On a fairly regular basis people discuss the various grapes that may prove most appropriate to Israel's various climates and soils. One of the grapes that is invariably mentioned (as it was on another thread but I am reposting here in order that it may start a discussion) is Cabernet Franc. Indeed, Cabernet Franc has been producing some splendid rose wines locally and indeed it is an important blending agent for may of the country's very best wines. Some feel that the grape will not do well here in producing a varietal wine.
I may be in a distinct minority but I beg to disagree, wondering in fact whether Cabernet Franc will not become to Israel as Malbec has to Argentina, as Sauvignon Blanc has to New Zealand and, as a more classic example, as Sangiovese has to Italy.
I cannot help but think that the wines reviewed below support my hypothesis…. As always, agreement or disagreement are equally invited and welcome.
Amphorae, Cabernet Franc, 2004: Deep garnet with bright raspberry and plum flavors, this dark, rich and plush wine shows thick, earthy tannins and gamy currant and cedarwood aromas and flavors. Perhaps not elegant but certainly powerful and complex. Drink now–2012. Score 90.
Ben Hanna, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Medium to full-bodied, with velvety smooth tannins and appealing floral-scented plum, blueberry and currant fruits on a gentle background of spicy wood and just the barest hint of Brett to add charm. Drink from release–2011. Tentative Score 89–91.
Ben Hanna, Cabernet Franc, La Mariée, 2005: Broad, dense and concentrated, yet caressing and not at all heavy. Opens with generous raspberries and dried currants highlighted by gentle black and red chili peppers. Moves on to plum and floral aromas and flavors with soft tannins rising on the long, spicy and fruit-rich finish. Best yet from the winery. Best 2008–2011. Score 91.
Carmel, Regional, Cabernet Franc, Upper Galilee, 2007: With grapes from the Netua and Alma vineyards in the Upper Galilee, developed for 10 months in oak, some new and some used. Blended with 8% of Petit Verdot and 7% Malbec, a medium- to full-bodied, deep garnet wine showing soft tannins and gentle spicy oak influences integrating nicely and opening to show red fruits and vanilla as well as a clear cigar box note. Drink now-2012. Score 90. K
Royal Reserve, Cabernet Franc, 2007: This could be a textbook Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, especially when one considers the area of Chinon. Smooth and velvety, with plenty of tannins, but those soft and gently mouth-coating and opening to show black cherry, currant, blueberry and tobacco notes, those complemented by hints of tobacco. As this one develops look for hints of green olives and briar. Drink from release–2013. Tentative Score 90–92.
Royal Reserve, Cabernet Franc, 2005: Subtle and seductive, with generous tannins integrating nicely. On the nose and palate fresh currant, dark berry and black cherry fruits matched nicely by bell peppers, cigar box and lead pencil notes. Good length, depth and a distinct note of elegance. Drink now–2011. Score 90.
Royal Reserve, Cabernet Franc, Limited Edition, 2003: Full-bodied, earthy and aromatic with an appealing array of currant, plum and wild berry fruits, those backed up nicely by vanilla and spices from the oak as well as an appealing hint of earthiness on the moderately long finish. Rich and concentrated. Drink now. Score 90.
Ella Valley Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, 2007: Blended with 5% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, dark royal purple, medium- to full-bodied with softly caressing tannins. Opens with a distinct veggie Cabernet Franc note, that yielding comfortably to cherry, blackberry, licorice and citrus peel on the long and generous finish. Drink now-2013. Score 90. K
Ella Valley Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Blended with 3% each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, dark, dark-garnet in color, medium to full-bodied, deeply aromatic and showing a generous array of blackberry, black cherry and currant notes. Long, round, rich and mouth-filling. Drink now–2012. Score 92. K
Ella Valley Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, 2005: Blended with 12% of Merlot, oak-aged for 15 months, this dark garnet, medium to full-bodied wine shows appealing vegetal aromas on first attack, those parting to reveal gently spicy cedarwood, raspberries, blackberries, red currants and generous hints of herbaceousness and white chocolate that come in on the long, well-balanced finish. Drink now–2011. Score 91. K
Ella Valley Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, 2004: Intensely dark royal purple, opens with a somewhat funky and loamy nose but that passes quickly and reveals a medium- to full-bodied wine, on the showing appealing red fruits, those supported nicely by notes of vanilla and cinnamon. From mid-palate on notes of cigar box and traditional Cabernet Franc veggie notes. Long and generous. Drink now-2011. Score 91. K
Gvaot, Cabernet Franc, Gofna Reserve, 2007: As predicted at an early tasting. the best yet from this winery. Medium- to full-bodied, opening with notes of freshly turned earth and loam, those opening to reveal black and blue berries along with spicy and toasty oak notes. Firm tannins but with fine balance and structure, a simultaneously muscular and elegant wine. Drink now-2012. Score 90. K
Margalit, Cabernet Franc, 2007: Still a baby and because of that not yet showing its full charms but with already revealing remarkable promise. Full-bodied, with gently mouth-coating tannins, opens to reveal traditional Cabernet Franc "greenness", that yielding comfortably to blackberry, blueberry and cassis fruits, those complemented by notes of sweet peppers, green olives and an appealing note of garrigue. Give this one time to show its elegance. Best 2011-2018, perhaps longer. Score 93.
Margalit, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Dark garnet toward royal-purple, medium to full-bodied. Blended with 5% of Cabernet Sauvignon and showing rich black currant, cherry and blackberry fruits matched nicely by floral and light earthy aromas and flavors, all coming to a long, round and caressing finish. Drink now–2015. Score 92.
Margalit, Cabernet Franc, 2005: Dark cherry toward garnet and full-bodied, this round and polished wine shows abundant blackberry, currant and black cherry fruits, those matched nicely by hints of spices and cedarwood, all leading to a long, generously tannic finish. Elegant and faithful to the variety. Drink now–2013. Score 92.
Margalit, Cabernet Franc, 2004: Deeply fragrant, this full-bodied wine was blended with 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Silky-smooth tannins, black and red fruits, hints of tobacco and chocolate come together on a long, mouth-filling finish with an appealing hint of freshly turned earth. Drink now–2011. Score 90.
Margalit, Cabernet Franc, 2003: Almost impenetrable deep purple, full-bodied, with excellent balance between soft, luxurious tannins and a tempting array of dark plum, wild berry and herbal aromas and flavors. Oak-aged, with the addition of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is mouth-filling and long, showing a tantalizing hint of mint on the finish. Drink now–2012. Score 90.
Pelter, T-Selection, Cabernet Franc, 2007: Medium- to full-bodied, showing generous but not overpowering oak and firm chewy tannins that need time to settle in. On the nose and palate blueberries, raspberries and fresh herbs and, in the background an appealing floral note. Long and generous. Best 2011-2014. Score 92.
Pelter, T-Selection, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Ruby toward royal-purple in color, full-bodied, with silky tannins and a gentle hand with the oak. Showing gorgeous plum, blackberry and floral aromas and flavors on a background of sweet spices and, coming in on the finish, a tempting hint of semi-sweet chocolate. Long and generous. Drink now–2012. Score 92.
Pelter, T-Selection, Cabernet Franc, 2005: This full-bodied wine reflects its 14 months in new French oak with spicy wood and mouth-coating tannins, both integrating nicely. A generous array of black fruits on first attack, those opening to reveal overlays of fresh Mediterranean herbs, and finally, on the long finish, espresso coffee, dark chocolate and the barest but tantalizing hint of crushed raspberries. Drink now–2013. Score 92.
Pelter, T-Selection, Cabernet Franc, 2004: Deep, almost impenetrable in color, lush and elegant with a rich array of ripe raspberry, cassis and berry fruits, those matched nicely by herbal and bittersweet chocolate aromas and flavors. Firm tannins, especially on the finish, but with just the right levels of French oak influence and both balance and structure that bode well for the future. Drink now–2012. Score 91.
Pelter, T-Selection, Cabernet Franc, 2003: Oak-aged for 14 months in new French barriques. Smooth, rich and supple, with ripe plum, currant and berry fruits together with an array of mocha, tobacco and espresso coffee, all complemented nicely by a hint of vanilla-scented oak. Tannins and fruits rise on the finish. Showing its elegance nicely. Drink now–2012. Score 90.
Psagot, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Medium-dark ruby toward garnet in color, medium-bodied, with soft, gently caressing tannins and appealing spicy oak. Showing appealing red currant and raspberry fruits on a background of earthy minerals and herbs and saddle leather. Drink now-2010.. Score 88. K
Recanati, Reserve, Cabernet Franc, 2006: With its once-firm tannins now integrating nicely, showing medium-dark garnet, full-bodied, and reflecting its 14 months in oak with generous but not imposing sweet cedar. Dark berry, black cherry and plum fruits highlighted by notes of tobacco, bell peppers and bittersweet chocolate, all lingering nicely on the finish. Drink now–2012. Score 91. K
Tanya, Halel, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Made entirely from Cabernet Franc grapes, developed in barriques for 14 months, dark, almost impenetrable garnet in color, a medium- to full-bodied, softly tannic wine. On first attack notes of plums, tar and bittersweet chocolate, those yielding to aromas and flavors of blackcurrants and espresso coffee, all with a comfortable overlay of black pepper. Long and generous. Drink now-2012. Score 90. K
Tishbi, Estate, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Dark garnet in color, full-bodied and with chewy tannins, a well focused wine, its spicy (almost peppery) wood settling down nicely to show a fine array of currant and blackberry fruits, those with an appealing leathery overtone. Long and satisfying. Best 2009-2012. Score 89. K
Tulip, Mostly, Cabernet Franc, 2006: A blend of 86% Cabernet Franc and 7% each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Showing spicy oak and firm tannins now integrating well. Opens to show red and black berries, green pepper and earthy aromas and flavors. On the moderately long finish appealing hints of licorice and mint. Drink now–2012. Score 88.
Vitkin, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Ripe and polished, a blend of 86% Cabernet Franc and 14% Petit Verdot. Aged in new French oak for 15 months and showing gentle near-sweet cedar notes along with soft tannins that are integrating nicely. On the nose and palate currants and black cherries, those parting to reveal notes of toasted white bread, figs and tobacco. On the long and mouth-filling finish floral and mocha hints. Drink now–2013. Score 91.
Vitkin, Cabernet Franc, 2005: Deep garnet toward royal-purple, oak-aged for 16 months and blended with 12% Petit Verdot, the wine offers up generous tannins integrating nicely with the wood. Already showing an abundant array of spicy black cherries and currants, those with overtones of Madagascar green peppercorns, herbs and smoked meat. Long and satisfying. Drink now–2011. Score 90.
Vitkin, Cabernet Franc, 2004: Deep, almost impenetrable royal-purple in color, this blend of 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot shows fine balance between wood, moderately firm tannins and vegetal-fruity characteristics. On first attack pepper and spicy wood, that followed by black currants, plum and blackberry fruits, all supported by hints of cloves, Oriental spices and, on the long and mouth-filling finish, Mediterranean herbs. Drink now–2011. Score 90.
Yatir, Cabernet Franc, 2006: Deep royal-purple, full-bodied, and showing faithful to the variety with complex black cherry, blackberry and cassis fruits accented by spices, cedarwood, coffee and hints of tar and vanilla. Drink now–2011. Score 90. K