? By: Daniel Rogov
It may because I am “old” or it may be that because my memory remains intact despite my age, but I remember the days in 1991 when the greatest excitement in the Israeli wine industry was when Segal released its “Segal Ragil” ? that is to say the vin ordinaire” of Segal. Like most ordinary wines, that one was just a bit coarse but it had moderate tannins, good fruits and even hints of dark chocolate. At the then going price of NIS 14 (about $3.50 at the time), this was one of the best buys in Israel and a simple but good enough quaffer.
Segal has come a long ways since those days. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Barkan, with winemaker Avi Feldstein producing truly fine wines in the single vineyard and unfiltered series as well as wines in the Marom Galil, Ben Ami, Rechasim Segal is now a major player in the quality field. True, among the most popular of the wines remain those in popular priced, entry-level Shel Segal series, but that’s fair enough as those too have their audience.
Yesterday, when visiting Barkan, I also did a tasting of the Segal wines, some re-tastings, some barrel tastings. As a point of possible interest, in the quite near future I will be doing a major tasting of the Shel Segal wines and the wines in Barkan’s Classic series.
My thanks to winemaker Avi Feldstein for a good tasting and his equally good company.
Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rechasim, Dishon, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Deep royal purple, a concentrated and intense wine at this stage, with still firmly gripping tannins and generous spicy oak, the wine already showing fine balance and structure that bode well for the future. On the nose and palate traditional Cabernet aromas and flavors of blackcurrants and blackberries, those on a background of bittersweet chocolate and, from mid-palate to the long finish appealing hints of red berries and cigar tobacco. Best from 2012-2018. Tentative Score 90-92. K (Tasted 2 Feb 2011)
Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marom Galil, Single, 2008: Oak-aged for 18 months, showing dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied and with gently gripping tannins that highlight blackcurrants, purple plums and black cherries, those on a background that hints at one moment of mint and at another of green olives and Mediterranean herbs. Drink now-2013. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 2 Feb 2011)
Segal, Merlot, Rechasim, Dovev, 2006: Dark garnet toward royal purple, full-bodied, with firm tannins just now starting to settle down. With generous spicy wood and crisp acidity, opens to reveal an array of near-sweet black fruits and, on the finish a note of green gage plums. Drink Score 87. K (Re-tasted 2 Feb 2011)
Segal, Merlot, Rechasim, Dovev Vineyard, 2007: Super-dark garnet towards royal purple, medium- to full-bodied, with its once firm tannins and generous acidity now integrating nicely with spicy wood and fruits, showing fine concentration and balance. On opening attack red fruits, those going on to blackberries and black currants, those overlaid with aromas and flavors of freshly cut sweet herbs. Drink now-2014. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 2 Feb 2011)
Segal, Argaman, Rechasim, Dovev Vineyard, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Showing somewhat better than at an earlier tasting. Soft and round, almost impenetrably dark garnet toward royal purple, with super-soft tannins and notes of smoke coming not from the grape but from the oak in which it aged. On the nose and palate somewhat amorphous blueberry, blackberry and cassis flavors (not much in the way of aromatics here). Not at all a “bad” wine but one that fails to inspire. Drink now. Score 86. K (Re-tasted 2 Feb 2011)
Segal, Argaman, Rechasim,Dovev Vineyard, 2007: Oak-aged for 18 months in new American, French and other European barriques, the wine shows deep royal purple in color. Although the nose is somewhat quiet, the flavors are pronounced, on first attack showing raspberries, those yielding comfortably to black fruits and a hint of mint, all of which are complemented by soft, gently gripping tannins. Drink now-2013, perhaps longer. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 2 Feb 2011)
Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Unfiltered, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Dark, almost impenetrable garnet, full-bodied, with its still firm tannins now starting to settle in nicely. On the nose notes of spicy oak and crushed berries. Opens in the glass to reveal a generous array of blackcurrants, black cherries and bitter citrus peel. Long and mouth-filling destined to always be a muscular wine, one that will do very nicely indeed with large cuts of beef. Tentative Score 90-92. K (Tasted 2 Feb 2011)
Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Unfiltered, 2007: My earlier tasting note holds firmly. Perhaps the best of Segal’s unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon releases to date. Dark garnet, full-bodied, with a black fruit and spicy nose, showing firm tannins that yield comfortably in the glass to reveal on first attack blackberries and bitter-sweet chocolate, those followed by notes of red and black currants, those matched nicely by notes of cloves, dill and black olives all lingering nicely on a long and generous finish. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from 2012-2017, perhaps longer. Score 92. K (Re-tasted 2 Feb 2011)