Here is a partial list of some of the very best Israeli wines available, any of which will make for fine drinking at the Passover seder or at any other dinner.
Flam, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2008: Developed in new French oak for 18 months, a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% each of Merlot and Petit Verdot. Deep, almost impenetrable garnet in color, with spicy oak on the nose but gracefully showing only gently in the glass. On the nose and palate: wild berries, blackcurrants and spiced plums, with a background that hints alternately of garrigue and roasted herbs. Drink now-2020. NIS 160. Score 94.
Pelter, "I," 2008: The new flagship of the winery, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in approximately equal parts, those aged in French oak, deeply extracted, opening with raspberries and chocolate on the nose, going on to a complex array of aromas and flavors, including currants, plums, black olives and citrus peel. Not so much a Bordeaux as a deeply elegant wine with a distinctly Mediterranean note. Full-bodied and concentrated, needs time for its elements to come together. Approachable now but best mid-2012-2018, perhaps longer. NIS 280. Score 94.
Margalit, Cabernet Franc, 2009: Dark cherry red toward garnet, a supple, round and thoroughly graceful wine, full-bodied but seeming to float on the palate with soft tannins that caress rather than grip and gentle wood influences giving the wine a plush feel to the mouth. On the nose distinct notes of red fruits, those yielding comfortably in the glass to aromas and flavors of ripe cherries, currants, spices and, from mid-palate on, a tantalizing hint of mint. Thoroughly enjoyable now but best 2013-2021. A fascinating marriage between power and elegance. NIS 180. Score 93.
Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin, Yarden, 2007: Tasted twice earlier from the barrels and now as a pre-release. A blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot, showing dark garnet to royal purple in color with spicy and smoky oak and gently mouth-coating tannins in fine balance with fruits. On first attack blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries, those making way for notes of honey-sweetened chewing tobacco, roasted herbs and, on the super long finish with fruits and tannins rising comfortably, a generous hint of baking chocolate. Best 2012-2015. NIS 380. Score 93. K
Recanati, Special Reserve, 2007: With its once-firm tannins now settling in nicely and with fine balance with spicy wood and fruits, showing very well indeed. Dark garnet in color, full-bodied but with a remarkable sense of "lightness" as it sits on the palate, opens with a berry-cherry nose and then goes on to show aromas and flavors of currants, red cherries and wild berries, on a background of sweet cedar and dark chocolate. Long and generous. Remarkably approachable despite its youth but still cellar-worthy. Drink now-2015. NIS 180. Score 93. K
Carmel, Shiraz, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi, Upper Galilee, 2006: Deep garnet with hints of royal purple and casting orange and green reflections, a concentrated wine, full-bodied and deeply extracted yet showing remarkably soft tannins and spicy wood that almost melts on the palate. On first attack plums and currants, making way for black cherries, hints of saddle leather and notes of asphalt. On the long and generous finish with tannins rising a comfortable overlay of freshly roasted herbs and cedar. Drink now-2016. NIS 120. Score 93. K
Binyamina, Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, The Cave, 2007: A limited edition, showing dark, almost impenetrable garnet with just a hint of royal purple at the rim. Full-bodied, with generous but remarkably round tannins and gentle notes of spicy wood. On the nose red fruits, vanilla and a hint of cinnamon. Opens in the glass to reveal traditional Cabernet blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, complemented by notes of bittersweet chocolate and freshly cured tobacco. Concentrated but showing its strength discrete and elegant ways. Fully enjoyable now but best mid-2012-2018, perhaps longer. Indeed, the best ever from The Cave and from Binyamina. NIS 280. Score 93. K
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 and opening to show true elegance with layer after layer of complexity and depth. Near-sweet tannins that caress gently come together with lightly spicy cedar to highlight aromas and flavors of blackcurrants, blackberries and fresh Mediterranean herbs and, on the super long finish, a tantalizing note of baking chocolate. Drink now-2018. NIS 245. Score 93. K
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