Tasting the 2011 Rosé From Castel Winery

This article might better be entitled, “The Best Rosé I Have Ever Tasted.” Castel Winery has come up with another winning wine. Eli BenZaken has blended three grape varieties, including Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, harvested them early, and removed the fermenting liquid from the skins to allow the delightful pink color of this wine to shine through. When the grapes are harvested is one of the most crucial decisions in the wine making process. Unripe grapes that pucker your mouth when you taste them are high in acids and low in sugars. The “must weight” of a grape is its sugar content and is measured in the vineyard by a small instrument called a refractometer. There is even a specific term, “veraison,” which means the ripening of the grape after growth of the size of the grape. It is this period that is so crucial as it is when the acids of the grape decrease and the sugars increase. This relationship of sugar to acid is one of the main determinants of the aroma and taste of the wine. They are variable during the maturation of the grapes and fixed after the harvest.

Rosé wines were once looked down upon by wine lovers, but in recent years, they have returned to a position of respect. This is especially true of Rosé wines as this one by Castel which are produced by removal of the skins of the red grapes after only a few days of fermentation. This does not give the skins the time they need to impart their red color to the wine, and thus the final product has its typical pink color. Another method used is to remove the pink juice of the fermenting red grapes in order to make the color and tanins more concentrated in the resultant red wine. This is called “bleeding” the wine and the pink juice is fermented to rosé wine. The least respected method of production is to mix red wine with white wine.

Castel’s Rosé was recently tasted at a wine festival in New York and many have referred to is as the “Best in Show.” Here are some comments from the popular wine forum, WineLovers Discussion Group: “Complexity and concentration that belies it obvious youth,” and “amazing nose – I could just sit there and smell the wine for hours,” and “I didn’t think I’d be into Rose but wow was this a treat. Can’t wait to have it again.” We agree with everything said. We tasted it at the winery with Ruth who is in charge of Castel Winery Customer Service. There, and at home the next night when we drank it with dinner, its aroma burst forth from the wine glass as all the fresh flowers and fresh fruits in the world. It had brilliant overtones of melon and mint. It was light and smooth in the mouth with a taste of strawberries and ripe melon freshly picked from the field on a hot summer day. And there was a nice lingering finish which was light and sparkly with showers of pastel colors.

It readily deserves the israelwinetaster grade of A+ despite its high-end price, typical of the winery, where it sells for 89 shekels/bottle (case price), which converts to $23.50 at the present conversion rate. I have seen it priced at about $35 in the U.S. You will have to determine for yourself if it is a high enough quality for the price. We will be tasting and writing about some other Rosé wines in the near future now that spring and summer are upon us.

We wish you wonderful wine tasting and drinking in this warm season. L’Chaim.

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