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Recanati Wild Carignan Reserve 2016

Recanati Wild Carignan Reserve 2016

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"The 2016 Wild Carignan Reserve was aged for ten months in 50% new French oak and comes in at 14% alcohol. In a theoretical sense—not every year—this is my personal favorite of Recanati's lineup, for the combination of style and quality. This seems like a pretty fine year for it. As surprisingly lush as the Marselan was this issue, this adds a layer of depth and goes one step further. The texture runs from silk to velvet and makes this very sensual at the outset. There is plenty of flavor, some raspberries supported by acidity, all finishing very dry. The fine structure supports the fruit beautifully. You can drink this right now, but give it a year or so in the cellar to pull in the wood better if you can. Drink: 2018-2029. 91 points

Recanati this issue continues its march for diversity, showing off a Bittuni, another indigenous grape like Marawi (sourced, in fact, from the same Palestinian farmer). In addition, the winery has Carignan and Marselan, a decided step away overall from the traditional Israeli mindset of Cabernet/Merlot/Chardonnay. To be sure, Carignan is becoming popular in Israel, with its pockets of relatively old vines, and there are some rather nice ones. Recanati's is certainly a key flagship for it, though. The landscape is changing overall in Israel, with the addition of Syrah and other similar grapes gaining more prominence, but you'd certainly have to call Recanati one of the leaders in experimentation and diversification. Lenny Recanati said to me: "Why make Bordeaux-style wines in Israel when we can buy them cheaper in France? That's why we're doing what we're doing."

Bittuni and Marawi are, in case you are wondering, genuinely unique. It wouldn't be the first time that a winery thought it had a different grape when it didn't. Winemaker Gil Shatsberg told me that the winery "ran DNA fingerprinting on both, using the DNA bank in the university of Milan to confirm that we do have a unique variety here."

The whites at Recanati tend not to be quite as interesting to me as the reds, but they are good. The new pink is exciting if you like acidity (although it lacks some concentration). The reds showed well, although the upper level tends to be pricey. Note: The lovely 2015 Special Reserve red will not be imported into the USA because, said the importer, "2015 is a shmita year; it is challenging to sell in the US." It is only the latest example of how Israel's largely kosher output has additional hurdles to jump in the general marketplace and how the basic concept holds back the wine industry."

Mark Squires, Wine Advocate (237)