Three Rose wines made from Cabernet Franc – drink or not?

This past weekend I had the chance to drink a pair of rose wines based off the affable and approachable Cabernet Franc grape. Of the three wines in this post, fortunately or unfortunately (depending upon your opinion) only one is available here in the US.  The third wine is a tasting note from my trip to Israel last year. The three wines are the; 2010 Flam Rose (a wine we enjoyed at the winery and at the 2012 IFWF and bought at the winery in Israel),  2010 Eden Wild Rose (bought in Israel), and the 2010

I have a serious soft spot and love affair with all things Cabernet Franc and was more than excited to share my two prize bottles of rose with an entire table of guests. Unfortunately, that was where all the excitement ended and where reality set in. I first tasted the 2010 Kadesh Barnea Rose in November of last year, at the Sommelier event in Israel, and I thought it was a nice and accessible wine, but did not think it was worthy of a major mention. However, as I found more of these Cabernet Franc based rose wines, I thought it was worthy of noting that the grape is fine for red, but not that memorable for rose.

I next tasted the 2010 Flam Rose at the winery this year and it was lovely, bright, and mineral based, which really helped to add excitement and pull it up from the normal quaff-able status that rose wines receive by default. We next tasted it again at the 2012 Herzog IFWF, and again the wine showed well. However, around the table this past week, the wine was showing a bit weaker and without the acid punch and deep minerality that separated this rose from the pack. It was still the clear winner of the three, but to be fair, would you call a 5 foot person on an island of 4 foot people a giant?

The first and only time that I tasted the 2010 Eden Wild Rose was this past weekend at my house, and while it had some captivating notes and flavors, it too lacked the punch to bring it all together, and let alone be drinkable with food.

I had never heard of the Eden winery, until my friend Gabriel Geller, owner and managing partner at the Wine Mill store in Jerusalem, told me about him and sold me a bottle. Personally, I loved the original aromas from the wine, but I REALLY must thank Gabriel for also selling me a bottle of the 2009 Eden Wild Red, a blend of Cabernet and Merlot, which was fantastic and extremely unique!

The Eden Winery is another of the truly boutique and garagistes wineries that are popping up all over Israel, allowing for some unique innovations and tweaks that are really important in Israel’s still nascent wine industry. The Eden Winery produces some 3000 bottles of wines a year, and is owned and run by a young winemaker Eyal Elipaz, who graduated from Adelaide in Australia.
I look forward to watching the evolution of this winery over time and I hope to get the chance to taste more of his handiwork in the future. Kudos on the Eden Wild Red, which I will post on soon and thanks again to Gabriel for giving me the chance to taste his wines!

Drink or not to drink

Getting back to the topic on hand: Cabernet Franc based rose wines, is the focus of our weekly segment – drink or not to drink? I can see the appeal of using Cabernet Franc as the base grape for a rose, given the grape’s unique floral/green notes and aromas. However, Cabernet Franc started off, and continues to be, a blending grape for a reason! While it adds lovely floral and green notes, it lacks body and texture unless given time to extract its phenolic qualities from its skins. Of course, Rose wines are just the opposite, the must rarely sit long on the skins, allowing for juice to pick up some of the red color and some of the base juice’s aromas and flavors. However, it does not give the Franc grape much time to really get at the core of its phenolic abilities and therefore, the resulting wine can lack in anything that grabs your attention.

Rose wines are normally produced in one of two manners; Saignee or Quick maceration. The most common manner to make rose wine is through the process called Saignee, which in French (in its noun form) literally means bleeding or bloodletting, pronounced ‘sonyay’. The process involves bleeding off the juice of another wine, thereby concentrating the original “mother” wine, while also creating a by-product that is light in color and sometimes light in flavor, though if done correctly can be quite exquisite. The mother wine now has less juice macerating on its skins, and other parts thrown in the mix, increasing the surface area to peel extraction ratio. This can be taken to an extreme and ruin the mother, but if done correctly, it can be more concentrated and rich thereby creating two wines that may well be better than the original.

The other classic approach is to not bleed off the liquid but to still do a short maceration. This way, the Rose is the primary product and there is no mother. The difference between simply macerating the wine and removing the must and saigneé is that the wine left after the bleed-off is oftentimes still being made into a more concentrated red wine, and the rosé is a byproduct, often sold cheap (or was until rosé prices started to rise).

In either case, the rose wine (whether primary or bled) is produced with minimum skin contact. Black-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period, typically one to three days. Then the Rose wine must (if not using saigneé), is pressed, and the skins are discarded rather than left in contact throughout fermentation (as with red wine making). The skins contain much of the phenolic that make for tannic and astringent, yet lovely wine, by removing them, you are left with a structure more similar to a white wine. The longer that the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the color of the final wine.

Once the must is separated from its peels or is leeched from its peels via saigneé, the wine is allowed to ferment like white wine, either in oak or in steel.

I do not know which method was used in the three wines that I tasted, but it was clear that some sort of oak was used in two of them, as they had toast notes, coffee notes, and/or chocolate notes, though the Flam seemed to have the no oak influence, and indeed, after checking, was fermented cold in steel to heighten the crisp flavors and left on its lees for three months.

The sad thing is that other than the Flam Rose, the other two wines were nice, but not something to write home about. The Kadesh Barnea Rose showed clear toast and espresso notes, that I would suppose came from oak influence, though one can never be sure with Rose, but it too, other than those notes left me wanting more. Finally, I would stay away from the 2011 Galil Rose, it was a fine enough wine by itself, when I tasted it a few months ago in Israel. Still, it did not cause me to jump out of my seat, which is really disheartening. Further, the Dalton Rose also did not catch my fancy, but I guess that is life in the world of Rose wines.

In the end I would suppose that the correct answer to this week’s topic would be – not to drink the wines I had. The wines themselves are OK enough, but given their price points, I do not see the need to drink these wines. There are so many better options, even in the summer, than these rose wines.

There are some nice Rose wines, but the real king of the kosher Rose market is clearly the recently released and very hard to find 2011 Domaine du Castel Rose. This is the second Rose that Eli Ben Zaken has produced, the first one being in 2009, and it may well be better than the 2009 vintage. The wine is crisp and laden with a bountiful crop of fruit, while still being ripe and mouth filling. It is a real shame that all of these wine cost the amount that they do and though they are unique and limited, does not mean it is worth hunting for when there are so many other and cheaper options out there. In the end, if you must have a Rose and then go with the Castel, if that is too hard to find go with the latest Recanati Rose you can find, as that is always a solid fallback option.

Finally, to make for a complete article I have also included notes from two more Rose wines, that are not available here in the US, but from the best of what I have tasted in the Rose kosher world. One is the 2010 Agur Rossa, which is a blend of Cabernet Franc and another fruit that I missed (I think Cabernet Sauvignon). The second one is the 2010 Domaine Netofa Rose, which is a blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Mourvedre (an SM blend). The notes follow below:

2010 Kadesh Barnea Rose – Score: B to B+
This rose is made of 100% Cabernet Franc. The nose nose explodes with toasty notes, fresh espresso coffee, ripe strawberry, raspberry, and nice floral notes. The mouth is balanced with good acidity, which is so important in a rose, but the rest of the mouth lacks anything to grab your attention, excepting for some cherry and plum. The finish is spicy with more toast, and a hint of bitter notes at the end.

2010 Domaine Netofa Rose – Score: B++
This wine is a blend of 65% Syrah juice and 35% Mourvedre (an SM blend). The grapes are unique in the construction of a Rose wine but the wine is as close as we get to solid in the Rose world, excepting for the Domaine du Castel masterpiece. The nose starts off with peach, lovely floral notes, and characteristics that are unique to the other wines from the Netofa winery, including quince, heavy rock and minerality. The mouth explodes with tight brightness and acid, and is followed by lovely strawberry, stone fruit, and lemon. The finish is long and spicy with hints of apple and nice spice. This is a unique rose because it does not try to be anything it is not. The wine is bright, mineral, fruity, and richly acidic – kudos!

2010 Agur Rossa – Score: B to B+
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc and another fruit that I missed (I think Cabernet Sauvignon or maybe Sauvignon Blanc which would make more sense given the kiwi flavors). The nose on this lovely peach to salmon colored wine is ripe with peach, rose petal, kiwi, and ripe plum. The mouth is rich and balanced with good acidity, watermelon, strawberry, and raspberry. The finish is long and salty with bright mineral notes, bitter almond pit, and more sea salt. The salt is a unique flavor and is light to medium in body, but still vibrant with nice minerality.

2011 Domaine du Castel Rose – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 60% Merlo,t 22% Malbec, and 18% Cabernet Franc. The wine is unique a real nice kosher rose that has more than just strawberry and nice fruit. This wine has complexity and concentration that belies it obvious youth. Clearly not a wine for cellaring but one that should be fine for a year or two, which is saying something for a kosher rose. The nose starts off with rich mineral, heavy attack of citrus, strawberry, raspberry, and nice cherry. The mouth is filling with good mineral, slate, bramble, and ripe red fruit.

2010 Flam Rose – Score: B+
This is one of three rose wines made in Israel that use 100% Cabernet Franc juice. Where we did not find much to get excited about with the Eden Rose, this rose was nice, but seems to have lost a bit of steam from the last time we enjoyed it at the winery and at the Herzog IFWF. The nose on this salmon colored rose is rich and floral with lovely violet notes, nice mineral, strawberry, mint, ripe raspberry, and lemon. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows lemon fraiche and lovely tart acidity. The finish is medium-long with enough bite to get your attention, citrus zest, and strawberry sherbert. While this was a nice rose, it too lacked the ability to stand up to hot summer taste buds and most food which was disappointing. I think the wine is starting to go under and should be consumed now.

2010 Eden Wild Rose – Score: B to B+
This is one of three rose wines made in Israel that use 100% Cabernet Franc juice. There really is very little I can say positive about this wine other than it is a solid quaffer and that is about it, excepting for a singular unique note and flavor which is chocolate covered strawberries. The flavor is lovely and unique but man or wine cannot live on that alone. The nose on this lovely rose colored wine does start off with a unique chocolate covered strawberry note, followed by nice floral notes, pear, raspberry, and dark cherry. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine has hints of peach, lemon, grapefruit, and red fruit, but in a muddled fruit kind of way. The finish is average and overall does little to grab your attention with pineapple, toasted notes, and a slight lingering of lemon zest.

Posted on July 20, 2012, in Israeli Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m very happy you liked the Eden Wild Red! But the Eden Rosé 2010 was very good until 3-4 months ago it has then brutally fallen off the cliff and same with the Netofa ’10 and Kadesh Barnea. The Netofa Rosé 2011 is great and IMHO second to the Castel with the Flam ’11 being the third one on the podium.

  1. Pingback: Three kosher red wines that hit the spot! « Wine Musings Blog

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