Israeli wineries are multiplying at such a rapid pace that no wine store in the country can possibly stock all of the wines being released. In fact, with wineries, mostly small, but with some producing up to several hundred thousand bottles a year competing almost wildly for business, consumers (and even wine critics) have never even heard of some of these wineries and are hard pressed to know just who is presenting what to the market. If the truth be told, some of these wines are quite good but some are pretty poor. Following are reviews of a potpourri of recently released wines, some kosher, others not, some of which will be found in wine shops, others in mini- and super-markets and yet others only at the wineries themselves.
Somek, Bikat Hanadiv, Reserve, 2005: Dark, almost inky garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, this 24 months oak-aged blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carignan and Petite Sirah (40%, 40%, 15% and 5% respectively) opens with a rich crushed berry and spicy nose. Firmly tannic at this stage of its development, but with gently mouth-coating tannins and spicy wood integrating nicely the wine opens to reveal blackberry and cassis fruits, those with overlays of tobacco and chocolate. Drink now-2012. Score 90.
Somek, Bikat Hanadiv Reserve, 2004: A generously oak-aged blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Petite Sirah, showing good balance between spicy wood and firm tannins. On first attack purple plums and blueberries, those yielding to black fruits, chocolate and hints of espresso coffee all lingering nicely on the palate. Drink now-2009. Score 88.
Somek, Carignan, 2004: Oak-aged for 20 months in French barriques, medium-boied, with generous black fruits, spicy oak and vanilla, a softly tannic wine that opens nicely on the palate. Plenty of spicy wood here but that well integrated and, on the long finish hints of orange peel and chocolate. Drink now. Score 88
Somek, Merlot, 2004: Deep ruby towards garnet, medium-bodied, with gently mouth-coating tannins. Showing spices and vanilla from its oak-aging, those parting to reveal a generous array of currant and wild berry fruits and, on the moderately-long finish an appealing hint of Mediterranean herbs. Drink now-2009. Score 87.
Gvaot, Herodion, Cabernet Sauvignon, Herodion, 2006: Opens with a lightly funk, earthy aroma, that passing quicky and turning clean and deeply aromatic. Reflecting its development in barriques with full-body, firm tannins and generous spicy wood, those integrating nicely and showing appealing currant, blackberry, green olives and Mediterranean herbs. Best 2009-2012. Score 89. K
Gvaot, Gofna Reserve, Merlot, 2006: Dark garnet towards royal purple, medium- to full-bodied with gently mouth-coating tannins. Blended with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and oak-aged for 14 months, opens to reveal blueberry and black cherry fruits on a background of roasted chestuts and licorice. Long and generous. Drink now-2010. Score 89.K
Gvaot, Herodion, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2006: Dark ruby towards garnet, aged for 14 months primarily in used French barriques , showing medium-bodied, with gently mouth-coating tannins. Round, soft and rich with appealing red berry and cassis notes, those on a lightly spicy background. Long and generous. Drink now-2010. Score 88. K
Gvaot, Gofna Reservet, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005: Generous spicy wood here after 24 months development in French oak but showing smooth and round. Almost inky-dark garnet in color, full-bodied, with concentrated black cherry and blackberry fruits. The tannins rise from mid-palate on and lead to a long and intense finish. Drink now-2010. Score 87. K
Gvaot,Gofna Reserve, Chardonnay-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007: This white wine, a blend of 78% Chardonnay and 22 Cabernet Ssauvignon, the Cabernet made in the blanc de noirs style. Light golden straw in color, crisply dry, medium-bodied, a white that in addition to peach and apple fruits shows notes of berries and even a hint of tannins. An oddball, but a pleasant oddball and most definitely meant for quite early drinking. Score 86. K
Meishar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve 730, 2004: Full-bodied, this red reflects its 18 months in oak with firm tannins and sweet cedar notes, those integrating nicely with black cherries, ripe currants, and light chocolate mousse flavors that sneak in quietly on the finish. Drink now–2010. Score 89.
Meishar, Merlot, 2005: Medium-dark garnet, medium-bodied and with silky tannins allowing raspberry, blackberry and cassis fruits to show through nicely, those complemented by generous hints of cocoa and a light earthy-graphite sensation that lingers nicely. Drink now–2010. Score 88.
Meishar, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, #41, 2005: Light ruby in color, light- to medium-bodied, with soft tannins and forward berry, cherry and cassis notes. One dimensional and somewhat dilute. Drink now. Score 83.
Essence, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2005: Dark ruby towards garnet, medium to full-bodied, with chunky country-style tannins and generous spicy wood. Opens to reveal berry, black cherry and cassis fruits. Drink now. Score 85.
Essence, Merlot, 2005: Oak-aged for 14 months, with now soft tannins and once generous wood now integrating, this medium-bodied red opens in the glass to show berry and cherry fruits. A pleasant quaffer. Drink now. Score 84.
Essence, Electrum, 2005: Aged in barriques for 24 months, this medium-bodied blend of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot shows drying tannins and a distinctly bitter note that overlays black cherry and currant notes. Drink now. Score 84.
Red Poetry, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2005: Medium- to full-bodied, showing good balance between soft tannins and an appealing spicy cedar note and opening to reveal currant and black cherry fruits. Soft and round. Drink now-2010. Score 85.
Red Poetry, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005: Ruby towards garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely and showing generous plum, currant and wild berry fruits. Moderately long. Drink now. Score 85.
Red Poetry, Merlot, 2005: Dark ruby in color, medium-bodied with soft near-sweet tannins and spices from the oak in which it aged. On the nose and palate appealing red berry and red currant fruits leading to a lightly herbal and green olive finish. Drink now. Score 85.