You might find this hard to believe, but a wine critic’s job can be tough at times. For example, tasting a big Cabernet Sauvignon for potential review in the heat of late August is not exactly refreshing. Fortunately, this time, the effort paid off.
The wine was the 2014 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon from Israel’s Golan Heights Winery in Galilee, which, at around $30, offers significant value and can compete with many Cabernets from California in this price range.
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Though it’s a product of the ancient world, the wine has a decidedly New World character — big, bold fruit, a good deal of oak, and fairly high alcohol, listed at 14.5 percent on the label. If you like this style, Yarden’s Cab should be considered as an accompaniment for grilled meats, especially beef and lamb, as well as chicken and hearty stews.
Its concentrated fruit shows on the nose, with aromas of cassis, leather, and unsweetened chocolate. In the mouth, there’s a nice brambly quality to the dark-berry fruit and plum notes, with a mocha touch on the finish. I could use just a little less of the oak influence, but again, this is a matter of taste.
The relatively cool-climate Golan Heights region in Galilee in Israel’s north produces many of the country’s top wines. Yarden’s Cabernet is kosher, meaning that the handling of the grapes and production of the wine are restricted to observant Jews. (However, as stated on its label, the wine is not “mevushal,” meaning that it has not undergone a more extreme kosher method that uses flash pasteurization.)
Technicalities aside, this is a satisfying, well-priced Cabernet Sauvignon that over-delivers on quality and value and is widely available. Yarden also produces a delicious Gewürztraminer with beautiful balance between the fruit and the floral, spicy character of that white variety.