Price Range : $46 - 51
Region: Judean Hills, Israel Ready to Drink: 3-5 years after bottle vintage
If you’re looking for a quintessential Israeli red wine, this is it. Carignan is the most widely planted grape in the country, thanks to a Rothschild who brought over a clone from France in the 1880s, and it has provided the backbone for the local wine industry ever since.
As to the source of the grapes used for the 2012 RECANATI Wild Carignan Reserve, the solitary vineyard in the hills of Judea which winemaker Gil Shatsberg first stumbled upon in 2008 is singularly unique in its conditions and terroir. The wild, stark and bare head-trained vines, shaped like a goblet—one of which is pictured on the wine label—are reflective of ancient winemaking tradition. There is no irrigation to be found on the land and, thus, the roots of the vine have to run very deep through rocky and mineral-rich soil to find water. This heavy stress on the vine results in low yields of extraordinary fruit, bearing the strong mark of Middle Eastern terroir.
This is lush red wine so beautifully rich and concentrated, with a rush of blackberry and notes of espresso, licorice, fig, cardamom and fennel in the mix. It’s deep and mellow, round and full but balanced with a refreshing acidity, pairing well with the exotic spices used in traditional cuisine. There’s a Mediterranean X-factor to the quality and texture that you can’t quite pin down, which makes this wine special, rather profound, and uniquely Israel. –J.M.