Sooner or later, everything old is new again.Stephen King
In 2015 after 23 years operating in their original location in Ramat Raziel, Castel opened its new larger facility in Yad HaShmona. Besides providing greater capacity, the new winery provided state of the art technology to aid in creating some truly excellent wines. It also created an opportunity. At Ramat Raziel, Castel had a perfectly good functioning winery. Rather than decommission the older facility, the winery in Ramat Raziel was repurposed as an experimental winery for the Ben-Zaken family to try new things. This eponymous wine is the first commercial product out of the Razi’el Winery.
While the main wines of Castel are Bordeaux blends, this wine is a more Rhone in composition, though not 100% in style. The wine is a blend of Syrah and Carignan and clocks in at 14.5% abv. The wine presents darker than any Castel wine I have tasted to date both on the nose and in the mouth – and that makes sense, based on the varietals in play. On the nose, you have black fruit, mineral, soil, and some charcoal at the end. In the mouth, the wine is very rich and ripe without a doubt but stays just shy of going over the line with ripe blackberry, black plum, tar, and some roasted meat. The wine has a medium amount of acidity and powdery tannin that is already fairly well integrated. There is a core here that is solid without being astringent. The finish is long with a fair amount of toasted herbs and spice.
I really enjoyed this bottle overall. Basically, this is an elegant new world expression of a Rhone style blend. The one issue I have is price. As an initial release on a bottle that they clearly want to keep as a distinct brand, I would have expected this wine to sell for NIS 100- 120. While I think the wine may have potential to develop – we will only know that for sure in a few years. In terms of drinking window, as I noted, this is absolutely enjoyable now and I actually think this can hold a good five years and maybe longer. But really, both in terms of its ability to hold or develop further, there is simply no track record and it’s all a crapshoot. Still, I’m willing to give the Ben-Zaken’s the benefit of the doubt for now, and I’ll likely buy a couple of bottles to see how they go over the next couple of years.
- Price: NIS 150
- For Aging: Probably but also enjoyable on the younger side.
- Would I Buy Again: Yes
- QPR Rating: Average-
- Taste/Depth/Quality: Very Good
- Overall Rating (1-5): 3.5 (at NIS 100, this would have been a 4)