A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me a complicated question. Not that it was difficult to answer, but rather because I took the information for granted. The question was “Which Grapes make the best wines?” Most people will give an off-the-cuff answer of Cabernet, Merlot, or Shiraz. However, this is very uninformative as there are bad Cabernets and bad Merlots. Like all questions on wine, the truest answer depends entirely on the person asking the question. Since we all like different things, the answer will be different for everyone reading this article.
However, there are some accepted-as-fact assumptions that we can work with to give a general answer.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular dry red wine grape in use today. While there are differences in every climate in the world, for the most part, the flavor profile stays consistent. It is known for it’s cherry fruit, and complex tannins, Most everything else beyond that, is subject to the wine maker’s treatment of the juice, including fermentation, oak aging, and any other factor you can think of.
This “Wine maker’s” personal touch is the second most important factor that will allow enjoying, or not enjoying a wine. What’s the first factor, you may ask? The fruit itself!
Every wine maker will tell you, even the most arrogant ones, that without great grapes, you can’t make great wine. Thank G-d, Israel is blessed with fantastic grape growing potential on a nation wide level. We have grapes growing in the Golan Heights all the way down to the Negev in Arad, and beyond.
That being said, certain regions seem to grow grapes different versions of the same grape. Examples of this are Har Bracha Cabernet Sauvignon verse Golan Heights Cabernet Sauvignon. The Har Bracha Cabernets tend to have a higher acidity content then those grown in the Golan. This often allows for a more intense textural experience, while the Golan Cabernet will allow for a fruitier experience. Another example is Merlot. For some reason, the Merlot’s coming from wineries along Route 60, like Shiloh and Gvaot, tend to have a much more intense flavor than those grown anywhere else in the country.
As for which one of any of these is better, only you can answer. While I can give you my opinion, it does not mean it will be yours. The only way to find out what you like best is to go into a wine shop and ask. The store owner will (hopefully) recommend things based on your answers to two questions:
1) What kind of wines have you tried in the past and liked, or disliked? This will give him a starting point of your pallat as to what you like and don’t like. 2) How much did you plan to spend on the bottle?
Don’t worry about answering the question truthfully. If you want a world-class wine and you tell him “39 nis”, expect to be given a 39 nis bottle and not a world-class wine. This works vice versa as well. If you want a 39 nis bottle, tell him so. This way, he knows how best to help you. If you don’t think he is having your best interest at heart, tell him so and feel free to walk out. He will learn for the next customer.
Or you can feel free to contact me.
May all your bottles be good ones,