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Domaine du Castel – A Look at This Year’s Releases

305x180_0001_grandvinWe discovered Domaine du Castel last year at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, and just loved the wines.  We were also incredibly surprised, never having tried any top end wines from Israel before.  They are fabulous.  If you’d like to read more about our first impressions you can read our article by clicking here.  Their wine made it into our Top 25 Wines of the Year list for 2016 as well, which you can read here.  It seemed appropriate to follow up with them, taste the current releases, and report back on whether we had stumbled onto an unusually good year, or just a world class winery.  We certainly had an opinion already, but a little more data never hurts.

We got in touch with the winery and have the latest vintages available for review.  These include the 2015 Grand Vin and Petit Castel, as well as the 2016 “C” Blanc du Castel.  Let’s take a look.

2015 Petit Castel – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec,  the wine is typically aged inIMG_1287 mostly new, French Oak for 12 months, followed by 4 months in concrete tanks prior to bottling.   This is truly in the style of top end Bordeaux, and checks in at 14.5% alcohol.  Think of it as the baby brother of the wine below, or the equivalent of a second wine from a Bordeaux Chateau.  Our impression:

The color is a deep ruby, and blackberry, currant, oak and some herbal notes come through to the nose.  On the palate the wine is just shy of full bodied.  Lots of berry fruit takes center stage, with firm tannins that build toward the back.  A little cherry hits the finish.  Nice balance and good length make for an enjoyable wine.  Retails about $32.

2015 Grand Vin – We loved the previous vintage, 2014, placing it at #14 in our Top 25 Wines of 2016.  The blend is similar to the IMG_1310Petite Castel above, with the exception of the Malbec.  That does not make an appearance here.  It’s a fairly big wine at 15% alcohol.  This sees more time in barrel as well, aging for 16 months before another four in concrete.  What did we think?

The color is deeply hued, ruby red.  The nose is blackberry, currant, spice, herbs, oak and a touch of leather.  This has a rich palate, driven by the fruit and framed by complex nuances.  It is quite tannic right now, and just a baby.  It is also pretty great, and the fruit core is just beautiful.  I would decant for an hour before serving.  This will last many years, and will get better still.  An outstanding wine, likely to make the Top 25 list for 2017 coming out soon, and possibly showing even higher than last year.  Retail around $55.

2016 “C” Blanc du Castel – This is 100% Chardonnay, fermented in French oak and pretty traditional in style.  It sits for a year before bottling.  TheIMG_1368 2015 version of this was absolutely wonderful, and one of my favorite Chardonnays in quite a while.  Let’s see what 2016 brings to this wine:

Another big nose of fruit here, and a very ripe, tropical fruit.  I also get some apricot and anise.  The palate mirrors the nose pretty closely, and the fruit is more intense than last year.  If you like a smoother style the 2015 is your wine.  If you like a bit more presence then you will prefer this.  Well made, as all of Eli Ben Zaken’s wines are.  Retail about $35.

After a tasting a second vintage we can confidently say that the wines from Domaine du Castel are outstanding.  We really didn’t have many doubts to begin with.  The 2015 Grand Vin is definitely world class, and well worth the price.

Try some wines from Israel, and be surprised.

A votre santé!

 

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