Founded in 2000 by Shlomo and Tsina Avidan, the boutique Avidan winery is located on Kibbutz Eyal in the Sharon region and relies on Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan, Petite Sirah and Merlot grapes selected from various vineyards in the Judean Hills, and is currently producing about 30,000 bottles annually. With major expansion and modernization now completed, wines are released in several series: the age-worthy Premium, Reserve and Avidan, and the Blend des Noirs and Petite Soleil, meant for earlier consumption.
A relatively new series, "Fringe," is so named because the blends are both playful and unusual. The winery has also just released its flagship wine, Mor.
Avidan, Mor, 2006: Made by the recioto method - by drying the grapes on mats before pressing them - this is a full-bodied blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Merlot grapes showing currant and prune notes. Delicious, opulent and harmonious with a very long finish. Drink now-2013. NIS 280. Score 92.
Avidan, Full Wine, Fringe, 2008: Super-dark garnet, a medium to full-bodied, generously tannic blend of 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 percent Petite Sirah. Opens with a nose of freshly turned earth, integrating nicely in the glass and opening to reveal generous blackberry and citrus peel notes, those supported by notes of black pepper and tar. Long and generous, oak-aged for 12 months, approachable and enjoyable now but best 2011-2014, perhaps longer. NIS 160. Score 90.
Avidan, Grenache, Fringe, 2007: An unusual but successful blend of 85 percent Carignan, 10 percent Tempranillo and 5 percent Petite Sirah. Medium to full-bodied, soft and round, reflecting its 16 months in barriques with smooth tannins and a gentle note of spicy wood. On the nose and palate plum, wild berry and notes of spices that linger nicely. Drink now-2012. NIS 130. Score 90.
Avidan, Prio, Fringe, 2007: The name was inspired by a visit to Spain's Priorat region. Dark garnet toward royal purple, full-bodied, with soft, gently caressing tannins, a blend of 40 percent Carignan, 30 percent Grenache and 15 percent each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Oak-aged for two years but showing gentle spicy cedar wood influences. On first attack blackberries followed by cassis and purple plums, all set on a background of truffles and bakers' chocolate. As this one develops look as well for notes of saddle leather and espresso coffee. Approachable and enjoyable now but best 2011-2017. NIS 160. Score 90.
Avidan, Tagsegol, Blend de Noirs, 2008: A blend of Merlot, Shiraz, Petite Sirah and Carignan (40 percent, 25 percent, 20 percent and 15 percent respectively ), those aged in French and American oak for 12 months. Opens with a nose of clean black fruits, goes on to reveal itself as medium to full bodied, with gently gripping tannins and opening to show wild berry, currant, plum and citrus peel, those on a lightly spicy and long-lingering finish. Drink now-2014. NIS 75. Score 90.
Avidan, Tagadom, Blend de Noirs, 2008: Another of Avidan's perhaps odd but quite successful blends, this one of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot (35 percent, 30 percent, 20 percent and 15 percent respectively ). Dark, almost impenetrable garnet toward royal purple, with soft tannins and a gentle wood influence. Opens in the glass to reveal generous purple plum, black cherry and cassis fruits, those on a background that hints at one moment of licorice and at another of minted chocolate. Drink now-2013, perhaps longer. NIS 70. Score 90.
Avidan, Tagsegol, Blend de Noirs, 2007: An identical blend to the 2008 wine above, showing dark garnet toward royal purple, with generous wild berries on the nose and opening in the glass to show medium to full-bodied, with its youthfully firm tannins now integrating nicely. On the nose and palate currant and black cherry fruits on a spicy oak background, all coming to a long finish on which the tannins and fruits rise together. Drink now-2013. NIS 75. Score 89.
Avidan, Tagkatom, Blend de Noirs, 2008: Dark garnet with orange reflections, medium to full-bodied, with gently caressing tannins and notes of spicy wood parting to reveal generous currant, wild berry and purple plum notes, those on a light earthy-mineral background. Drink now-2013. NIS 70. Score 89.
Avidan, Petit Rose, Fringe, 2009: Deep rose petal pink towards salmon colored, a blend of Pinot Noir, Grenache and Carignan. Opens with a tutti-frutti, almost bubble gum-like nose but that passes quickly and with a smile to reveal a light to medium-bodied, lively and crisp rose with hints of light tannins to complement strawberry, cranberry and blueberry notes. As good a bet with fish and seafood as with 350-gram hamburgers. Drink now. NIS 60. Score 88.
Best buy and best wine of the week
Kerem Shvo, Rose, Upper Galilee, 2009: From winemaker Gaby Sadan's brand new and very exciting winery. Made entirely from Barbera grapes and allowing absolutely minimal contact with the skins to allow a light coloring and then allowing fermentation to take place relying on wild yeasts. Light salmon pink in color, light to medium-bodied, a smooth, ripe and generous wine, remarkably well balanced with appealing plum, cherry, berry and raspberry notes and even a light hint of tannins, all leading to a long and supple finish. Not many rose wines earn scores of 90 or higher but this is one of the very best I have ever tasted and comfortably earns its score of 91. At NIS 75 an excellent wine and excellent value.