Yarden, Merlot, Kela Vineyard, 2008: Deep, almost impenetrable garnet in color, full-bodied, concentrated and well-focused, reflecting its 14 months in French barriques with chewy tannins and notes of spicy cedar, those parting to make way for aromas and flavors of blackberries, plums, espresso and sage. On the long finish notes of roasted herbs. Give this one some time and it will show appealing earthy minerals and hints of citrus peel. Drink now-2018, perhaps longer. Score: 93.
Flam, Reserve, Merlot, 2008: Oak-aged in French barriques for 15 months, a blend of 90 percent Merlot and five percent each of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark garnet toward royal purple, with ample soft tannins and a gentle hand with the oak, showing aromas and flavors of currants and black cherries, those supported nicely by notes of peppermint, spring flowers and spices, a tempting light, earthy note rising on the long finish. Drink now-2018. Score: 92.
Karmei Yosef, Merlot, Bravdo, 2009: Deep garnet toward royal purple, medium- to full-bodied (leaning to the full) with gently caressing tannins and not at all exaggerated notes of spicy wood, those complementing a generous array of blackcurrant, wild berry and raspberry fruits. Deep and round, with notes of cigar tobacco, and a tantalizing hint of sweetness on the long finish. Finely tuned balance and structure bode well for an elegant wine as this one continues to develop. Drink now-2016, perhaps longer. Score: 92.
Carmel, Single Vineyard, Merlot, Sha’al, 2009: Aged for 10 months in small oak barrels, showing dark garnet toward royal purple in color. Medium- to full-bodied (leaning to the full), opens with a generous hint of mint on a black-fruit nose, going on to reveal purple plums and then to raspberries and red currants. Drink now-2016, perhaps longer. Score: 91.
Barkan Superieur, Merlot, Superieur, 2008: Still a tentative blend but already showing fine promise. Almost impenetrably dark garnet in color, full-bodied, with black fruits and a light note of sawdust on the nose, showing gently gripping tannins and a tempting array of cassis, wild berries and dark chocolate on the nose and palate. Long and generous. Destined for elegance. Drink now-2016. Score: 91.
Reserve, Merlot, Reserve, 2008: Made from low-yield, non-irrigated grapes from the Manara vineyard in the Upper Galilee, full-bodied, with soft, gently gripping tannins integrating nicely. Dark garnet and showing a tempting array of wild berries, black cherries and currants, those matched gently by notes of spicy cedarwood. Deep, generous and long, with near-sweet tannins rising on the long finish. Drink now-2016. Score: 91.
Dalton, Reserve, Merlot, 2007: Developed for 18 months in French barriques, half of which were new, showing soft, gently caressing tannins, spicy cedarwood and generous wild berry and cassis, those supported by herbal, tobacco notes and on the long finish a flavor of red plums rising. Drink now-2013. Score: 90.
Ella Valley Vineyards, Merlot, 2008: Deep garnet in color, full-bodied with still-gripping tannins but already showing fine balance and structure that bode well for the future. Rich and round, a fruity red with an abundance of blackberry, raspberry and currant notes, those showing an appealing floral note. From mid-palate on to the long finish, hints of citrus peel and milk chocolate. Drink now-2014. Score: 90.
Galil Mountain, Merlot, 2009: Garnet toward royal purple, an unoaked red, medium- to full-bodied, with soft, gently caressing tannins, showing currant, wild berry and purple plums on a lightly spicy background. Not complex but making for very pleasant drinking and, at its best, with small cuts of beef or veal. Drink now-2013. Score: 86.
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