I Love Fine Wine – A Dalton Merlot From Israel

Quite recently I reviewed an upscale Israeli Chardonnay, which wasn’t Kosher. Now I am changing the grape color, changing the price range, and changing the wine’s Kosher status while keeping its country of production. The Dalton winery was established in 1995. They went very quickly from 20, 000 to 800, 000 bottles a year. The vineyard is located about 800-900 meters (more than 2500 feet) above sea level on a volcanic plateau. The tasting room is open six days a week and the winery’s web site has lots of interesting links. Today’s companion wine is a Chilean wine at less that half the price.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review were purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Dalton Winery Safsufa Vineyards Merlot KPM 2010 14.5% alcohol about $22.

There were no marketing materials so let’s start with the back label. “From a selection of our finest vineyards, this Merlot is a soft smooth wine with a deep purple color and a vibrant bouquet of cherries and homemade jam. The nose is further balanced by spicy shades of vanilla and turmeric. Serve at 16-18 degrees C (about 61-64.5 degrees F).” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine offered plums and some metal. It provided a good balance of acidity and tannins. When paired with crunchy coated Cuban-style peanuts the liquid lengthened. Its acidity stepped up without overdoing it. The meal’s centerpiece, a barbecued chicken leg, rendered the wine long. I sensed some metal and good, really grease-cutting, acidity in my glass. In the face of fried rice the Merlot was dark and mouth filling, dark and long. Dessert was a square or two of Praline filled Bitter-Sweet Swiss chocolate, which rendered out Israeli friend round and dark.

The next meal consisted of boxed pancakes that contained spinach, potatoes, onions, and spices. In response the libation was mouth filling with great balance and great fruit. When I added generous dollops of 10% yoghurt (none of that thin 0% stuff for me) the only difference in this drink was its increased acidity. Chocolate mints rendered the Dalton minty and refreshing. Then came fresh blackberries. Now the wine was long and woody with both fine tannins and acidity.

The final meal also came out of a box. It was a shepherd’s pie. In response the liquid was metallic and excessively sweet. Zesty guacamole attempted to cut the sugar and I tasted bits of black cherries in my glass. Generous amounts of Chinese hot sauce on the pie diminished the wine’s sugar, but not as much as I would have liked.

Final verdict. I always thought that Daltons wines were a good buy. Note the use of the past tense. This wine was no better than their $15 offerings.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his Italian wine website www.theitalianwineconnection.com .

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