Considering that most of the wines from the recent 2008 harvest have completed their malolactic fermentation and that many are now getting ready to bottle their 2006 and 2007 wines, I am at that "fringe moment" just before starting my major rounds of winery visits within Israel. And, as seems to happen every year, just before that seems to be my time for coffee and lunch meetings with winemakers. Today (Thursday, 20 November 2008), it was my pleasure to lunch with Ya'ir Margalit.
One has to realize that I have known Margalit since shortly after he released his first wine, that from the 1989 vintage. Margalit and I share some wondrous tales – at least some about a man named Tibo and his wife Delauney and how we met at that marvelous but doomed restaurant. I suspect he also remembers those first harvests when I came to visit him at his then mini-winery at Kfar Bilu. We also reminisce about how pleasant it was to meet by chance and go for a coffee or two when he still lived on Tel Aviv's Rehov Basel.
Whatever, at such meetings a great many items come up for discussion and among others today, developments within and the future of the local wine industry, his and Assaf's plans for the future of their winery and, from the second point of view, the dilemmas of ranking and scoring not wines but wineries in my little guide. Much food for thought and continued consideration.
Among other things, Margalit brought with him a bottle of his 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a wine that I have praised since its release but now even more – for in recent months the wine has blossomed and is now showing even better than in the past. The wine was taken with our meal at Dixie (my own meal was of Dixie's very special chicken wings and then on to a 250 gram burger, that with both bacon and cheese and accompanied by a side order of home-fried potatoes). Easy to enjoy a wine under such circumstances but difficult to evaluate it fully so on return home I opened half a dozen Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the 2003 vintage, those including the Margalit wine, in order to see if it was not the pleasant atmosphere, the good company and the good food that had influenced me. No problem…..a lovely, lovely wine. My tasting note follows.
Margalit, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003: Drinking beautifully, this blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cabernet Franc, both from the Kadita vineyard in the Upper Galilee is showing full-bodied, remarkably rich and with fine balance and structure. Opens as it did in its youth with earthy currants and black cherry fruits and then goes on to reveal notes of raspberries, mocha and chocolate. Generous tannins here but those now gently caressing, giving the wine both roundness and elegance, all leading to a super-long finish on which one finds at one moment a note of anise and another a hint of saddle leather. At its best now but this one will hold its peak comfortably until 2015, perhaps longer. Score 94. (Re-tasted twice with consistent notes 20 Nov 2008)