?By: Daniel Rogov
This early morning (Monday, 26 Apr 2010) found me on my way to the Upper Galilee to my annual visit to the Dalton Winery there for a series of tastings.
Founded by the Haruni family in 1993, this fully modern winery located in the industrial park of Dalton in the Upper Galilee has vineyards in Kerem Ben Zimra and several high altitude sites along the Lebanese border. New vineyards are also being developed. Australian and Californian-trained winemaker The talented Na?ama Mualem is currently producing wines in seven series, the age-worthy Single Vineyard, Reserve, Safsufa Vineyards and Dalton Estate wines, as well as the Alma, Dalton and Canaan series, those of similar varieties but which are intended for early drinking. With the 2006 vintage, a wine under the Matatia label was released, that perhaps destined to become the winery?s flagship wine. Grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Barbera, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. First production was 50,000 bottles and current production is about one million bottles annually. Dalton has earned a consistently good name for high quality wines, providing excellent value for money.
As has become our wont, after the tasting we made our way to the village of Jish (GushHalav), there to partake of a lunch built entirely of mezes at the simple but consistently pleasing Lee’ali Beirut restaurant. My thanks to Na’ama, Alex Haruni and CEO Moshe Haviv for their warm welcome, their good company throughout the day and especially for a fine tasting. My notes follow in the order of the tasting.
Dalton, Chardonnay, Unoaked, 2009: Delighted that the winery has started producing this unoaked Chardonnay once again. Light gold I color, with lively acidity and appealing apple, citrus and tropical fruits ona light mineral background. A wine that consistently reminds me of Petit Chablis. Drink now. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Fume Blanc, Estate, 2009 (Advance Tasting): Allowed to ferment spontaneously and then developed sur lie in for 3 ? 4 months in new 500 liter oak barrels, that just to pass on a hint of smoky and spicy wood. Fragrant, and on the nose and palate an appealing smoky quality that comes together nicely with citrus, grapefruit, peach and spicy notes. Fine acidity makes this an easy to drink wine but one with just enough complexity to grabour attention. Drink now-2012. Score 89. K (Tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Viognier, Reserve, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): Intentionally to be aged for only four months to keep its natural flavors, showing bright gold, with near sweet fruits set off by lively acidity. On the nose and palate pears, litchis, cream and white pepper leading to a smooth, round and long finish. Drink from release-2012. Tentative Score 89-91. K (Tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Viognier, Reserve, 2008: Showing every well as at barrel tastings. Light gold I color, fermented with wild yeasts and with a deeply aromatic nose. A rich array of aromas and flavors including honeyed nectarine and pineapple fruits, those with a hint of white pepper. Rich,lively and harmonious despite its high 15% alcohol content. Drink now-2013. Score 91. (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Merlot, Estate, 2008: Reflecting its 10 months in French oak with gentle notes of spicy wood to highlight blackberry, black cherry and notes of bittersweet chocolate and tobacco. Medium- to full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins and lingering nicely the fruits and aromas rising on the long finish. Drink now-2013. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Merlot, Reserve, 2007: Living comfortably up to its barrel-tasting promise. Developed for 18 months in French barrique, half of which were new, showing soft, gently caressing tannins, spicy cedar wood and generous wild berry and cassis notes, those supported by herbal, tobacco notes and on the long finish a note of red plums rising. Drink now-2013. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Petite Sirah, Estate, 2009 (Barrel Tasting): From ten year old, relatively low yield vines, super-dark in color, more royal purple than garnet. Full-bodied, with still gripping tannins and spicy wood in fine balance and needing only time to settle down to highlight raspberry, blackberry and spicy cedar wood all with an overlying hint of violets. Drink from release-2015. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Alma, 2007: Almost impenetrably dark garnet in color, a full-bodied blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Developed in mostly used French barriques for 14 months, showing gently mouth-coating tannins and light notes of sweet cedar wood. Aromatic and opens with ripe black and purple fruits, those on a background of chocolate and sweet chewing tobacco. Approachable and enjoyable now, but best 2011?2014. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Alma, 2008 (Advance Tasting): A full-bodied blend of 45% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with 10% Cabernet Franc. With gently caressing tannins and moderate notes of spicy cedar wood, opens to reveal an array of wild berries, currants and citrus peel, those hinting of roasted herbs and espresso coffee. Drink from release-2015. Score 91. K (Tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Zinfandel, 2007: My earlier tasting note holds firmly. Deep, almost impenetrable garnet in color, developed in new American oak and blended with about 7% Merlot. Generously aromatic, with gently gripping tannins and not at all imposing oak notes, those in fine balance with black and red fruit, including red currants, blackberries, blueberries and huckleberries, all on a generously spicy background. Although the wine boasts a 15.5% alcohol content it manages to keep nicely in balance and shows elegance. Drink now?2012. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Zinfandel, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Dark garnet toward royal purple, blended with 12% of Petite Sirah, oak-aged in new American oak for 12 months, showing fine balance between wood, soft tannins and fruits. On the nose and palate ripe wild berry, blackberry and boysenberry fruits. Elegant and polished, generously mouth-filling without ever feeling heavy. Drink from release?2013. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton Estate, Shiraz, 2008: Aged in new American oak for 10 months, dark garnet, full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins and notes of spicy wood. Opens to show spicy red and black fruits complemented by hints of saddle leather and black tea. Drink now?2013, perhaps longer. Tentative Score 90. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Shiraz, Reserve, 2007: Dark garnet in color, medium- to full bodied, blended with 5% of VIognier and developed in new French oak. Opens with an appealing floral and bitter-nutty nose, that going on to show spicy wood and gently mouth-coating tannins. On the palate a generous array of black and purple fruits, those complemented nicely by notes of Mediterranean herbs and cigar tobacco. Drink now?2014. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Shiraz, Reserve, 2008 (Advance Tasting) : Blended and fermented together with 7% Viognier, the blend developed for 14 months in 60% of New French oak, showing forward blackberry, currant and purple plums, those matched by a generous note of black licorice. Long, concentrated and, given time, will show elegance. Best from 2011-2014, perhaps longer. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate “D”, 2008: My earlier tasting note holds firmly.: Deep garnet in color, opens with a fruit-rich nose, goes on to show generous wild berries, black currants and spices, those on a medium- to full-bodied frame with gently gripping tannins and light cedar notes, all lingering nicely. Drink now?2013. Score 89. K
Dalton, Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Vineyard, Meron, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Medium- to full-bodied, rich and intense but not heavy, showing ripe currants and blackberries, those on a background that hints of sandalwood and cedar and ends with a note of anise. Drink from release-2015, perhaps longer. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2008 (Advance Tasting): Super-dark garnet in color, with a floral and plum-rich nose. Full-bodied, with silky near-sweet tannins and gentle notes of spicy sweet cedar wood part to reveal traditional currant, blackberry, herbal and spicy notes. Drink from release-2015. Score 91. K (Tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, 2007: Deep garnet towards royal purple, its once firm tannins and generous wood now settling in to show the wine’s fine balance and structure. On the nose and palate traditional Cabernet blackcurrant and blackberry fruits, those supported by hints of freshly cured tobacco and bitter-sweet chocolate. Long and generous and o the finish an appealing hint of green olives. Drink now-2016. Score 92. K (Tasted 26 Apr 2010)
Dalton, Moscato, 2009: Lightly frizzante, with generous sweetness set off nicely by acidity to keep it lively. On the nose and palate citrus, citrus peel and tropical fruits. Serve as well chilled as you would a Champagne. Mevushal (pasteurized) but that seems to highlight the freshness of the fruits. By any standards, a fun wine that will make you smile. Drink now. Score 87. K (Tasted 26 Apr 2010)