Three Single Vineyard Releases from Segal (K)

05/11/2008
By: Daniel Rogov

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Under winemaker Avi Feldstein, with quality vineyards in several regions of the Upper Galilee, and operating now in Barkan?s state-of-the-art facilities at Kibbutz Hulda, the winery is now producing several excellent wines, including Single Vineyard Rechasim and Unfiltered wines.

It may strike some as a bit amusing that Barkan likes to refer to Segal as its boutique arm. Considering that in addition to its upper level series, Segal produces well over 1.5 million bottles annually, of which more than one million are in the entry-level Shel Segal series, this is hardly a “boutique winery”. All of which can be put aside however as under the leadership of winemaker Avi Feldstein the best wines of Segal are of definite quality and interest, these latest releases being no exception to that rule of thumb.

My tasting notes for two of the wines and rather extended comments about the third follow. My thanks to Avi Feldstein and others from the winery for their courtesies.

Best
Rogov

Segal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rechasim, Dishon, 2005: A single vineyard wine, dark, almost inky-garnet in color, concentrated and intense. Full-bodied and tannic enough to be thought of as chewy, the tannins integrating nicely and showing fine balance with the wood in which the wine was aged. Generous black fruits here, but not so much a fruity wine as a spicy one led by aromas and flavors of smoked bacon, licorice and espresso coffee. Drink now?2012. NIS 110. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 4 Nov 2008)

Segal, Merlot, Rechasim, Dovev, 2004: Dark garnet towards royal purple, this medium to full-bodied, wine was super-generous with its tannins in its youth so waiting to release this one was a wise move on the part of the winery. With those tanninins now integrating nicely with spicy and showing well-tuned balance and structure. Aromas and flavors of black cherries, blackberries and purple pluims, those matched nicely by spicy oak accents and, on the long finish, hints of espresso and dark chocolate. Drink now?2012. NIS 110. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 4 Nov 2008)

And then, as wineries like to do from time to time at tastings, there was a “mystery wine” that poured from bottles wrapped in paper bags so that we had no hints as to the label. I tasted once, twice and three times. I asked for a refill and tasted a fourth and fifth time. If it had been considered polite, I might have scratched my head and even my private parts for no matter how I tried I could not guess at the variety.

On my tasting pad I wrote “?not Carignan; not one of the Cabernets; not one of the Pinots; not Malbec; not a Spanish variety; not from Cahors; not from Bordeaux. And then I gave up. I did, however, make a tentative tasting note, that to the effect ? “so closed that the wine is either very young and in bottle shock or mature enough that it has entered a dumb period. My guess was that the wine is was young and “either in bottle shock or in serious trouble”

The wine was revealed as winemaker Avi Feldstein’s latest arpatka (Hebrew for “adventure”) as what may be the country’s first serious attempt at producing a wine from Argaman. Technically at any rate the wine is Segal, Argaman, Rechasim, Dovev, 2006.

As is fairly well known, I have not been a proponent of the Argaman grape, that an Israeli made cross between Carignan and the Portugese Souzao grapes. In fact, at least a few people have never forgiven me for what I have had to say about Argaman for when the grape first appeared on the local scene I wrote 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 and charm.

Because I found the wine so closed at this tasting I am taking the privilege of holding off for another month or two before I do a re-tasting and a true tasting note. What offers a distinct note of hope for the wine is that it was fermented on the skins of Merlot grapes. Fair is fair and the next tasting will be blind. As to selecting peers for Argaman, not sure yet. Should be an interesting puzzle. At any rate, the wine will be appearing on the market in the next few days and is going for NIS 110. Perhaps worth buying a bottle or two and setting it aside for a short while before tasting?..

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