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In Praise Of Merlot Wine

 

   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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Like Cinderella, wines based on the Merlot grape have too often been forced by their older and better- established sisters to sit in a corner, just a bit ashamed to make a public appearance.

Like Cinderella, wines based on the Merlot grape have too often been forced by their older and better- established sisters to sit in a corner, just a bit ashamed to make a public appearance.

If you’re located in the Northern Hemisphere, July signals the time of year when the weather can be hot enough to make you both thirsty and a bit more than uncomfortable. Our minds go to the efficiency of the air-conditioning in our homes, automobiles, and offices, and our palates take us to dishes that are light and not infrequently intentionally served cold. When we think of wine it is most logical for our thoughts to turn to white wines for, in addition to being served well chilled, those indeed tend to be crisper and more refreshing than reds.

There are two popular wine-related beliefs making the rounds these days, both of which deserve to be put to rest because they are nothing more than pure and unadulterated nonsense. The first of these would have us believe that men are better qualified to taste wine than women, and the second that some wines are more appropriate for men and others for women.

No one has ever said that truly fine wines are going to be found at bargain prices. Such wines, like luxury automobiles, designer handbags, custom-made jewelry and first-class international flights can, in fact, be quite dear. While it is true that most of us will rarely, if ever, buy Lamborghini automobiles and will most probably not approach Gucci to custom design a handbag for us, there is no valid reason to avoid, at least from time-to-time, buying the best wines available.

Bruce Cohn, manager of the rock band The Doobie Brothers, purchased his Sonoma County winery in 1974, and since then has been equally well known for his olive oil and his philanthropy as for his wine. Cohn seems to have done a fine job of precisely what a family-owned boutique operation should be doing, namely creating high quality wines with a distinct personality. In 2008 Cohn made his first kosher wine, and that wine is well worth the attention of the most devoted of wine lovers. Released in a limited edition of 400 cases (4,800 bottles), the wine is only available directly from the winery and can be ordered by calling 800-330-4064 or by visiting www.brcohn.com. Here’s my tasting note for the wine:

Twenty years ago only a handful of kosher wines were produced in Italy and, to tell the truth, most of those were pretty mediocre. Starting about five years ago, however, as those who keep kashrut became increasingly aware of quality wines, Italian producers responded and enormous strides have been made. The result: kosher wine, much of which is worthy of our attention, is now made in every wine-producing region in the country. Perhaps the most exciting recent step in kosher Italian wines is the introduction of truly excellent wines from the Falesco winery in the Umbria region.

For hundreds of years, the wine most often associated with the superior way of life has been Champagne. Attributed a soul, temperament and wit, many Frenchmen are convinced that Champagne can do them no harm, no matter how much they consume. Madame de Pompadour declared that, “it is the only wine that makes a woman more beautiful after drinking.” This delightful beverage is so much a cultural phenomenon in France that a person who dislikes Champagne is pitied or regarded as sick, disabled or depraved.

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