Sommelier – Part Three: Three Comments and 25 Tasting Notes

By: Daniel Rogov

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?By: Daniel Rogov

(a) Why do so many of the smaller wineries insist on aging their wines for so very long in oak?

(b) Why do so many small wineries, some producing 10,000-30,000 bottles, insist on making so many blends and having so many labels that it becomes extraordinarily difficult to know in any year what is being offered and, because those blends and labels change sometimes so frequently, it becomes difficult for consumers to build a track record of consistency for those wineries?

(c) Why is it that when re-tasting some of the wines of some of the small wineries that one cannot escape the feeling that it is a completely different wine that is being re-tasted? Multiple blends, multiple bottlings or simply games being played?

Having so catharted, following is my third set of tasting notes from the Sommelier exhibit.



Avidan, Shiraz, 2006 (Advance Tasting): Dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied, oak-aged for 16 months, showing chunky tannins and skimpy plum and berry fruits. Lacks complexity or depth. Drink from release. Score 85. (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Avidan, Fleur de Lis, 2005: An oak-aged potpourri of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Petite Sirah. Medium- to full-bodied, with generous spicy oak and appealing berry, black cherry and cassis fruits. A pleasant but not complex wine. Score 86. (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Avidan, Blend des Noirs, Purple, 2006: Showing much as at earlier tastings.A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 25% Shiraz. Developed in oak for ten months, garnet toward youthful royal-purple, medium to full-bodied with near-sweet tannins in fine balance with spicy wood. On the nose and palate a generous array of berry, currant and plum fruits, those with hints of espresso and leather. Drink now?2010. Score 87.


Tanya, Chardonnay, Halel Reserve, 2007: Light, bright golden in color, wisely oaked for only 4 months, that giving the wine a bare hint of creaminess but not at all hiding the tempting grapefruit, lemon and tropical fruits that make themselves felt nicely. Refreshing and complex enough to grab our attention. Drink now-2010. Score 89. K (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Tanya, Cabernet Franc, Halal Reserve, 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 (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Tanya, Merlot, Halel, Reserve, 2006: Showing even better than at an earlier tasting with Tanya’s
signature of near-sweet tannins, a soft and generous medium- to full-bodied wine with a plush texture
and its cherry, red berry fruits supported nicely by notes of tobacco, eucalytpus and smoke. Oak-aged
for 14 months and with appealing spicy oak notes rising on the finish. Drink now-2010. Score 89. K
(Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Tanya, Cabernet Sauvignon, Halel, 2006: Dark garnet toward royal-purple, full-bodied, with soft, gently mouth-coating tannins and a gentle hand with spicy wood. Opens to show traditional Cabernet black currant and blackberry fruits, those yielding to show hints of orange peel. Drink now?2011. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)


Kfir, Gewurztraminer, White Nights, Teva, 2007: Light golden straw in color, light- to medium-bodied, and with a bare hint of honeyed sweetness to an overall dry persona. Spicy apples and pears supported by lively acidity. Drink now. Score 85. (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Kfir, Chardonnay, Teva, 2006: Reflecting eight months of development in barriques, showing spicy wood and grapefruit aromas and flavors. Easy to drink but not at all complex. Drink now. Score 84. (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Kfir, Zohara, Teva, 2005: A medium-bodied and softly tannic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A basic berry-black cherry personality, those fruits with a distinct overlay of bitter orange peel. Drink now. Score 84. (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Kfir, Zohara, Teva, 2006: A light- to medium-bodied blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Franc. Medium-dark garnet, with soft tannins and forwards blackberry and blueberry fruits. A pleasant and easy to drink entry-level wine. Drink now. Score 84. (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Kfir, Avichai, 2006: Medium-garnet towards purple, an oak-aged blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah showing spicy and vanilla-rich wood, chunky, country-style tannins and black fruits. An appealing entry-level wine. Drink now. Score 84. (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Kfir, Syrah-Petite Sirah, 2006: Dark garnet towards royal purple in color, showing generous spicy wood and gripping tannins that need a bit of time to settle down and integrate with the blackberry, purple plum and black cherry fruits. Spicy, long and generous. Drink now-2010. Score 86. (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Kfir, Syrah-Petite Sirah, 2005: Showing much as at an earlier tasting. Deep royal-purple in color, this oak-aged blend of 58% Syrah and 42% Petite Sirah shows generous but not dominating spicy wood and still-firm tannins needing time to settle down. Medium to full-bodied, a round wine with plum, wild berry and black cherry fruits on a spicy background. Drink now. Score 87. (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Kfir, Barbera, 2005: Opens with an iodine-medicinal aroma but that blows off quickly. 86% Barbera with 14% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in to add backbone, this medium-bodied, oak-aged, dark ruby towards purple wine shows soft tannins integrating nicely with acidity, spicy wood and appealing berry and currant fruits. On the long and generous finish a hint of smoky tobacco. Drink now. Score 86. (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Kfir, Cabernet Franc, 2005: Made entirely from Cabernet Franc grapes and aged in barriques for 12 months, this medium-bodied and softly tannic wine is showing signs of premature aging. Opens with medicinal and barnyard aromas, the once youthful sweet cherry and currant fruits now taking on a stewed and oxidized note. Drink up. Score 76. (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)


Benhaim, Chardonnay, Tradition, 2007: Showing so dramatically different than at earlier tastings that one might think this a wine previously untasted. Golden straw in color, an unoaked medium-bodied wine with clean and crisp aromas and flavors of lemon and grapefruit. Drink now. Score 84. K (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Benhaim, Muscat, Demi-Sec, 2007: Unoaked and generously floral on the nose but with its citrus and tropical fruits carrying an unwanted overlay of what appears to be Brett, that giving the wine a muddled persona. Drink now. Score 78. K (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Benhaim, Rose, Vin Jeune, 2007: A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, those with short skin contact, opens with what seems to be dusty wood on the nose, that going on to a too generously acidic background. Muddled berry and red cherry notes here. Drink up. Score 70. K (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Behaim, Merlot, Reserve, 2005 (Advance Tasting): Reflecting its oak-aging in new American and French barriques for 20 months with generous cedar wood, spicy and vanilla overtones. Dark garnet in color, full-bodied, with firm tannins that part slowly to reveal black fruits and notes of freshly picked herbs. Drink from release-2011. Score 85. K (Tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Benhaim, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2005 (Advance Tasting): Dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah (90%, 7% and 3% respectively). Tannins now showing more firmly, than at an earlier tasting, in fact almost lip searing, and with generous dusty and spicy oak from its 20-24 months in oak. As the wine opens it shows spicy blackcurrant and berry fruits on a background of saddle leather. Drink from release-2010. Score 85. K (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Benhaim, La Petite Sira, 2004: Showing much as at an earlier tasting. Not a typographical error, the sira in question being a small boat, reflecting the family?s love of sailing. A blend of 60% Petite Sirah and 40% Merlot, aged in oak for 12 months. Super-dark garnet, medium-bodied, showing silky tannins and generous black fruit. Drink up. Score 83. K (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Benhaim, Merlot, Tradition, 2003: Darker garnet than in its youth, with a hint of clearing at the rim. Medium-bodied with soft tannins and reflecting its 14 months in oak with near-sweet cedar wood. Opens to show plums, black cherries and spices with the once pleasing hint of bitterness on the finish now showing more prominently. Past its peak. Drink up. Score 84. K (Re-tasted 18 Nov 2008)

Benhaim, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tradition, 2003: A blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 5% Petite Sirah, this dark garnet, medium to full-bodied wine reflects its 14 months in barriques with generous spicy oak and tannins settling in nicely and showing good balance with currant, blackberry, chocolate and notes of espresso coffee on the long finish. Sliding past its peak. Drink up. Score 85. K

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