Recent Red Wines

Yonatan Sternberg recommends about some new Israeli red wines

The recent Passover holiday was an excellent opportunity to sample some new Israeli red wines. Festive holiday meals and family get-togethers are always a good excuse to uncork a good vino. Following are tasting notes from several red vinos that I have sampled over the holiday:

Adir, ‘A’, Red, 2013 – The Adir Winery, situated in the Dalton industrial park offers a variety of red and white vinos and if you happen to be up north over Passover, stop by and try their goat cheese ice cream. Aside from the winery, Adir also operates a large goat dairy farm offering cheeses and other goat milk based products. A 60/30/10 blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, 20 months in oak barrels, medium to full bodied, a bit firm when first poured so allow some time to aerate, the wine suggests aromas and flavors of dark berry fruits, cloves, fresh peppery notes, alongside roasted coffee and oak. With a medium-long finish and good “soft” structure, this is a very enjoyable vino.

Avidan, Red Tag, 2014 – Established in 2004 as a boutique family winery, Avidan is situated on Kibbutz Eyal and produces a range of varietal and blended wines that are full of character. The Red Tag 2014 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot which were developed in French oak. Bright ruby with a purple rim, the wine is medium bodied with juicy aromas and flavours that bring to mind ripe plums, various berry fruits, black pepper, flowers and a touch of cloves coming together nicely and leading to a pleasant finish. The winery was closed for a while due to the passing of founder and winemaker Zina Avidan (Z”l) and recently renewed its production with Zina’s family member’s teaming up with Amit Toledo who also serves as the winemaker at the Trio winery.

Barkan, Altitude, +624, 2011 – the Altitude label is a great marketing/branding effort on the one hand while on the other, it provides an interesting opportunity to compare Cab Sauv wines, all processed in the same way with the only difference being the altitude and location of the vineyards. Barkan recently released the 2011 Altitude vinos and my favorite was the +624 – i.e. the vineyard is at 624 meters above sea level. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, 14 months in primarily French oak, the wine suggests generous notes of black berry fruits, currants and sweet spices integrated nicely with toasted oak and a touch of caramel leading to a long finish. 13% alcohol makes this a rather easy drinking wine as well and will be interesting to taste it again in a couple of years.

Barkan, Assemblage, Tsafit, 2012 – developed for 12 months in French & American oak, this is an interesting blend comprising Marselan, Caladoc, Pinotage and Malbec of varying proportions. The wine is medium-full bodied bodied with a generous dose of acidity that balances and brings out aromas and flavors of ripe black fruits, dry herbs and dark chocolate followed by notes of leather, black pepper and a pleasant earthiness coming together nicely and leading to a medium-long and slightly dry finish. An enjoyable and interesting wine.

Dalton, ‘D’, Petite Sirah, 2014 – I am a fan of Israeli Petite Sirah wines and while usually, not very complex, I find them full of character and excellent alongside a grilled steak or quality sausages. Dalton’s version is true to the grape’s character, 12 months in American oak barrels, dark garnet in color, a bit chewy, medium to full bodied, with pleasant notes of dark berry fruits, blueberries, vanilla, good balancing-refreshing acidity and an enjoyable spiciness leading to a medium-long finish.

Teperberg, Essence, Malbec, 2013 – Teperberg’s recent rebranding efforts help to provide clarity and focus (at least on the consumer’s end) and today the winery’s portfolio is divided into five labels. Teperberg has consistently produced good Malbec wines over the years and this one is up to par. 100% Malbec grapes which developed for 18 months in primarily new French barrels. Dark in color, medium – leaning towards full bodied, the wine offers concentrated notes of plums, cherries and sweet spices. Tannins are still a bit firm but integrating nicely and overall, this is a very enjoyable vino.