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WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:20 pm

On Tuesday, 4 November, I tasted three of the wines in Segal's single vineyard Rechasim series. The first of those was their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and the second the 2004 Merlot (the tasting notes for which can be found at viewtopic.php?f=29&t=19781&p=170071 )

The third wine was the Argaman wine in the same series. Argaman, for the uninitiated is a cross between Carignan and Souzao grapes, an entirely Israeli invention – in fact, the only grape that has originated in Israel in modern times. It has been no secret that I have shown a marked lack of enthusiasm for this grape since its introduction some twenty years ago. Some people have yet to forgive me for writing when the grape was first unveiled that "Argaman has three major plusses – excellent color, excellent color and excellent color". I found then as I have over the years with the few varietal wines that have been released from this grape that Argaman lacked body, depth, aroma, flavor or charm.

Because I found the wine very closed at that first tasting, I obtained several other bottles to set aside, my plan being to taste one about a month from that tasting and then ever three-four months thereafter. The time had come and today's tasting included the wine. Before the tasting note, let it be said that (a) I find winemaker Avi Feldstein of Segal one of the most charming and pleasant people in the entire local wine industry; (b) I thoroughly enjoy Feldstein's desire to occasionally be playful and (c) that he makes some excellent wines. Despite all of which, unlike quite a few of my colleagues, I have a few problems with this wine, the tasting note for which follows.

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Segal, Argaman, Rechasim, Dovev, 2006: Dark, literally impenetrable royal purple in color and medium- to full bodied, one might be tempted to think this wine was made entirely from Argaman grapes (a cross between Carignan and Sauzao) but that is not quite the case. Argaman may boast fantastic depth of color but is, to be charitable, lacking in most other qualities (e.g. tannins, aroma or flavour), so to give this wine the "push" it needed, it was fermented on the skins of Merlot grapes and then aged in French and American oak barriques, half of which were new, for 18 months. It might not be unfair to say that while we can credit the Argaman grapes for the wine's deep color, the tannins, flavours and acids came from the Merlot and the oak. Despite all of which, the spicy and smoky wood proves somewhat dominant, the tannins come out as just a bit chunky (i.e. country-style) and the plum and berry flavors prove jammy and perhaps just a bit too near-sweet. Interestingly, not a bad wine so much as it is a highly stylized wine that many may enjoy. My estimate is that this is not a wine meant for cellaring, its elements never coming together fully and perhaps destined to collapse within the next year or two. Worth trying a bottle to see if this is to your taste. Drink now or in the next year or so. Score 85. K (Re-tasted 3 Dec 2008)
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Gary J » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:23 am

I wonder why more people aren't as fascinated by this as I am. An indigenous Israeli varietal!!! Fermented on the skins of another varietal???!!! Cool stuff. Worth a try in my book!

Thanks for the heads up!
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Z Spigelman » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:34 am

I tasted the Argaman last Friday at Derech HaYayin - not my cup of tea - and left me with a strange aftertaste that I find difficult to describe.
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:45 am

Gary J wrote:I wonder why more people aren't as fascinated by this as I am. An indigenous Israeli varietal!!! Fermented on the skins of another varietal???!!! Cool stuff. Worth a try in my book!



Gary, Hi.....

As to an indigenous varietal - let's keep in mind that on its own the grape has proven a remarkable failure. In fact, many of the vineyards planted in Argaman have been and continue to be re-planted with other, more moble grapes.

With re frementing on the skins of another variety - not quite the same as a blend but if using the other varietal in order to add tannins, body and flavor, why bother with the first grape at all

As I said earlier, an "interesting" experiment. Among other things, let us now wait and see if a wine made from this grape and using this method has a life span of more than 1 -2 years.

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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Lior Yogev » Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:08 am

As for "worth trying" - I fully agree (although I'm not sure I'd pay 110NIS for such an experiment). As for the wine itself, I thought it has nice structure and concentration, but the acidity was way too high to my taste.

As I said before - it's an interesting wine. I would buy the Rechasim merlot or cab and not the Argaman, but I think it's important that Segal is experimenting with the variety - and who knows? Perhaps future vintages would be much better.

Either way, you've got to respect Avi Feldstein for his guts (and vision) to plant the variety in possibly the best terroir he has.

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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:49 am

A noble experiment, I agree but perhaps worth keeping in mind one firm rule of winemakers - that to the effect that if you have to macerate your must on the skins of another varietal grape it only demonstrates that your own grape is in trouble. I'm sure there are those who will disagree with me on this.......Fair enough.

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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Mike_F » Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:12 am

Gary J wrote:I wonder why more people aren't as fascinated by this as I am. An indigenous Israeli varietal!!! Fermented on the skins of another varietal???!!! Cool stuff. Worth a try in my book!


In response to your query, another quote-

Daniel Rogov wrote:My estimate is that this is not a wine meant for cellaring, its elements never coming together fully and perhaps destined to collapse within the next year or two.


Please forgive me for not getting excited about an indigenous varietal that needs the support of a foreign varietal to generate something potable, and likely to collapse within 1-2 years. Speaking as an Israeli, the TN of this wine reads like an Iranian viewpoint of the Zionist enterprise. One hopes we can do better...

Mike
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Michael J » Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:05 am

Speaking of indigenous varietals, wouldn't it be fascinating if we could find some grape DNA from a couple thousand years ago when Israel was a major wine producer, and then use it to revive the strain? I recall reading a while back that fossilized dates were found in Israel and DNA extraction was successful, so maybe if we're lucky. That would be a real vairetal.
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:12 am

Michael, Hi.....

It would be fascinating to find one or more of the varieties that were used to make wine in Israel of 2000 years ago. To date, however, there has been no luck in tracing DNA found in various amphorae. More than that, considering the taste profiles written about for those earlly wines in various historical documents, there is a good chance that the grapes used for making wine "back then" might not be considered appropriate today. One never knows though, and perhaps one day......

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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Ehud W » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:15 pm

I tasted the Segal Argaman a few weeks ago and I thought it was a decent wine. Country style, yes, chunky on the tannins, indeed.
Next to the Argaman was the Rechasim Merlot, Merlot must on Merlot skins ( :) ), and that was a wine on a different level all together. The Argaman I tasted; the Merlot I drank.

Maybe the future for the Argaman is better than expected, maybe this is an important wine as someone suggested elsewhere, but I keep here some healthy scepticism, until proven otherwise.
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:27 pm

Ehud, Hi.....

If memory serves, we attended the same tasting. Indeed, several who have written have praised this wine and its potential highly. As you say though.....we shall wait and see. I have several more bottles at hand. They will be tasted over appropriate periods of time.

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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Yariv H » Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:46 am

This is one of your longest TN :-) well it seem that they did get you intrigued :-)
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:13 am

Yariv, Hi....

I realized that as I was formalizing the note. Not so much intrigued as feeling the need to be explanatory. Chuckling because I have received several IM's and emails telling me that a good many people on one of the local Israeli forums are confused as to "what Rogov has against Barkan". Debating on the wisdom of responding there....

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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Yoni M » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:19 am

Michael J wrote:Speaking of indigenous varietals, wouldn't it be fascinating if we could find some grape DNA from a couple thousand years ago when Israel was a major wine producer, and then use it to revive the strain? I recall reading a while back that fossilized dates were found in Israel and DNA extraction was successful, so maybe if we're lucky. That would be a real vairetal.


Hi Michael,

We had an informative discussion of your very point on the old forum. It is instructive, though, to keep in mind Professor Shoseyov's point from that thread:

We have to remember that even if one will succeed to revive a somatic embryo from an ancient seed, we will never know if the seed was taken from the vineyard of king Salomon or originated from raisins that were sent to a Roman soldier for his birthday by his mother from Naples…
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Michael J » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:50 am

That's a good point; I guess I hadn't thought of "invasions" of foreign species left behind by foreign powers. Either way, it seems unlikely to actually find such a remnant and as Rogov has mentioned it might not even be worthwhile if we did. So why not try something else - produce a new strain of grapes perfectly suited to the Israeli climate. Argaman it seems has been a failure (though who knows what the future will bring), but that doesn't mean the idea is one as well. Our skill and knowledge here in Israel have grown tremendously in the two required fields: winemaking and biotech. Why not a synthesis of these two fields for a more exact final product?

Just an idea
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:04 pm

Michael, Hi.....

I'm skeptical about the need for or the wisdom of developing a "new grape" and that for four reasons. For nearly forty years now people at the Volcani Institute, at the Hebrew University School of Agriculture and at other institutes have been working trowards that goal. The only grape that they have "devised" so far that has had any potential has been Argaman and that is being torn up in most places to make room for more noble grapes precisely because it has largely been considered a failure.

Second - the investment in time and money in devising the grape, planting experimental vineyards and then waiting until the vineyards came to some level of maturity would be huge. I wonder if that time and effort might not be better spent discovering which grapes are most suited to which specific terroirs within the country and which trellissing systems work best for various grapes in various locations.

A third reason is that this has something akin to giving the same advice to Californian or Australian vintners, for they, like we rely on the most noble varieties and see no reason to develop "their own" unique grape.

Third, let's say it could be done and we called the grape "Josephus". We have enough trouble selling the world our Cabernet, Merlot, , Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier. Imagine the problem we'ld have convincing them that "Josephus" was worth drinking. And, of course, there is always the danger that it might not be worth drinking.........

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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Lior Yogev » Sun Dec 07, 2008 1:10 pm

Being not as critical of the variety as Rogov, I must ask what I asked in the neighbouring forum: WHY?

What is good about Argaman?
We're all aware of the variety's intrinsic, objective shortcommings. What are the variety's [url]good[/url] qualities?

I'm all for experimenting with new varieties, but if Argaman's only good quality is the sound of "indeginous Israeli variety" attached to it - I don't think it justifies any excitement.

Re the wine in question: I didn't find it great but for my amateur taste it wasn't as bad as Rogov describes. Not something I'd buy (certainly not for that price!) - but surely something interesting that I'd like to keep track of, in tastings etc. I'm optimistic about future vintages and hope to see an improvement in quality.

As for re-inventing local varieties: There are 2.38 gazillion varieties in the world. I'm sure it's an easier task of finding one suitable to our climate than developing a new one. The industry is gradually advancing from the popular Bordeaux grapes to the Rhone( + Australia) and perhaps even spain (a handfull of new tempranillo and grenache wines, and the more established carignian), and other varieties such as PS and others.

My tw... four cents.

Lior.
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Sun Dec 07, 2008 1:23 pm

[quote="Lior Yogev"]What is good about Argaman? We're all aware of the variety's intrinsic, objective shortcommings. What are the variety's [url]good[/url] qualities?


Lior, Hi......

Precisely my problem. Other than the deep color, I find no positive traits to the variety. Proving more difficult to cultivate than originally thought, lacking body, tannins and flavor, my question is why continue? As I also pointed out in my comments, when you have to ferment the must of one grape on the skins of another it only demonstrates that your own grape is in deep trouble.

Honestly, I have nothing specifically against any grape. Sheesh, I even like Dabbuki and buy them as table grapes in the Carmel Market all the time. My issue comes only with the quality of the wine that grape is capable of producing.

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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Loweeel » Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:52 pm

Lior Yogev wrote:... and perhaps even spain (a handfull of new tempranillo and grenache wines, and the more established carignian), and other varieties such as PS and others.


Speaking of which, I had a Dehesa de Rubiales Prieto Picudo a few months ago ($14) that absolutely blew me away. Rogov, have you ever had any wines made from this grape? If so, could you post some sample notes and your take on the grape?
http://PSychospath.com -- The PSychos' Path: the long road to being crazy about Petite Sirah
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:35 pm

The Prieto Picudo grape, found mostly in Castilla-Leon is increasing in popularity and despite modern times, many of those go by the name of "clarete", that probably bcause it produces wines that although quite aromatic are somewhat light in color and often somewhat one dimensional. Whatever, following are several of my tasting notes that came easily to hand.

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Bodegas Fernandez Llamazares, Tinto Pajares, Prieto Picudo, Vino de la Tierra, Castilla y Leon, 2003: Light ruby red, medium-bodied, with firm tannins just now starting to integrate. Opens to show sour cherry and raspberry notes, those with somewhat bubble-gum appearance, and complemented by notes of cigar box cedar wood. Drink now-2009. Score 86. (Tasted 9 May 2006)

Domino Dostares, Prieto Picudo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, 2005: Medium-bodied, light ruby towards garnet in color, with soft, gently caressing tannins and a generous mineral overlay that parts to revel blackberries, lead pencil and vanilla notes. On the long finish a not wanted note of balsamic vinegar rises. Drink now-2010. Score 87. (Tasted but not blind 13 Apr 2007)

Rafael Alonso, Prieto Picudo, Pardevalles Gamonal, Tierra de Leon, 2005: Medium- to full-bodied, with firm tannins waiting to settle down and opening slowly at this stage to reveal cherry, red berry and citrus peel notes. An appealing country-style wine. Needs food. Best 2009-2012. Score 87. (Tasted but not blind 13 Apr 2007)
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Re: WTN: Segal's Single Vineyard Argaman (K)

by Daniel Rogov » Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:24 pm

Keep in mind that not everyone agrees with my evaluation of the new Argaman wine. Ronen Permuter wrote that "Perhaps a chance to finaly define an Israeli wine" and Dany Rubin wrote that the wine "...is worth every agora". Those who are going to be in the area of Rosh Pina tomorrow (10December) will have a chance to both taste the new Segal Argaman and to talke with winemaker Avi Feldstein.

The Wine Bar at Pina BaRosh (Rehov HaChalutzim 8, Old Rosh Pina) will be hosting an evening with Avi Feldstein, the evening scheduled to start at 20:00. To reserve a place at the event phone 04 6936582

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Rogov

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