Flogging Israeli Reds With Pelter, T-Selection, Cabernet Franc, 2004

"...May impress once or twice with consistent craft... then it won't". *

Don't get me wrong, I like Tal Pelter's wines and this is a very good one, but, good as it is, it exhibitsthe usual faults of Israeli reds. Here it is, folks, the futility of scoring wines if you approach wines with love instead of professionalism because it probably merits something close to a 90, objectively.


Though it boasts (I abhor Parker's excessive use of the word but it is very appropiate here) a powerful, long, iron, minerally finish and a fine structure backed by crisp tannins, everything up to that is just the same old scene. Ripe fruit and chocolate on the nose followed by a sweetish attack. It is mellowed by spices but even these somehow seem as though they came from the same local cookbook: a bit of this, a pinch of that, yadda yadda yadda. What the hell about this wine makes it that different from a Cabernet Sauvignon? It seems fairly ready now and though time might mellow it, there's little in there to make me me think that in a couple of years I'll be eating crow.

* Robert Christgau


Anonymous said…
Hi Chaim,

Usually I just read and don't comment since I'm unfamiliar with the wines. This time it's not the case.

First some details are missing, I assume you refer to the T-Selection CF, but which vintage?

I you were refering to the 04, I found it to have some varietal, green-ish character, in adition to what you describe. Although it was my favourite T-Selection at the launch, 4 months ago, I found all of them to need at least another year in the bottle to gain better balance and take some edge of the tannin (although some people prefer them sharp and chewy...).

2GrandCru said…
The T-Selection, Lior, though I noted the vintage in the post title.

The 2004 was released in early 2006. I didn't have any problems with the curent state of the tannins (I quite liked them as I noted) and didn't notice any green-ness. My problem was that it wasn't that different from other Israeli reds. I really had higher hopes for it and really it's quite good, just not enough to make me feel messianic about Israeli wines.
Anonymous said…
Sorry, didn't notice the vintage in the topic.

I was also mistaken (reading my own post too fast) regarding the vintage I tasted, all three were 2005 - at their release event this June (this would explain why I found the tannins to be a bit too sharp). None the less, I found the (05) wine to have some sort of character of it's own, when tasted next to it's T-selection brothers...

Unknown said…
I tasted this wine and have a similar general impression to what Chaim writes. Not so much a criticism aimed at Pelter, but a general observation: Israel makes some extremely good wines but all with a very similar broad style: CdG HarEl, Peter (Trio, T-selection), Flam Superiore, Recanati Syrah, etc. This might be a good thing for an consistent message to the overseas consumer. For me it means that I focus on these excellent wines for everyday drinking, particularly those offered at an attractive price (I like the Pelter Trio as much as the T-Selection series). I am probably still Messianic about Israeli wines because I think they should beat the Argentinian, Chilean, American etc. wines I found in London for GBP 10-15 easily.
2GrandCru said…
Well, Jan, I'd be thrilled if Israel beat Aregntine in football... but wine?

Joking aside, it's fashionable to talk about how good Israeli wines would be if they focused on South Rhone grapes so I'd like to cite an example from the region: Gigondas. I haven't tasted a lot but of Gigondas but what I did taste were 1) all from the same vintage so there's a valid base for comparison and 2) displayed a much wider diversity of styles and nuances within. And that's just one town in France, no matter how famous it is.

At the end of the day, my problem is this ever growing boredom with Israeli wines. As a famous Israeli artist once said in a lecture I attended years ago, the easier it is to describe a work of art, the less interesting it was in the first place.
Anonymous said…
Jan, regarding your examples:

Flam - I only had the lower series, but found them to have a distinctive smooth texture, and a light touch of sweetness I associate with the nice fruit extraction they achieve.

CdG Har'el - Again, I found some character there, with somewhat different oak influence that introduces spices quite different from other wines I've had.

Recanati does not produce Syrah as far as I know.

I like Pelter's chard, but as for the Trio and Shiraz-CS - I found them quite different on different occasions, and can only explain this by bottle variation. Some times they were really good, others... not.

More wineries with some house style to my opinion: Sea Horse, Tulip.

Maybe the accusation made here has some truth when discussing the big wineries, both at their high-end varietals and the bordeaux-style blends, although opposite examples are available here as well.