Tasting Castel In Magnum Formats (K)

By: Daniel Rogov

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?By: Daniel Rogov

Many have asked for comments and tasting notes of the wines of the Domaine du Castel in magnum format. Alas, these are not tastings that come on a regular basis even to the most dedicated of critics. This evening, though, the opportunity arose and thanks to the courtesy of Eli and Ariel Ben Zaken of the winery and of chef Meir Adoni of Tel Aviv’s Catit restaurant, I attended a dinner at which we tasted a variety of the Castel wines from magnum format.

The wines were, of course, not tasted blind and were consumed together with food. I must say that each of the seven courses served was both interesting and excellent, each reflecting chef Adoni’s talents as well as his sense of playfulness. Even that he relies to a minimal extent on foams and other concoctions of molecular gastronomy offends me not, because his is an intentionally frivolous use of these tools and never hides the natural flavors of the ingredients and preparations on which he relies.

I must say that I enjoyed the good company of those seated next to me at a communal table of fifteen. I must also comment that despite my pleasure, I made a specific point of focusing on the wines in order to make valid tasting notes. More than that, either before and after the meal and tasting, I sampled from each of these wines in standard (that is to say 750 cc) bottles in my own tasting room in order to compare how the various wines are showing in both formats.

My tasting notes follow, those paired from the magnum formats tasted at the restaurant and the regular format. My thanks to Ariel Ben Zaken, chef Adoni and the staff of the restaurant for their warm greeting and courtesies throughout the evening.


Castel, “C”, Chardonnay, Blanc du Castel, 2004: Deep gold in color, full-bodied, with gentle oak and a note of toffee on the nose, showing fine balance between wood and fruits. On the nose and palate citrus, citrus peel, white peach and Anjou pears and, on the long finish a tempting note of Brazil nuts. Calls to mind a fine Burgundy Chevalier-Montrachet. Drink now-2013. Score 92. K (Tasted in Magnum Format 1 Mar 2010)

Castel, “C?, Chardonnay, Blanc du Castel, 2004: Damp golden-straw in color, medium to full-bodied, with gentle oak influences highlighting lively citrus, melon and pear fruits. A mature Chardonnay, long and generous with an appealing hint of spices that rises on the finish. Drink now. Score 91. K (Re-tasted in 750 cc format 1 Mar 2010)


Castel, “C” Chardonay, Blanc du Castel, 2005: Bright, youthful gold in color, on the nose white peaches and toffee, showing generous floral and mineral notes to highlight citronella, fig and toasty oak, all in fine balance. From mid-palate on, creamed mango and toasty oak, all in fine proportion. On the super-long finish, notes of roasted nuts and citrus peel. Still young. Drink now-2013. Score 93. (Tasted in Magnum format 1 Mar 2010)

Castel “C” Chardonnay, Blanc du Castel 2005: My most recent tasting note (15 Jan 2010) holds firmly: Developed beautifully, still a peaches and cream wine but now in place of the youthful citrus, figs and summer fruits, notes of ripe peaches, pears and toasty oak, all coming together beautifully and leading to a long and elegant finish. Not for further cellaring. Drink now. Score 92. K (Re-tasted in 750 cc. format 1 Mar 2010)


Castel, Grand Vin, 2003: Dark garnet full-bodied with still firm tannins waiting quietly to integrate just a wee bit more On the nose and palate purple plums, those going to blackcurrants, blackberries, green olives and a hint of smoked meat. Showing fine balance and structure, approachable and enjoyable now but best from 2011-2015. Score 91. K (Tasted in Magnum format 1 Mar 2010)

Castel, Grand Vin Castel, 2003: On the nose and palate black fruits and smoked meat. Dark garnet and full-bodied, with tannins now gently caressing and opening to reveal blackcurrants, wild berries, sweet herbs and a hint of green olives. At its peak now and as this one continues to develop in the bottle expect the fruits to recede and make room for more earthy-herbal notes. Drink now-2012. Score 90. K (Re-tasted in 750 cc. format 1 Mar 2010)


Castel, Grand Vin, 2004: Dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied (leaning to the full), with still gripping tannins and generous wood but showing good structure and fine balance with fruits and acidity. Opens with a tantalizing note of bittersweet chocolate, that parting to reveal blackberry, currant and tobacco notes, all coming together as a coherent and elegant whole. If you have this one in magnum format give it the time it deserves. Approachable now but best 2011-2016, perhaps longer. Score 93. K (Tasted in Magnum format 1 Mar 2010)

Castel, Grand Vin Castel, 2004: Dark garnet with once firm tannins now integrating nicely with spicy wood. On the nose and palate currants and blackberries those supported very nicely indeed by notes of raspberries, licorice and tobacco, all lingering long and comfortably on the palate. An elegant wine. Drink now-2013. Score 93. K (Re-tasted in 750 cc. format 1 Mar 2010)


Castel, Grand Vin, 2005: Showing precisely the same color, aroma and flavor profiles as in the 750 cc bottles (see the following tasting note) with the exception that the tannins and wood have yet to fully integrate in the magnum format, this showing the youth of the wine in large formats. Best 2012-2017. Score 92. K (Tasted in Magnum format 1 Mar 2010)

Castel, Grand Vin, 2005: My earlier tawsting note holds firmly. Dark toward inky garnet, with just a bit of clearing at the rim, with firm tannins now integrating nicely with spicy and smoky oak. Deeply aromatic, opens in the glass to show a nose and palate of black currant, blackberry and purple plum fruits on a background of roasted herbs and near-sweet tobacco. On the long finish hints of citrus peel, anise and cherry-flavored dark chocolate. Drink now?2012. Score 92. K (Re-tasted in 750 cc format 1 Mar 2010)


Castel, Grand Vin, 2007: Deep, dark garnet, remarkably full-bodied and deeply extracted, showing generous but soft tannins and spicy oak, those needing time to reside somewhat. Opens very slowly at this stage to reveal black fruits, espresso coffee, citrus peel and black olives on a background that hints nicely of earthy minerals and black licorice. Destined for elegance but in large format needs time. Barely approachable but have no fear for all this one needs is time. Best 2012-2019. Score 93. K

Castel, Grand Vin Castel, 2007: The by now traditional Grand Vin blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, that flushed out with Merlot Petit Verdot Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Full bodied, dark and well extracted, firm on opening but yielding comfortably in the glass to reveal gently caressing tannins, notes of spicy oak and generous blackcurrant, blackberry and blueberry fruits, those supported by notes of mocha, orange peel and black olives. On the super-long finish a tempting note of licorice. Long, generous and coherent. Drink now-2015. Score 92. K

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