Launch of Margalit 2011 Vintage
Finally, a few moments to make a posting or two. Hopefully I’ve got the inspiration as well.
As I mentioned in my previous posting, the Margalit Winery is holding their annual open house and launching wines from their 2011 vintage during the run up to Pesach. This event is running for three consecutive weekends, with the last being March 22 – 23. The announcement for this event, along with a map of how to get there, is here, and you can also find Margalit on my wineries map. If you’re walking from the train station, Margalit is just across the green pedestian bridge and a bit to the south. There’s no sign.
I went on the first day of the open house as I already knew of events I planned to attend during the other two weekends.
I arrived at the winery early Friday afternoon and found a relaxed atmosphere with people sitting outside sipping wine and chatting. Inside was a tasting table and some bread and cheese to munch.
The winery, which moved to Binyamina a few months ago, is nicely laid out and organized, with a tank room, a barrel room, a storage area for full cases of wine, and a large area where I imagine pressing, bottling, and other such activites take place. This is the area where the tastings were being poured.
One of the fellows pouring the wines gave me a bit of background. Apparently Margalit was the first boutique winery in Israel, established in 1989. Annual production is in the neighborhood of 20,000 bottles, though I understand this might increase with the planting of new vineyards.
When I asked why Margalit releases their wines so young, I was told that wine made from grapes grown in such warm climates do not benefit from barrel time in excess of 12 months. I know many winemakers who would beg to differ, but there’s no arguing with success; Margalit wines sell at a premium price, but they are always in demand.
Having said that, I’m afraid I have to report that the wines I tasted (with one notable exception) did not particularly appeal to me, being a bit too bitter and harsh for my taste. On the other hand, it is clear that these are finely crafted wines, and I believe that they are not intended for consumption now, but are meant to age in the bottle for several years first. This was confirmed by a number of people I spoke to, both at this event and elsewhere, who have experience drinking Margalit wines from older vintages. Unfortunately, (a) I lack the experience to evaluate the long term future potential of a wine based on tasting it now, and (b) my budget does not allow me to buy now and find out in a few years if these are wines for me. It’s too bad there were no tastings of older vintages for comparison.
On to the wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Durif (Petite Syrah), and Cabernet Franc (93%, 4%, 1%, 2% respectively). The wine is quite fruity and medium to full bodied, with a medium finish. As I mentioned above, I found the bitterness a bit unpleasant, though I expect it will soften with time.
Cabernet Franc 2011, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot (91%, 6%, 3%). Even though the blend is completely different, I found the character of this wine to be similar to the Cabernet Sauvignon, though it exhibited even more bitterness and the tanins were harsher.
Enigma 2011, a true Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot (48%, 40%, 10%, 2%), with the blending taking place after pressing and before fermentation. Of the three wines, this was my favorite. The flavors are nicely integrated with none being particularly pronounced or dominating.
While I was discussing my impressions with Noam, one of the fellows pouring the wine, he reached under the table and retrieved a “hidden” bottle from which he poured me a fourth tasting of what turned out to be Margalit’s flagship Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Durif). This wine is significantly more approachable now than the others, being very full bodied, but with softer, more integrated tanins. This is wine I would buy if I was in a different tax bracket, and I thank Noam and the Margalit Winery for allowing me to sample it.