?By: Daniel Rogov
It’s that time of the year again when I start making my rounds of many of the local wineries in order to broad tastings for the next edition of my book. Hard work but great fun. Yesterday (Monday, 8 Dec 2008), I visited the Recanati winery, there to do advance and barrel tastings of various wines of the 2007, 2007 and 2008 vintages.
Established in 2000, this modern winery located in the Hefer Valley in the north part of the Sharon region relies on grapes from their own as well as contract vineyards, primarily in the Upper Galilee. With talented winemaker Gil Shatzberg now fully settled in and clearly placing his imprint on the wines it is clear that the wines are going from very good to even better, showing a moderate hand with oak, the partial use of carbonic maceration in order to highlight desired aromas and flavors, and with overall good fruit concentration.
The winery produces wines in several series: the top-of-the-line age-worthy Special Reserve wines, which are often blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; and two varietal series, Reserve and Recanati, which now include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah-Zinfandel, Chardonnay and most recently Sauvignon Blanc. The winery also has a popularly priced series named Yasmine. Production is currently about 750,000 bottles annually and the winery is moving towards 800-850,000.
My thanks to Gil, to assistant winemaker Ido and to CEO Noam Jacoby for their courtesies during my visit as well as for a rewarding tasting and their good company. Following are my tasting notes, those in the order in which the wines were tasted.
The White and the Rose Wines
Recanati, Yasmin, White, 2008 (Advance Tasting): A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Emerald Riesling and French Colombard. Light golden straw in color and unoaked, and aromatic, showing tropical and citrus fruits, those with a bare hint of sweetness and an appealing floral note, an easy to drink entry-level wine, the best in the series to date. Drink from release. Score 85. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Sauvignon Blanc-Galilee, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Light gold in color, a lively unoaked white showing pineapple, citrus and citrus peel notes, those supported by a nice hint of Mediterranean herbs. Fresh and lively, with just enough complexity to catch our attention. Drink from release-2010. Score 87. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Chardonnay, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Reflecting its several months in oak with gentle hints of spices, a medium- full-bodied white showing an appealing array of peach, pear and citrus fruits, those backed up nicely by lively acidity. Lively and with an appealing note of complexity. Drink from release-2011. Tentative Score 87-89. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Chardonnay, Reserve, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): An appealing note of spicy oak to show off fine citrus and summer fruits, those with light hints of pepper and juniper berries and, on the generous finish a tantalizing note of bitter citrus peel. Drink from release-2012. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Rose, 2008 (Advance Tasting): A light- to medium-bodied blend of Barbera and Merlot (80% and 20% respectively). Cherry red, with aromas and flavors of raspberries, strawberries and red currants, those matched by a light note of what at one moment seems like mint and at another red licorice. Easy and refreshing. Very nice indeed. Score 88. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
The Red Wines
Recanati, Yasmin, Red, 2008 (Advance Tasting): A medium bodied, softly tannic blend primarily of Caberent Sauvignon and Merlot with a bit each of Carignan and Petite Sirah. Made partly by carbonic maceration, deep purple in color, showing appealing wild berry, black cherry and currant fruits with notes of orange peel and a hint of white pepper. Round and soft, a comfortable quaffer. Drink from release. Score 86. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Merlot, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Garnet in color, medium-bodied, with silky, near-sweet tannins. On the nose and palate generous black fruits, cocoa and mocha. Showing soft and round with good grip and length. Drink from release-2011. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Aging in older barrels and showing a gentle spicy wood influence along with soft, gently mouth-coating tannins. Opens to reveal red currant, berry and orange peel notes, those supported nicely by notes of freshly cut Mediterranean herbs and earthy minerals. Best 2010-2013. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Shiraz, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Developing partly in stainless steel vats, partly in barriques, showing good color and fruit extraction. Medium-bodied, opening with a floral nose and going on to show purple plum, blackberry and leathery notes, those on a background of violets and spring flowers. Appealing but not meant for aging. Best from release-2010. Tentative Score 86-88. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Petite Sirah-Zinfandel, Reserve, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Developing in two year old barriques, showing soft tannins, light spicy notes and opening to reveal appealing ripe plum and berry fruits. With good balance between acidity and fruits, showing round and easy to drink. Drink from release-2011. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Cabernet Franc, Reserve, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Smooth and velvety, with tannins that grip just right and standup nicely to light toasty wood. Notes of rose petals, cherries and raspberries on first attack, those yielding nicely to notes of black cherries, tar and toasted rye bread. Culimnates in an impressively persistent finish on which the oak takes on an appealing sweetish note. Best 2010-2014. Tentative Score 90-92. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Merlot, Reserve, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Developing in barriques, showing deep garnet, with near-sweet soft tannins. Ripe tannins part comfortably to reveal black cherry, currant and black olive notes, those supported by notes of mocha and freshly turned earth. Very nice indeed. Best 2010-2014, perhaps longer. Tentative Score 89-91. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Developing in 20% new oak and partly in one and two year old barriques, showing a traditional Cabernet profile, with currants and raspberries supported nicely by dried spices. Full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely, good concentration and a long finish. Best 2010-2014, perhaps longer. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Special Reserve, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Super-dark, almost inky garnet in color, developing in 60% new oak barriques, already showing remarkably supple and well balanced, a bit wine that even in its youth shows rich, ripe and intense with well focused currant blueberry and blackberry fruits, all on a background of sweet spices. Still fairly tannic but destined to be a seamless and deftly balanced wine. Best 2011-2016, perhaps longer. Tentative Score 91-93. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Special Reserve, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Dark, almost impenetrable garnet in color, full-bodied, with still gripping tannins starting to settle in nicely and showing fine balance with spicy and lightly smoky wood. Opens with a fruity nose and then goes on to reveal aromas and flavors of currants, cherries and wild berries, those complemented by notes of sweet cedar wood and chocolate. Approachable on release but at its most supple from 2010-2015. Tentative Score 90-92. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Merlot, Reserve,2007 (Barrel Tasting): Medium- to full-bodied, opening with generous notes of spicy cedar wood and vanilla and still firm tannins, those with black fruits and showing structure and balance that bode well for the future. Opens in the glass to show gorgeous aromas of crushed blackberries and currants, violets and a tempting hint of bitter herbs. Long, generous and complex. Drink from release-2012. Tentative Score 89-91. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Dark, full-bodied, loaded with chocolate, spices and licorice, opening to reveal a generous array of currants, black cherries and blueberries, all of which linger through a long and supple finish. Best from 2010-2015, perhaps longer. Tentative Score 90-92. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Shiraz, 2007 (Advance Tasting): Medium-bodied, with soft tannins but a crisp texture and showing juicy raspberry and red plum fruits, those finishing on a light note of licorice. Drink from release-2011. Score 87. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Petite Sirah-Zinfandel, Reserve, 2006: Reflecting its 8 months in oak with gently smoky and spicy wood and softly caressing tannins, a blend of 80% Petite Sirah and 20% Zinfandel. Youthful royal-purple, opens to reveal blackberry, pomegranate, mocha and sage notes. Drink now?2012. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Petite Sirah-Zinfandel, Reserve, 2007 (Advance Tasting): Medium-to full-bodied, dark, almost impenetrable garnet, opens with black fruits and a gentle note of spicy wood. Goes on in the glass to reveal red berry and light leathery and peppermint notes. Drink from relese-2012. Score 90. K (Tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 (Advance Tasting): Showing much as at barrel tastings. Medium- to full-bodied, rich and round, showing dark garnet toward youthful purple in color, with generous near-sweet tannins and forward currant, spice and mocha notes. Juicy and long. Drink from release?2010. Tentative Score 88. K (Re-tasted 8 Dec 2008)
Recanati, Special Reserve, 2006: A blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Full-bodied, with firm tannins integrating nicely and showing currant, blackberry and cherry liqueur aromas and flavors. Generous toasty oak here at this stage but that, with the tannins, are settling in nicely to show a simultaneously intense but round and elegant wine. Best 2009-2013. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 8 Dec 2008)