Today (Monday 27 October) I attended the press unveiling of the 2005 wine from The Cave. Releasing its first red wine from the 2000 vintage as the boutique arm of Binyamina Wineries, this small winery has its barrel storage facilities in a cave at the foothills of Mount Carmel, not far from the town of Zichron Ya’akov. It should be understood that The Cave is not so much an independent winery as it an extension of Binyamina, the wines made by the same winemakers, vinified at the main winery and only then transferred to barriques for barrel aging in an artificial cave, that built in the sixteenth century. The cave itself is breathtaking- 90 meters long and 9-10 meters high, with stone lined walls and roof and maintaining a constant natural temperature and humidity. The winery is currently releasing 20,000 bottles annually of a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend made by the winemakers of Binyamina. The grapes come from a single vineyard in Kerem Ben Zimra in the Upper Galilee.
Today's tasting included tastings of barrel components of the 2006 and 2007 wine as well as that of the newly released 2005 wine. On return home, I continued my work with blind re-tastings of the 2005 wine as well as of the wines of 2001-2004. My tasting notes follow. As a point of interest, the 2005 wine is now making its way to market. The suggest price in Israel is NIS 170 and in the USA US$ 55 per bottle.
My thanks to CEO Illan Hasson and winemakers Sasson Ben-Aharon and Assaf Paz for their courtesies.
The Cave, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Petit Verdot, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Tasted as three separate components and then as a blend made in my own glass. Dark garnet towards youthful royal purple in color, with generous blackberry, purple plum and peppery notes here, those supported by hints of smoke and saddle leather on the finish. Best 2010-2014. Tentative Score 87-89. K (Tasted 27 Oct 2008)
The Cave, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2006 (Barrel Tasting): Tasted as components but already showing full-body, firm tannins and an array of currant, berry and black cherry fruits. Good potential balance and structure here leading to a moderately long finish. Best 2009-2012. Tentative Score 86-88. K (Tasted 27 Oct 2008)
The Cave, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2005: Showing much as at an advance tasting. Full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely and showing a moderate dose of spicy cedarwood, all in fine balance with fruits and acidity. A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot, those vinified separately before the final blend was made near bottling time. Dark garnet toward royal-purple in color, with currant, blackberry, spices and hints of bitter orange peel all coming together as a long and coherent whole. Drink now–2011. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 27 Oct 2008)
The Cave, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2004: Medium-bodied, with soft tannins integrating well with acidity and a generous dose of wood from its 26 months in French oak. Dark royal-purple in color, with aromas and flavors of red berries and cassis, with the wood and tannins rising on the finish at this stage. Drink now–2010. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 27 Oct 2008)
The Cave, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2003: Dark garnet, full-bodied, with once-firm tannins and generous spicy oak now integrating nicely. On the nose and palate currants, blackberries and purple plums on a background of tobacco and light earthy-herbaceousness. A hint of chocolate on the finish. Drink now. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 27 Oct 2008)
The Cave, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2002: Oak-aged for 20 months, this medium to full-bodied wine, a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot, with once-firm and generous tannins now integrating nicely. Opens with a bit of bottle stink, but that blows off quickly to reveal a generously fruity and elegant wine. On the nose and palate, black currants, blackberries, black plums and vanilla, those leading to a generous finish on which you will find hints of green olives and Mediterranean herbs. Drink up. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 27 Oct 2008)
The Cave, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, 2001: Dark garnet, going to brick-red, medium to full-bodied, with tannins now showing somewhat flabby but opening as it did in the past to reveal aromas and flavors of currants, berries and red plums. What were once gentle herbal and spicy overtones are now going to licorice and menthol. Showing age. Drink up. Score 85. K (Re-tasted 27 Oct 2008)