At the high end, d'Arenberg makes polished wines with finely tuned tannins and though I find a certain roughness about them, and what I suspect to be tampered acidity, they have a reined-in, savoury structure. The winery's calling card is an explicitly "me-too" range of labels, thus their portfolio is based on proprietary versions of Old World appellations: Bordeaux, Rhone, Port, and even Bandol. One can enjoy or mock this approach but at any rate it seems to be how the winery markets itself. And now this, a Tempranillo-Grenache-Souzao blend, which took me an hour to figure out is supposed to be a Priorat look-alike with the Souzao, a Portugese varietal, thrown in for good measure - or is that a red herring?
The Grenache overwhelms the wine at first, betraying the lollipop fruitiness of the d'Arenberg Custodian (a 100% Grenache and a wine I used to be, alas, fonder of), though I sense the tobacco leaf signature of the Temranillo underneath and hopefully a few years in the cellar will coax it out as well as smooth and soothe the burning acidity. Its trump card is a near-sweet yet saline finish and that's good enough for me right now.
Had lunch last week at Tike, a Turkish restaurant in Hertzeliya Pituach (quite nice but not the best value in business lunch deals for the hi-tech working man), and I must say it's got a surprisingly extensive and versatile wine list, compiling not only the best of Israel but quite a lot of Old World classics, and purchased from at least three different importers. Which means it's no wine bar but someone worked harder at the wine menu than I'd have expected from, let me be quite un-politic, a Turkish restaurant. Prieur-Lichine is quite an original notion around these parts yet I have to wonder how many of its target clientele is going to have it with donner kebab.