Recent Red Vinos

"While I find myself drinking more and more white wines as we approach the warm summer season, over that past few weeks, I had the opportunity to sample some fine red wines as well..." Yonatan Sternberg

While I find myself drinking more and more white wines as we approach the warm summer season, over that past few weeks, I had the opportunity to sample some fine red wines as well. If you plan on serving red wines on a warm summer afternoon, I would suggest choosing light or medium bodied reds with relatively low alcohol content. It is also best to slightly chill the wines prior to serving. As the wine warms up in the glass, the alcohol becomes more and more evident impairing and sometimes overpowering the flavors and aromas.

The Barkan winery recently launched three new reds from the 2008 vintage. Considered by many as part of the Reserve category, Barkan’s Altitude label consists of three single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wines. This year the winery also decided to re-brand the series, designing new labels in an attempt to officially position the wine between the Reserve and Superieur labels. The grapes are harvested from vineyards at altitudes ranging from +412 to +720 meters above sea level and are processed using similar methods. This provides us with a chance to compare the traits of the different terroirs. That is, the combination of the micro-climate, soil type, topography and other factors that influence the vine, grapes and consequently impact the wine as well. While I found the Altitude +624 more approachable at this stage, of the three, my favorite was the Altitude +720, 2008 – dark and concentrated in color, showing various black berry fruits, plums and blueberries followed by notes of tobacco, fresh herbs and leather. Full bodied, while still firm, the wine is very well balanced and comes together nicely. It will be interesting to sample this wine again in a few years and see how it develops.

The Golan Heights Winery also came out with a new trio of Syrah based red wines as part of the Yarden label, two of which – the Yarden Syrah, Yonatan Vineyard, 2007 and the Yarden Syrah, Avital Slopes, 2007 – are single vineyard wines. The new wines were showcased last month at the Golan Height’s impressive wine bar, at the Tel Aviv port, which provided wine aficionados an excellent opportunity to sample a wide variety of the winery’s offerings. It was interesting to sample the wines and see both the difference and similarities between them. In my opinion, the wines are still a bit firm and would benefit from a couple of years of additional cellaring. Yarden Syrah, Avital Slopes, 2007 - aged for 18 months in barriques, 2/3 of which were new, dark ruby towards purple in color, full bodied, on the nose and palate ripe cherries, plums, black berry fruits followed by pleasant notes of flowers and smoked meat. The winery suggests serving the wine alongside rich beef stews or eggplant filled with minced lamb.

With a beautiful visitor’s center situated in the Dalton Industrial Park, the Adir winery is offering some fine red wines and goat cheeses, drawing grapes from vineyards in the Kerem Ben Zimra Moshav and other locations in the Upper Galilee. While only producing red wines to date, Marketing Director Yossi Rosenberg mentioned that the winery will also begin production of white wines, starting off with Chardonnay. A new release from the Adir Winery is the Shiraz, 2009 - 100% Shiraz grapes, aged for 12 months in mostly French and some American oak barrels, medium leaning towards full bodied, the wine opens with plums and dusted purple flowers followed by various dark berry fruits, vanilla, cloves and a hint of dark chocolate leading to a pleasant finish. With only 13% alcohol content, this is also a very food friendly wine and should go well with fresh pasta topped with meat Ragu or grilled meats. If you make it up to the visitor’s center, don’t forget to ask for a taste of Adir’s goat milk ice cream.

While not a recent release, the following was served at a friend’s dinner party last week and all of the participants seemed to genuinely enjoy the wine. Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2008 - The 2008 wines were the first wines produced by Recanati's new winemaking team – Gil Shatzberg and Ido Lewinson. The style of the Recanati wines has somewhat changed and today their offerings are often more elegant when compared with previous vinos. Recanati’s Cab Reserve 08 is dark ruby in color. With good structure and soft tannins, the wine suggests concentrated aromas of dark berry fruits, young plums, both fresh and dried Mediterranean herbs followed by hints of black pepper and cloves all leading to a long and pleasant finish.