Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.

Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Michael J » Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:58 am

I;ve only had the Recanati, which was encouraging enough to pursue the varietal. As of now I've also purchased a Carmel and Tanya for the sake of comparison, but I agree that it seems that Cab Franc has a promising future here.
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:38 am

Mike, Hi....

A quick search shows that imported wines available in Israel are either rose wines based on Cabernet Franc or use Cabernet Franc as a blending agent .... did not find a single varietal Cabernet Franc. Best might be to phone Marcello at the Tel Aviv branch of Derekh HaYain.

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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Mike_F » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:50 pm

Oh well... . thanks Rogov,

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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Eli R » Sat Apr 25, 2009 4:36 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Mike, Hi....

A quick search shows that imported wines available in Israel are either rose wines based on Cabernet Franc or use Cabernet Franc as a blending agent .... did not find a single varietal Cabernet Franc. Best might be to phone Marcello at the Tel Aviv branch of Derekh HaYain.

Best
Rogov



Well, as I am intereted in this kind of tasting I searched the web and found two wines that could be candidates:

Guy Saget Chinon, 100% CF, 75 NIS, listed at 10 US$ on the net

Guy Saget Saumur Champigny, 100% CF, 90 NIS (on sale), 15 $US on the net.
This one is described as a full body, 8 year cellaring potential wine.
- not sure with wine will pass the minimum 89 score qualification.

Both wines appear in the winedepot web site. I am not sure which vintage is available.
The wines are from the Loire Valley. The importer is the Scottish Company.
Any WTN on those?

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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:22 pm

Eli, Hi....

Good detective work! Like you, I noted that the WineDepot site does not list vintage years for these wines. Whatever, following are my tasting notes from fairly recent releases. Best bet will be to phone the Scottish company and talk with Galia at 03 5462414 or 03 5434538 (not sure which phone is current)

Best
Rogov

Guy Saget, Chinon, Loire, 2006: Made entirely from Cabernet Franc grapes. Dark cherry red, medium-bodied, with silky tannins and showing fresh cherry and currant fruits on a background of freshly cut herbs and green olives. On the finish notes of toasty oak and garrigue. Drink now-2010. Score 87. (Tasted 14 May 2008)

Guy Saget, Saumuur-Champigny, Loire, 2006: Medium bodied, with gently gripping tannins and a generous black cherry and berry fruits, those complemented nicely by notes of spring flowers and tobacco. Firms up on the finish. Drink now-2010. Score 86. (Tasted 14 May 2008)
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:47 am

Important to note.....I just spoke briefly with Victor Shoenfeld, the senior winemaker at the Golan Heights Winery (and in my opinion the most singularly talented winemaker in the country) and Victor feels that I may be off on an incorrect hypothesis here. His feeling is that Cabernet Franc is not so much suited to either the Golan or the Galilee except as a blending agent in Bordeaux style blends and that in Israel it may show "too green". He also reflects the feeling that Cabernet Franc may not demonstrate the depth and breadth that other grapes can attain in Israel.

I'll be on the Golan next Monday (4 May). The discussion will continue.

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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Michael J » Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:12 pm

What about the judean hills area?
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Apr 26, 2009 3:05 pm

Michael J wrote:What about the judean hills area?



Cause for further discussions with Victor and other winemakers. Not a decision to make on one's own as a critic but to rely on input from winemakers and grapegrowers.


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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Gil S » Sun Apr 26, 2009 3:55 pm

A few thoughts about CF in Israel. To begin with I think that Cabernet Franc in general in an aquired taste, and...some people would like the "green" note that is part of the varietal character, and some not. I have to admit that I have limited experience with this varaiety, and thus far I enjoy working with it and to explore its potential. I have to agree with Victor that in most of the vineyard I work with in the upper Galilee, green note is inevitable. viticulturewise the vines behaves very well in our climate, they do require though crop control (the vine can be very vigurous), but over all they have no problem to ripe and generally speaking they have good color. But I think that the biggest chalange for us winemakers is to find the best barrels program for this wine...Ido said that he enjoy following the progress of CF in Israel...me too
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Harry J » Sun Apr 26, 2009 4:50 pm

Bsd. Hi Gil;so nice to hear (again) from someone from Recanati.If we can venture off topic(as I often do) a question about recanati merlot 07;having had it and enjoyed it more than once,I find it more dry than any merlot I've had.Any comment?h
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Gil S » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:28 pm

Hi Harry
The 07 Merlot recanati ment to be easy to drink - don't hold too long - kind of wine. Yet we try to stay within the varaietal character, I think the wine is approachable and easy to drink.
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Ido GalOn » Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:44 am

Hey Gil,

I do think that you are correct and I do understand Victor as well. CF is a green grape and too many Israeli wines makers in afraid to fall into the category of making "green wines". Cause of that we getting wines that sometimes has too much fruit in a jammy way, with too much sugar and the grapes that creates a high percentage of alcohol in the wine. But I can't complain too much cause it is a warm country and the sun is the major factor for that type of wines.

On the other side, many Israeli wines do have a green character as part of the region identity and by region I mean Israel as a country not north, center or south. And back to the CF, the main word is balance and it isn't just for CF it is for every wine that we want to drink or drinking. To make it I am sure the winemakers knows about it more than me, but the basic idea is to balance between the green character to the fruit in the CF grapes. That brings me back to Victor from the Golan Heights winery that says the CF in the north can't stand as a wine by itself. I have to agree with him cause he is the winemaker of the winery and I am pretty sure he tested the CF along the years in his winery and for NOW it can't stand on his own as a wine in the Golan Heights.

It brings me to the third stage of what happening to the grapes as years go by. Few years ago we never heard about Ortal and El-Rom and now they are famous not just cause the wines are good, cause the vines made the real change, grew older and in the winery they noticed the change. So if the CF vines will improve in the next years like what happened to the El-Rom and Ortal they may be able to stand alone. And we must remember it is a personal taste, and if Victor feels that to his palate it ain't enough we can't argue about that. Maybe in a few years the vines will give better grapes as we all know about wines it is all about waiting ...
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby RShaffer » Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:37 pm

I think Israeli Cab Franc has serious Home Run potential!

I am enjoying Cab Franc from there and import 2 of the wines on your list into the US.

The Margalit Cab Franc 2005 and (now preparing to ship) the Pelter T-Selection Cab Franc.

I like what I can only describe as the roundedness and Mediterranean spice in an Israeli Cab Franc.

It's more gently green to me - which I like.

In fact, the chef is pairing the Margalit Cab Franc 2005 with a fish dish for an Israeli Wine + Food event I am presenting at in Philly May 14th at Zahav Restaurant.

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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby David Raccah » Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:04 pm

Welcome Gil to the forum,

Lewis was a long time poster to the old forum, and I hope to see you and others from Recanati in the future. Now on to the show... I must disagree with many of the people who dislike green and floral. I guess this "issue" started with RP and has spread out like the swine flu. Really, green is green, because that is what the fruit gives you in Israel. Does that mean that green is really a flaw - I guess that is the ultimate question!

RP feels it is, proof is that he commented to many wineries in Israel saying - the wines were too green. That is crazy! That is like saying a Porsche is too expensive - sure it is expensive, you get what you pay for! The grapes are the grapes. Does RP and others want you to modify the wine to make it less green? Does he also want to remove the floral ascpects as well?

I guess it comes down to - does a green wine have flaws? What are the gradations of flaw based upon the amount of green present? Can Ortal be somewhat dinged because it has green or vegetal notes in it?

As always,
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby David Raccah » Wed Jul 01, 2009 2:35 am

Well I wanted to follow up on this thread with the wine tasting we had at the house a couple of weeks ago. The complete blow for blow can be found at my blog: http://kosherwinemusings.com/2009/06/19/kalamata-olive-and-white-bean-soup-beef-bourguignon-zemora-cabernet-franc-gush-etzion-cabernet-franc-ella-valley-cabernet-franc-and-a-four-gates-specialty-blend/. I want to thank Daniel for a few things:

1) His book that pointed out the real grapes in the wine (some were blended with Merlot)
2) His ever poignant opinion of Zemora, which made me move faster on drinking it and enjoying it, for that reason I am sure
3) His care for a grape that I am growing in love with more and more

These are the wines tasted in the order they are listed here:

2005 Zemora Cabernet Franc – Score: B++
There are many who slam this bottle and winery, but my experience was a very pleasant and chocolaty wine. The nose on this bright garnet colored wine screams with chocolate upon opening and slowly calms down as it sits in the glass. The chocolate is complemented with nice floral fragrances, slight heat upon opening, rich plum, rich oak, and hints of vegetal aromas. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine was rich and mouth coating with creamy oak, plum, and cranberry. The mid palate is busy with balanced acidity, and light and integrated tannins. The finish is long with chocolate, plum, sweet oak, and a touch of acidity to round out the package. This was a nice showing for the wine. I am happy I enjoyed it as there is none of this stuff in America anyway.

2005 Gush Etzion Cabernet Franc
– Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine was busy with blackberry, plum, chocolate, and oak. The mouth on this medium bodied wine was not very Franc like, with strong red and black fruit, and some nice oak flavors. The mid palate was braced with nice tannins and acidity, though not quite balanced. The finish is medium long with more oak, black fruit, chocolate, and a hint of vegetal flavors. Some on the table liked this more, but I think it was more Cabernet than it was franc.

2004 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc – Score: A-
This is another hit for this rock star winery that continues to impress. The nose on this dark garnet colored wine is layered with earth, raspberry, floral notes, oak, and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine fills out as the wine sits in the glass. Actually, the wine was awesome the next day, so air will not hurt this beast. The mouth cleaned up nicely with rich plum, raspberry, and pencil shavings. The mid palate was soft with well integrated tannins, and slight acidity to balance out the wine. The finish was busy and spicy with tobacco, rich oak, and raspberry fruit. This was a nice showing for the wine.

2005 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc (88% Cabernet Franc and 12% Merlot) – Score: A
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine was hot out of the bottle, but was soon jumping with blackberry, cranberry, raspberry, sweet oak, and a nice amount of vegetal aromas. The mouth on this medium bodied wine filled out as it got more air. The mouth on this medium bodied is layered with rich oak, cranberry, blackberry, plum, and tannins that calm down as the wine sits in the glass. The mid palate is balanced with a rich mouth, just enough acidity, and not yet integrated tannins. The finish is long and luxurious with a playful amount of spice and chocolate that is joined in by rich fruit. This was the winner of our Cabernet Franc lineup for sure, and a home run for this wonderful winery.

2006 Ella Valley Cabernet Franc (95% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot)
– Score: A-
The nose on this garnet colored wine was hopping with dirt, tobacco, raspberry, plum, oak, and spice. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine starts with an attack of gripping tannins, but follows with a full mouth raspberry and plum. The mid palate follows the mouth with more dirt, tobacco, oak, and tannins that are starting to balance with nice acidity. The finish is nice and long with spicy oak, tobacco, and red fruit. Once the wine had enough air, the mouth fills out and the tannins die down below a wonderful floor of rich fruit and tobacco. Another nice showing for the winery.

Four Gates Cabernet Franc and Merlot Blend (roughly 50/50) – Score: A
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is hopping with sweet oak, rich plum, raspberry, vegetal aromas, tobacco, and bit of dark chocolate. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered and complex with Chicken Cherry Cola, dark plum, and sweet oak. The mid palate flows from the mouth with more fruit, bright acidity, oak, and vegetal notes. The finish is long with dark chocolate, tobacco, and more fruit. Quite a nice wine that lingers long in your mouth after the wine is gone.
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Elie Poltorak » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:19 pm

So David pointed me to this thread in a discussion on Facebook. 3 years later, what do you think? Was Rogov correct? Is CF shaping up to be "The Israeli Varietal"?
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Gabriel Geller » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:26 pm

As to me I'm still not convinced. A few wineries make indeed great Cabernet Franc wines with a consistent winner by Ella Valley, Psagot are also doing a great job, Tanya is worthy of following up, a surprisingly excellent effort by Ventura with his 2009 vintage and a tremendous improvement by Gush Etzion (still not so varietally true IMHO) since the 2007 and a mind-blowing 2008 that is ranking high in my best wines list for 2012.

Nowadays Israeli wineries, both the large and smaller operations, seem to be shifting towards varietal wines from more exotic varieties (Mourverdre, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Carignan) and Mediterranean blends (GHW, Netofa, Carmel, Dalton, Barkan, Recanati, Shiloh, Galil Mountains, Arza).

I've tasted last week some surprisingly good wines by Arza in its new Tel Arza series: a mediterranean blend (Shiraz/Petit Verdot/Carignan as well as a varietal Petit Verdot) and while not great, these wines do provide more than a decent value for the price and almost deserving of an award for enabling people to get introduced to different and interesting varieties without having to break out their bank account. I'm planning on retasting the Malbec (Tel Arza 2010) tomorrow and will post my thoughts here afterwards.

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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby David Raccah » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:53 pm

Again - we need to make clear that what we are talking about here are not wines that are fun, QPR solid, enjoyable, or the such - that does NOT define a varietal for a country. What we are talking about is a varietal that is rethought, re-imagined, and totally different, and for the better, than the previous standard-bearer.

So, for now that does not exist :( Yes, I love CF and love the options we have in Israel. That does not reimagine the varietal - sorry. The latest edition of WS had 9 CF wines for under 25 bucks from France (the Standard bearer) and Napa and all were scored above 91 and all were less than 30 bucks. We are still far from there.

The real highest scoring and killer wines that all the world agrees on, are Cabernet and maybe Israel is starting to get more out of Syrah and its blends. Time will tell, but they are no Australia (re-imagining Shiraz for the better) or Argentina (Malbec), or Napa (Cabernet), etc.

The world is still not smitten by anything that Israel makes - in the entire set. Sure, there are a few nice single point hits - but overarching success and redefinition of a varietal - has still alluded Israel.

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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Elie Poltorak » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:20 pm

David Raccah wrote:Again - we need to make clear that what we are talking about here are not wines that are fun, QPR solid, enjoyable, or the such - that does NOT define a varietal for a country. What we are talking about is a varietal that is rethought, re-imagined, and totally different, and for the better, than the previous standard-bearer.

So, for now that does not exist :( Yes, I love CF and love the options we have in Israel. That does not reimagine the varietal - sorry. The latest edition of WS had 9 CF wines for under 25 bucks from France (the Standard bearer) and Napa and all were scored above 91 and all were less than 30 bucks. We are still far from there.

The real highest scoring and killer wines that all the world agrees on, are Cabernet and maybe Israel is starting to get more out of Syrah and its blends. Time will tell, but they are no Australia (re-imagining Shiraz for the better) or Argentina (Malbec), or Napa (Cabernet), etc.

The world is still not smitten by anything that Israel makes - in the entire set. Sure, there are a few nice single point hits - but overarching success and redefinition of a varietal - has still alluded Israel.

David


David:
No one would argue with your contention that it hasn't happened yet, but the question is whether CF is the best contender to do so in the future?
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Gabriel Geller » Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:07 am

David: I was referring to the Arza just to point out an other israeli winery making good wines with Malbec, Petit Verdot etc as well as a Mediterranean blend, the fact that these wines might be or not QPR has indeed nothing to do with the main topic of this thread.

Elie: No. In my opinion, given the attention and the efforts paid by the Israeli wineries over the past 3-4 years, not even a single player here seem to be highlighting Cabernet Franc as the possible future "signature" variety of Israel. And the same goes also with Carignan or Petite Sirah. A few wineries are making very good to excellent wines with these varieties but no one seems to be trying in pushing up to the top of the podium any of these varieties. Carmel, Recanati, Yaffo and Vitkin (not kosher but given their reputation and what I've read and been told, their Carignan is also excellent) make interesting wines with Carignan and Petite Sirah but whether or not they want to really change the wine World's perception with these wines remain unclear to say the least.

My conclusion: The Israeli wineries aren't trying to stand out with a variety in particular but instead might well be pushing a new kind of Mediterranean blends to achieve worldwide recognition: (Carmel Mediterranean, Galil Meron, Shiloh Legend, Barkan Tzafit, GHW 2T and T2, Arza Mediterranean, Dalton Alma SMV, Netofa Domaine/Latour and Tinto, Recanati "Mediterranean Series"...).

A new world coutry with an old world approach... 8)
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby Isaac Chavel » Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:15 am

I apologize for being late for the resuscitation of this thread; I hope I show up on time for the great one at the end of time. :)

I agree with the existing evaluation of Israeli wines as not yet having produced a signature wine, say, as David mentioned, in the sense that Australia re-imagined Syrah/Shiraz. Although one might ask whether the green character of Israeli Cabernet qualifies as a re-imagination --- independent of whether Mark Squires (?) likes it or not.

But I would say that considering how young the wine industry is (that is, for serious wines), it is unrealistic to look for such a standard. At this stage of the industry's development, the issue is more about garnering lots of varied experience of what succeeds in Israel's vineyards, what does not, and what is the true potential of Israeli vineyards. In this sense, this an exciting period for Israeli wines, now that we have moved beyond the usual suspects --- Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. I still remember when it was news that Israel produced good Sauvignon Blanc (my not being a fan of the buttery Chardonnay that was the rage back then). Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Rhone/Mediterannean style blends? Bring 'em on!
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby lewis.pasco » Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:24 pm

History lesson: once upon a time in a far off land, I presented a varietal Israeli Cabernet Franc to someone who should know a few things, even a lot, about good wine. I presented this CF among a very strong line-up of Israeli wines, from excellent vintages.

The "critic", while professing a strong interest to taste each of the wines presented (before and then during a gracious lunch at his own home), balked at the Cab Franc.
"I have to warn you", he told me, "I just don't care for Cab Franc very much. It's not to my taste."
"Have you tried the great Cab Francs of the Loire Valley by producers like Charles Jouget?" I asked. "Or Cab Francs fom the Sierra Foothills in CA? They are often better than Foothills Cabernet Sauvignons, IMO."
"I just don't like Cab Franc."

At this point, I should add that this "critic" was also a winemaker, in Napa Valley. Where quite honestly Cab Franc rarely measures up to the great Cab Sauvs and Merlots of the local terroir. But the mountains are something different in Ca - even the Mayacamas mountain range between Sonoma and Napa Valleys produces CFs that are a breed apart and rival their more famous brother varieties. And the wine I presented him was a high elevation CF.

Finally the critic tasted the wine and acknowledged it "wasn't bad."

The formal tasting finished, and we dug into a 3 course lunch, soup, salad, and chicken. And as we leisurely ate and chatted grapes and wine, the critic went back, more than once, to refill and re-sip his glass of Cabernet Franc. Disproportionately so. He noted that it was too bad his wife hadn't stayed to eat with us. He valued her opinion highly. I suggested that from the 7 or 8 wines we'd tasted, I would leave 3 of them, 2 reds and the Chardonnay (his wife was an avowed Chard fan) for tasting with his wife again over dinner. He chose the top of the line Bordeaux Blend and, almost tentatively, said he'd also like to have the Cab Franc too for the evening.

The next morning I received and email from the critic with an almost effusive apology for his initial resistance to the CF. He said it was his and his wife's favorite wine that evening. He also noted that it illustrated one of the worst dilemmas that wine critics face: how their preconceived prejudices, combined with the very short time frames they can allot to tasting any ONE wine, can lead to tasting notes, published tasting notes, which are grossly unfair. He ultimately judged it as a type of wine, like many of the very best wines, that can ONLY be judged over an extended "tasting" (ie drinking) with a meal. He loved the wine.

We are still just scratching the surface of what we can ultimately do here in Israel with winemaking; Cabernet Franc is one of those varieties that lives beneath the surface.
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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby David Raccah » Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:07 pm

Lewis it is truly great to have another wine maker in the midst, it has been too long a parting between the forum and you, and I say this as the story is yet another example of how much people and professionals can add to a forum.

A quick question - if I may, I will not ask who the critic is (though I have a VERY strong feeling I know who it is), what Franc did you leave him and her?

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Re: Cabernet Franc: A Good Bet for Israel's Future?

Postby lewis.pasco » Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:42 pm

My dear David,

I start with this: I have returned for 3 reasons: 1 - to promote my own venture, 2 - in the hope that my presence here will stimulate more conversation re Israeli wines and kosher wines in general, and 3 - that I hope altruistically that I can achieve a mission of teaching those who read and participate here more about appreciating fine wines. While reasons #2 and #3 might provoke me to reveal the name of the wine and even the name of the critic, I cannot with a bald face give the name of the wine without in some ways potentially harming reason #1. Furthermore, if you have guessed the "name" of the wine I beseech you to keep that to yourself, because you might scare me off posting again.

It's really, really important to me that we don't go down this road. Or "go down there" as they used to say on Seinfeld...

Now if you should happen to have a bottle of this wine, and decide to open it and talk about it, I would be thrilled. But don't expect me to confirm it!

OK?
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