Judean winery Barkan experiments, with delicious results.
One of the more difficult aspects of winemaking is creating a blend. It requires the ability to predict how a very young wine will evolve, as well as knowing which additional varietals will enhance the finished product. Since the bottle might not be ready to drink for years after the vintage is harvested, a finely crafted blended wine is a true testimony to a winemaker’s skill and experience.
Strict rules abound in many winemaking regions regarding which varietals of grapes can be grown where, as well as, in some instances, which varietals can be blended together. The grapes grown in France’s Bordeaux region are blended to create some of the world’s most desirable—and expensive—wines. But a blended wine does not necessarily imply a quality wine: Burgundies are made from a single grape, and also command both respect and high prices.
There are a few more liberal winemaking regions in the world, places where winemakers are limited by only the quality of the grapes and their access to technology. In Australia, the U.S. and Israel, these winemakers are free to choose to mix whichever varietals they choose. Some producers attempt to recreate some of the classic flavor profiles found in Europe, while others allow their creativity free reign and develop remarkably unique compositions.
The markedly floral Barkan Assemblage Tzafit 2010 is blends two unusual grapes, Marselan and Caladoc, adding dashes of the better known Pinotage and Carignan. This red tastes of dark fruit, savory spices, raspberry, anise, and tobacco that linger on the finish. Marselan is a relatively new varietal, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, while Caladoc is derived from Grenache and Malbec. The resulting blend is an attention-grabbing display of inventiveness that speaks well to the growing confidence of Israeli winemaking.