2017 Psagot Cabernet Franc

As I’ve written before, when wineries change winemakers there is often an internal conflict between giving the winemaker free reign to make wines as he/she sees fit and creating a wine that fits in with the profile of previous vintages of the same bottle – especially when the previous vintages have been successful. Often times a compromise is reached where the winemaker slowly migrates the wine to his own style little by little – easing loyal customers into the transition. IMHO, this is what is currently going on at Psagot. With the whites, where Psagot had IMHO only moderate success, Yaacov Oryah immediately left his mark producing top notch bottles with his clear signature relatively right out of the gate. On the red side though, Psagot has a huge following – especially overseas. In fact, where most Israeli wineries use a traditional model whereby 70-90% of their product is sold domestically, at Psagot, up to 70% is exported and sells very well.  So any changes to a winning formula are not to be taken lightly. This is especially true of their Cabernet Franc which through 2010 was in the top 2 Israeli produced single-varietal Cabernet Francs – the other being from Ella Valley. The 2011 vintage though was a disaster with 2012 only marginally better. ’13 and ’14 we, while not bad, they were sort of generic. Really nothing special to run out and stock up on – and  I never got around to tasting the ’16 .

With the 2017 Cabernet Franc,  I would say this is the first of the Psagot reds to have a distinctly different profile than previous vintages – and quality-wise pushes itself back in the right direction towards its former glory days. I first tasted this blind right after it had been bottled back in March at the tail end of a crazy white & rose tasting. Thought it was very nice then, it was like wine 64 or 65  of the night  – and I really couldn’t spend any significant time with it.  And in all honesty my palate was shot. So when I I saw that it had finally hit the shelves, I decided to buy a couple and try.   Caution though – his wine is YOUNG and really could use a lot of air right now and probably for the next year. If you want be adventurous like me, have patience (or a vinturi handy). I tasted after a couple of hours in a decanter.

Clocking in at a nice restrained 13.5% alcohol, this light to medium bodied wine presents far more old world than any of its predecessors.  Some beautiful dried herbs on the nose. In the mouth more of the dried toasted herbs, some nice earthiness, dark plum and tobacco  with silky soft tannin and medium acidity. With a little more air, a bit more of the fruit showed (raspberry though very restrained)  and also some pencil – all perfectly in balance with a hint more acidity shinning through too.

As noted above, the wine is not really there yet, but it’s worth laying down a couple for a year and revisiting. I have high hopes.

Bottom Line:

  • Price: NIS 70
  • For Aging: Probably not long term, but will likely improve over the next year or 2 and then hold for a couple of more
  • Would I Buy Again: Yes
  • QPR Rating: Average
  • Taste/Depth/Quality: Nice
  • Overall Rating  (1-5): 3.5

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