I Love Reviewing Fine Wine – Revisiting A Merlot From Galilee, Israel

A couple of years ago we reviewed our first Israeli Merlot in our $15 wine column. This wine¬† increased in price and has a new label. It remains Kosher for Passover. Over 120 years ago Baron Rothschild got people to plant wine grapes in this area near Mount Tabor the Galilee region of northern Israel. Since 1999 local growers have been producing their own wine. And a few years later their volume exceeded 300 thousand bottles a year. If you are in the neighborhood stop by their visitor center with its lovely Middle Eastern architecture. In addition to a winery tour, you can visit their marzipan museum. They can probably tell you which wine pairs with marzipan. Remember that everything here is closed on Saturday. Today’s companion wine is a northern Italian Merlot costing less than half, ounce for ounce.

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

Wine Reviewed Tabor Galil Merlot KP 2012 14.3 % alcohol about $18.

In the absence of current marketing materials and an unexpressive back label let’s start by quoting the marketing materials for the 2009 vintage.”Tasting Note: Founded more than 100 years ago, belonging to a village vineyard started by the Baron de Rothschild of Lafite fame, the Tabor winery has played a long and important role in the history of Israeli wine. This 2009 Merlot delivers well above its price point. There is tremendous structure and balance here. Medium-full bodied, silky, and with a lovely soft texture, it presents nice complexity with delicious notes of plum, spice, cedar, black fruits, and pepper. Try it with beef tacos for something deliciously different. (VINTAGES panel, Sept. 2010).” And now for my review.

At the first sips the wine came out mouth filling and fairly long. This libation was rather well balanced. Fiery Wasabi peas intensified the liquid. The initial meal centered on chili made with spicy salsa over brown rice. Our Israeli friend was long and very plummy, dark plums. It displayed good acidity and light tannins. Zesty guacamole almost muted the wine, which remained long. When paired with homemade candy based on chia, sesame, and sunflower seeds, almonds, dried prunes, and apricots, this liquid did not have much left, just some cherries and acidity.

The second meal focused on homemade chicken breast nuggets. Now my glass’s contents were dark, offering me some chocolate, mint, and tobacco. Roasted eggplant in its skin brimming with garlic rendered the contents of my glass somewhat sweet. Upon pairing with cookies made from sesame seeds and sunflower seeds my drink was gutted; there was just a tinge of unpleasant acidity.

The final meal centered on roasted salmon whose marinade included cumin, black pepper, garlic, vegetable soya, and a bit of agave sauce. Now the Merlot offered dark chocolate and weak acidity. The side dish of green beans swimming in a tomato, cumin, and onion sauce picked up the libation but there was no fruit. Dessert was fruit juice candy that imparted to the liquid a tinge of metal. The drink was dark but unidimensional.

Final verdict. I bought this wine again. The good pairings were really quite good. I don’t plan to pair it with fish again. Tradition. Tradition.

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