Recanati – Reserve Wild Carignan 2015

It was 2014 and I was dining in Tel Aviv, bearing witness to a night that wore on with seemingly countless bottles emerging. Despite all that had come before, it took just one, a Carignan by well-regarded Israeli producer, Recanati to make one of my fellow dinner companions go ballistic in my general direction. “Oh look, Carignan. Fucking Carignan! For the last week I’ve just heard you talking about fucking Carignan. Now you have it so I hope you’re happy!” None of this was said with the least bit of irony as after having spent the previous week with three other people touring the wine regions of Israeli, apparently I’d asked about Carignan one too many times for him to keep his annoyance to himself. Equally, I would have loved it if he’d have shut up about his “genius” kids for five minutes as well so I suppose we all left hating each other a bit more than we’d started.

As anyone has probably noted, my admiration for the Carignan grape is not subtle as I find it delicious to nearly a point of addiction yet it’s the recipient of much misplaced scorn. Israel has some ancient vineyards of the grape still hanging around as they, much like those in Spain and France, were planted back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries purely to get massive production. What they ultimately got were a great many pretty crappy wines due to how much the grape can overproduce. What vineyards were left have managed to age with a great deal of grace to the point where there are low-producing vines giving nuanced grapes with the potential of making fine wines.

I don’t know how many of these very ancient vineyards might still be around but Recanati snapped up one of the older fellows to craft a varietal wine from it, although these vines are a “mere” 50 years not. Regardless, the end result is a damned fine wine and this ’15 is much better than what I remember the ’11 being when I last tasted it during the venting session in Tel Aviv. It also goes a long way to confirm that Carignan, as well as Grenache are grapes that Israeli winemakers should be making more use of. Sure the Cab Sauv and others have been fine but I constantly feel like they’re hitting a wall in terms of what they can do and they’re never going to get over said wall by relying on what are grapes much more suited to moderate climates.

Reserve Wild Carignan 2015
Dark ruby. Dark plum and cherry, licorice, anise, bit of mossy earthiness, cured lemon peel, nutmeg, baking spice. Medium acidity, wealth of tannic structure on the palate but doesn’t drag. Holds the alcohol in check well, albeit with a little prick in the finish, and has a very long finish. Not cheap but definitely exciting.
100% Carignan 14% 30€
** 91


Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
95 3 Stars

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
94 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
93 2 Stars

AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
93 2 Stars

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
93+ 3 Stars

Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR
92 2 Stars