Wine Talk: Bordeaux is best

The classic blend is used often in other parts of the world, but the original beats them all.

wine cellar_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
wine cellar_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bordeaux is an area of south west France which produces a larger volume of great red wines than anywhere. The classic Bordeaux blend contains five different grape varieties. These are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and to a lesser extent, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The Cabernet Sauvignon provides structure and firmness, Merlot flesh and roundness, Cabernet Franc aroma, Malbec spicyness and Petit Verdot a tannic hardness and color. This underlines the objective of making a blend. The combination is greater than the individual components.
Though California, Australia and Israel all make very good Bordeaux-style wines, the leading Bordeaux reds are still the best. The most famous are from the west bank of the Gironde Estuary in the Haut Medoc, and include wines such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Margaux. They are today more likely to be blends of just three varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
On the right bank, the most famous wines are usually made from Merlot, sometimes with Cabernet Franc. Chateau Petrus from Pomerol and Chateau Cheval Blanc from St.
Emilion are two of the most famous. However though the top Bordeaux wines are world beaters, don’t be misled. There are a large number of less expensive Bordeaux wines that don’t match up to the majesty of the name.
In the late 1880s Baron Edmond de Rothschild, founder of Carmel and the modern Israel wine industry, insisted on bringing Bordeaux varieties to Israel for the first time. As he was owner of Chateau Lafite, this could only be expected. Then they did not catch on, but now, over 100 years later, Israel’s most successful wines in the court of international opinion are wines made from the Bordeaux grapes.
For example only 14 Israeli wines have ever gained 91 points or more from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, yet nine of them have been Bordeaux style blends. The nine have been spread between only four wines: Yatir Forest has achieved this four times, Castel Grand Vin three times and both Carmel Limited Edition and Yarden Katzrin once each. These are the flagship wines of Yatir Winery, Domaine du Castel, Carmel Winery and the Golan Heights Winery respectively.

In Israel, a Bordeaux-style blend is referred to as a wine with any combination of the five Bordeaux varieties. Here are some of my favorites:
Yarden Mount Hermon Red 2009 Blend of all the main Bordeaux varieties.
Vibrant red wine, flavorful and not astringent.
Not aged in oak.
Selected Cabernet Merlot 2009 Light, fruity, easy drinking blend of Cabernet and Merlot. Unoaked.
Serve chilled.
BEST BUY – NIS 40 to 60
Private Collection Cabernet Merlot 2009 Blend of Cabernet and Merlot, aged in oak barrels. Well balanced, fruity, but with good structure. Represents very good value.
Yogev Cabernet Merlot Blend of Cabernet and Merlot.
Produced by Binyamina Winery.
Good berry fruit, lightly oaked. A good drinking wine.
BEST QPR – NIS 60 to NIS 100
Pelter Trio 2009 (NK) The trio is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The wine has an aroma of blackcurrants and cherries with a backdrop of spice and vanilla. Lingering finish.
Mony Claret 2009 A kosher Bordeaux-style blend, made by a Canadian winemaker, for an Israeli Arab owned winery in a monastery! The wine is concentrated, quite big, but will soften given time.
Psagot Edom 2008 Impressive Bordeaux style blend from a fast improving winery. Perfect balance between fruit and tannins, with good acidity. Oaky, but not overdone.
Agur Special Reserve 2007 Underrated wine, for those that don’t like bombastic wines. Wellmade blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Yatir Forest 2007 Rich, velvety, concentrated blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot from vineyards in Yatir Forest. Winery situated at Tel Arad in the Negev.
Castel Grand Vin 2008 Judean Hills blend of the five Bordeaux varieties. Classic French style. Blackcurrant and blackberry nose, elegant with soft tannins, refreshing acidity and a long balanced finish.
Carmel Limited Edition 2007 Classic Bordeaux in style, made from all five Bordeaux varieties from Upper Galilee vineyards. Delicate blackcurrant nose with a feminine elegance, but with exquisite balance.
Margalit Enigma 2008 (NK) Full-bodied blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, grown in an Upper Galilee vineyard.
Complex, silky, with great depth and a nose of fruit, tobacco and mocha.
Adam Montefiore works for Carmel Winery and regularly writes on wine for both Israeli and international publications.
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NK = Not kosher