2006 Trio - Cabernet Merlot Cabernet Franc
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Spying in the Holy Land
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Explore the new generation of wineries and winemakers in Israel
Mission Status: Ongoing!
Current Winery: Pelter Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Trio Cabernet Merlot Cabernet Franc
Winemaker: Tal Pelter
While the origins of wine can be traced to the Levant (the Eastern Mediterranean, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Palestinian territories), it is only of recent that producers have made wines of the quality and production value that would appeal to a true wine spy’s palate. In Israel in particular, a renaissance of sorts has occurred with an group of younger winemakers who have honed their skills in Italy, France and Australia have returned to their roots and taken up the challenge of making exciting new wines that are representative of the unique Terroir of the region.
Israel has five distinct growing regions each with their own unique climate, aspect and soil. Today we head to the Galilee (Galil) in the northernmost region of near the Lebanese and Syrian border. The Galilee is broken up into three regions and Pelter’s vineyards are in the Upper Galilee in the Golan. This particular region has among the most unique climates in all of Israel with higher rainfall as well as a higher elevation. This climate combined with the volcanic basalt soil supports Pelter’s vineyards.
NOTE: This wine is not Kosher nor does it bear any resemblance to Manischewitz or the other overly sweet Concord grape wines of Passover.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple in color with excellent clarity. Ruby and garnet hues fade to orange/brick and pink along the edges. When swirled, clusters of long slender legs streak down the edge of the glass.
Smell – Bold and classic Cabernet aromas of blackberries and green peppers that are supported by a pine tar and a unique sweet tannin component and hints of caramel. In this spy’s opinion this wine smells like Israel (that’s a good thing).
Feel – On the palate, this medium-bodied wine has fine, slightly sweet but firm tannins that have a youthful and grippy quality that becomes smoother as this youthful wine opens up.
Taste – Youthful and fruit-forward in its flavors with ripe cherries and blackberries backed by flavors of oak, hints of spicy black (hits on the tip of the tongue and mid palate) and green peppers and a touch of mocha.
Finish – This wine finishes long with its distinctive Cabernet berry and green pepper flavors.
Conclusion – Tal Pelter’s classic Cabernet blend (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc) shows a clear link to his training as an Aussie winemaker all the while integrating a flair unique the wines of Israel.
With wines like Pelter’s (and we’ve tasted several others – to be featured in the future), the future of Israel’s wine is fun and exciting.
This was to be one of our most dangerous insertions into wine country. I jumped aboard a C-130 military transport flying at 47,000 eastbound very close to disputed territory. Sucking 100% oxygen for created a euphoric feeling and only heightened my excitement of a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump. As we approached my landing zone, the aircraft dove to 35,000 feet and the back door opened. I have a 3 second window to get out the cargo door before the pilot would have to climb back up to avoid the inevitable SAM sites. Even with the radar jamming capabilities, altitude was the pilot’s best friend.
Everything went as planned and before I knew it I was screaming heads-down at about 248 mph towards the ground. The feeling is like going into a vacuum or jumping light-speed in Star-Trek. I was free falling for what seemed like an hour (actually just about a minute). Knowing the terrain, I delayed my chute deployment and went prone to slow myself to 120 mph and also to glide towards my LZ so I could get a better sense of the vineyards I would be investigating. At about 5000, I deployed my drogue parachute and slammed on the breaks. The feeling is like being pulled back to reality by a bungee cord.
Relieved to be close to the ground, oh did I mention that I’m in the Golan Heights, in Israel? Being so close to the Syrian border and with their designs on reacquiring the territory this was no easy mission. As I got close to the ground, I snapped a few pictures. Once one the ground, I immediately stowed my chute and gathered my gear from my Wine Spy’s Combat Pack (wine key, two crystal glasses, and bow-tie, etc.).
The wine was just where it was supposed to be. At the end of the third row of vines, in a terracotta vase I found a couple bottles, notes and a map. With the first beams of sunlight peaking over the eastern mountains, I decided to take stock in this mission, once I was in a secure location, I’d have a chance to taste these preliminary samples. For at daybreak my first stop would me Pelter Winery, to meet Australian trained winemaker Tal Pelter.
Tal Pelter, a young upstart winemaker along with his family was known for his exceptional Cabernet blends. In seeing the unique Terroir of the vineyards in the area I was getting anxious to taste some of these new exciting wines.
to be continued…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Golan in the Upper Galilee can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
The wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. The grapes are hand picked followed by 14 months of aging in French oak barrels. Medium bodied, rich in spice, chocolate and red berry flavors. Long , soft and complex finish.
About The Winery:
PELTER WINERY was established, as a family business, by Tal Pelter upon his return to Israel from Australia where he studied viticulture and wine making. With the help of his family, Tal established the winery in 2002, on the grounds of the family farm in Moshav Zofit, Israel. The first winery facilities were built by the family and friends, and produced wines of four vintages 2001-2004.
At the end of the second vintage, Tal decided that the winery he desired was larger than the “home winery” on the grounds of the family farm and thus began a search for a permanent location of an expanded facility – were the production of his wine could be combined with growth of the grapes.
As a first step, Tal and Einbar together with their two small daughters Shacham and Aya, acquired a home in Kibbutz Merom Golan and began an effort to acquire land on the Golan on which the winery would be built and vineyards planted. During the summer of 2005 the winery was transferred to a temporary location on Kibbutz Ein Zivan adjacent to Merom Golan.
The 2005 vintage produced successfully in the Ein Zivan location and resulted in a production of approximately 24,000 bottles.
In addition, at the end of August 2005, Tal supervised the planting, on the Golan, of 35 dunams (8.75 acres) of grapes for the winery – a further step in the direction of establishing of the new winery. Tal’s dream of a permanent winery, on the northern portion of Ramat HaGolan, is in the final stages of realization.
The production of wine in the Pelter Winery is different and exceptional due to its clear Australian orientation. We believe in the art of blending grape varieties with the goal of producing easily approachable quality wines, permitting their consumption at the time of their production or their cellaring for further maturation and enhanced quality and taste.
An aspect of our approach is to produce wines that have not as yet been encountered in Israel, but which are nonetheless suitable to the Israeli taste and climate. Shiraz and Semillon are varieties which are suitable to warm climates, as is Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand version) sharp and dry, picked relatively early, greener and with a higher acidic content.
Aging of the wine is accomplished after serious consideration, in particular in regards to suitability of the particular type of barrel to variety of grape. The use of French barrels in combination with a smaller number of American barrels, the use of new barrels for fruit which is truly capable of absorbing the wood flavors in a positive manner – these are a few of the techniques employed by Tal in influencing the wine taste by means of the ageing process.
Alcohol content: 14.5%