By: Daniel Rogov
On Tuesday, 4 November, I tasted three of the wines in Segal’s single vineyard Rechasim series. The first of those was their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and the second the 2004 Merlot (the tasting notes for which can be found at viewtopic.php?f=29&t=19781&p=170071 )
The third wine was the Argaman wine in the same series. Argaman, for the uninitiated is a cross between Carignan and Souzao grapes, an entirely Israeli invention ? in fact, the only grape that has originated in Israel in modern times. It has been no secret that I have shown a marked lack of enthusiasm for this grape since its introduction some twenty years ago. Some people have yet to forgive me for writing when the grape was first unveiled that “Argaman has three major plusses ? excellent color, excellent color and excellent color”. I found then as I have over the years with the few varietal wines that have been released from this grape that Argaman lacked body, depth, aroma, flavor or charm.
Because I found the wine very closed at that first tasting, I obtained several other bottles to set aside, my plan being to taste one about a month from that tasting and then ever three-four months thereafter. The time had come and today’s tasting included the wine. Before the tasting note, let it be said that (a) I find winemaker Avi Feldstein of Segal one of the most charming and pleasant people in the entire local wine industry; (b) I thoroughly enjoy Feldstein’s desire to occasionally be playful and (c) that he makes some excellent wines. Despite all of which, unlike quite a few of my colleagues, I have a few problems with this wine, the tasting note for which follows.
Segal, Argaman, Rechasim, Dovev, 2006: Dark, literally impenetrable royal purple in color and medium- to full bodied, one might be tempted to think this wine was made entirely from Argaman grapes (a cross between Carignan and Sauzao) but that is not quite the case. Argaman may boast fantastic depth of color but is, to be charitable, lacking in most other qualities (e.g. tannins, aroma or flavour), so to give this wine the “push” it needed, it was fermented on the skins of Merlot grapes and then aged in French and American oak barriques, half of which were new, for 18 months. It might not be unfair to say that while we can credit the Argaman grapes for the wine’s deep color, the tannins, flavours and acids came from the Merlot and the oak. Despite all of which, the spicy and smoky wood proves somewhat dominant, the tannins come out as just a bit chunky (i.e. country-style) and the plum and berry flavors prove jammy and perhaps just a bit too near-sweet. Interestingly, not a bad wine so much as it is a highly stylized wine that many may enjoy. My estimate is that this is not a wine meant for cellaring, its elements never coming together fully and perhaps destined to collapse within the next year or two. Worth trying a bottle to see if this is to your taste. Drink now or in the next year or so. Score 85. K (Re-tasted 3 Dec 2008)