Harry, folks, shavua tov!
As aperitif Thursday night (sushi for dinner, wouldn't have been a great pairing in this case IMHO...) :
Binyamina, The Cave 2008: Very dark- almost impenetrable garnet towards purple, full-bodied with on the nose ripe dark fruit, vanilla and hints of anise, this layered Bordeaux-blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot aged 24 months in french oak barrels comes first on the palate with rich and ripe blackcurrants and blackberries, then moves on to mediterranean spices with cloves and black pepper, again blackberries, tar, fine cigar and vanilla with bracing acidity and somewhat still searing tannins on a long and mouth-filling finish.
Having not yet had the luck (I don't know if I ever will) to taste the Old Vines 2007, this is by far the best 'regular version' Cave ever, really delightful.
That being said, I used to be regularly disappointed with The Cave wines until the '06-'07 vintage. I thought then that it was overpriced and somewhat too light (to be completely honest, the Petit Castel 2009 tastes a bit like The Cave 2005, lacking some body and depth for my personal taste). The wine was decanted for over 2 hours and still felt like it wasn't completely opened up so I'd recommend to cellar it for a few more years and if stored well should keep probably till 2017-18.
Tzora, Judean Hills 2009: Dark garnet with purple reflections at the rim, almost full-bodied with on the nose and palate forest fruits and a tiny hint of smoked meat and wet dirt, on the mid-palate black and red currants as well as blackberries, good minerality, acidity and tannins with mediterranean herbs and some dark chocolate on a moderately long finish. Nice, a solid wine from a great winery.
Oh! I almost left this one out:
Hararey Kedem, Shoham Merlot 2006: This is a winery that I had never heard about before, someone offered that bottle to my host but when I looked at the back label I found out my friend's name on it, Dr Ilane Abitbol. Ilane has a Phd in neurosciences as well as a diploma in enology and has worked as a freelance winemaker for several wineries around the globe and with many in Israel, Teperberg being the largest coming to mind right now. He now teaches winemaking courses at the Ben Gurion University of Beer Sheva among other things.
Anyway the wine was obviously over the hill, browning with an oxidized caramel-ish nose and that's really too bad as 2006 has produced in Israel some fantastic Merlots (Yarden Odem, Binyamina Reserve...). This wine won a silver award at the Eshkol Hazahav competition in 2008 and while I hold usually little respect for such contests, I could taste still some hints of raspberry and chocolate leading me to think that this one used to be probably a nice wine 2 years ago or so.
Lueria, Gewurztraminer 2011: Again, 2nd week in a row with this delicious and refreshing off-dry wine. Greatly appreciated to try and forget the 95F outdoors today in Jerusalem.
I miss SoCal and Switzerland these days...