Yosef and Mata vineyards near Jerusalem.

The winery is currently releasing about 100,000 bottles annually in four series: varietal Grand Reserve and Reserve; blended wines in the Mostly series; and single-variety wines in the Just series. Also released are top-of-the-line Black Tulip and White Tulip blends. The winery continues to produce high quality wines many of which are an excellent value for the money.

Tulip, Black Tulip, 2006: A distinctly Bordeaux blend, this year of 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Merlot, 13 percent Cabernet Franc and 7 percent Petit Verdot. Developed in barriques for 30 months, and at this stage of its development showing full-bodied, the tannins still gripping and the wood rather pronounced but with structure and balance that bode well for the future. On first attack, aromas and flavors of cigar box, blueberries and black pepper, those yielding to notes of currants and wild berries. Long, mouth-filling and complex. Approachable and enjoyable now but best starting in 2011 and then until 2014, perhaps longer. NIS 175. Score 91.

Tulip, Syrah, Reserve, 2007: Blended with 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and oak-aged for 16 months, dark and full-bodied, with spicy wood and softly gripping tannins in fine balance and integrating nicely with rich blackberry, wild berry and black cherry fruits. New World Syrah that almost gives you the feeling that you could eat it with a spoon. Sumptuous, deep and long. Drink now-2013. NIS 98. Score 91.

Tulip, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2007: Full-bodied, with still gripping tannins and reflecting spicy wood from its 18 months in barriques, those in fine balance with fruits and acidity. Dark garnet, opening with red currants and raspberries, going in the glass to both black currants and blackberries, all on a background of Mediterranean herbs and, along with tannins rising on the finish a note of earthy minerals. Drinking very nicely now but best 2011-2014. NIS 95. Score 91.

Tulip, Shiraz, Mostly, 2007: Deep garnet, reflecting its 14 months in primarily new oak, a blend, as the name of the series implies, mostly of Shiraz, flushed out by Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (54 percent, 30 percent, 11 percent and 5 percent respectively). Full-bodied, with still-firm tannins and a generous spicy oak influence in fine balance with fruits and acidity but needing a bit of time for the elements to integrate. On the nose and palate blackberries, black currants and notes of mint and, on the generous finish a note of leather. Enjoyable now but best 2011-2014, perhaps longer. NIS 79. Score 90.

Tulip Cabernet Sauvignon, Just, 2008: Made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, dark garnet with violet and orange reflections, showing surprisingly generous wood after only eight months in oak but that in good balance with tannins and fruits. On the nose and palate traditional Cabernet black currant, blackberry and spices, those with an appealing earthy-herbal overlay that lingers nicely on the palate. NIS 67. Score 88.

Tulip, Cabernet Franc, Mostly, 2007: Cabernet Franc blended with 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark, almost impenetrable garnet, developed in French oak barriques for 14 months, showing generous spicy wood and firm tannins, yielding slowly in the glass to a nose rich in sweet herbs and, on the palate blackberries, blueberries and green peppers on a light earthy-mineral background. Best from mid-2010 to 2012. NIS 79. Score 88.

Tulip, Merlot, Just, 2008: Reflecting its eight months in French oak with notes of near-sweet cedar wood and soft tannins. Dark garnet toward royal purple, medium to full-bodied, with generous wild berry and currant fruits. Not long but soft, round and generous. Drink now or in the next year or two. NIS 67. Score 87.

Tulip, White Tulip, 2008: A somewhat odd but quite successful unoaked blend of 60 percent Gewurztraminer and 40 percent Sauvignon Blanc. Golden straw toward lemon-lime in color, medium-bodied and deeply aromatic, reflecting an array of aromas and flavors, including freshly mowed grass, lychee, grapefruit and peppermint. Plenty of fresh acidity to keep the wine refreshing. Drink now. NIS 67. Score 87.

Founded in 2003 as Erez Winery by Erez Sadon and renamed in 2005, the Tura boutique winery is located in Rechalim in Samaria and has vineyards on Har Bracha at an elevation of 840 meters. The winery is currently producing about 12,000 bottles annually, primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay grapes.

The wines sell for about NIS 130 each. Purchases and further information can be obtained by sending an email to

Tura, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2006: A blend of 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 percent Merlot. Oak-aged for 21 months in mostly new French oak, deep garnet, full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely and showing an appealing array of wild berry, currant and cassis liqueur notes, those supported nicely by notes of licorice and spicy cedar wood. Drink now-2011. Score 85. K

Tura, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006: Showing vastly different than at an earlier tasting, different enough that I might think they were two different wines. Deep, dark garnet, medium to full-bodied, with what were only two months ago chunky country-style tannins now settling in and softening. Generous currant and blackberry fruits here but continuing to reflect its 21 months in oak with sawdust-like notes on the nose and a light medicinal aroma that rises on the finish. Drink now. Score 83. K

Tura, Merlot, 2006: Again, very different from my original tasting. Instead of ruby toward garnet, now showing dark garnet; not so much medium-bodied as closer to full-bodied; and with the notes of sawdust on the nose and palate now replaced by black fruit and floral notes. Acidity rises on the finish as do hints of licorice and a not totally wanted note of iodine. Drink now. Score 82. K