Bustan: Moving from Four Stars to Five (K)

By: d

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?By: d

While it is true that the occasional surprise (e.g. a wine from a variety new to Israel, a new and unique blend or a very special release) is pleasant to encounter, there are few things more rewarding to either the critic or the wine lover than encountering and re-encountering over and over again wines that offer no surprises whatever except perhaps their continued excellence.

Bustan is such a winery and since he released his first wines in 1994 I look forward to that time every year when Ya’akov Fogler phones and then meets me for a few minutes to bring me a sample bottle of his wines of the new vintage. The simple truth of the matter is that his wines have always given me pause for both thought and pleasure. As I look over my tasting notes over the years, not one of Fogler’s wines has earned less than 90 points. More important, every wine has given me a great deal of pleasure, the wines invariably full-bodied but never blockbusters, the tannins invariably softening in the glass, the wood invariably with just a hint of smoke and spices and the fruits coming nicely to the fore and then lingering gently on the palate.

Several days ago I received Bustan’s latest releases, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot of 2006 and the Shiraz of 2007. What can I say other than that in my 2012 books, this microwinery, located on Moshav Shari Tikva in the Shomron region will join the limited rank of those wineries earning five stars. The winery, drawing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes from the Judean Mountains, produces about 3,000 bottles annually. The winery has earned a good name for its distinctly French-style wines, which have had a formal kashrut certificate since 1999.

My tasting notes follow. My thanks to Ya’akov Fogler for coming to Tel Aviv to meet with me and give me the samples. Best bet for making purchases is to contact the winery by email at bustanwinery@yahoo.com or by telephone at 054 4892757.

Bustan, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006: Deep garnet in color, a dense, rich and concentrated wine, reflecting its 22 months in oak with full-body and firm tannins that seem almost to melt in the mouth. On the nose and palate currants, sage and mineral aromas and flavors, those unfolding in the glass to reveal tantalizing hints of anise and earthy minerals. As a food match, consider the best roast of beef you can find. Drink now-2018. Score 93. K (Tasted 26 Jan 2011)

Bustan, Merlot, 2006: A luxuriant and rich wine, dark garnet towards royal purple in color, reflecting its 22 months in oak with notes of vanilla, cinnamon and soft, supple tannins that caress rather than “grab”. On the nose and palate a generous array of plums, black cherries, currants, mocha and toasty oak, all lingering comfortably on a remarkably long finish on which tannins and spices rise nicely. A supple and generous wine, perhaps best matched with large or small cuts of lamb or mutton. Drink now-2016. Score 93. K (Tasted 26 Jan 2011)

Bustan, Shiraz, 2007: A bold and rich full-bodied wine, the opening nose catching the attention with notes of blueberries and bacon, opening in the glass to reveal layer after layer of blueberries, black cherries, raspberries and plums Oak-aged for 18 months, with soft tannins and Asian spices and a finish that seems to go on forever. Supple and generous. Drink now-2016. Score 92. K (Tasted 26 Jan 2011)

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