Just as last week, because so few were available, we have not tried to review a $10 Kosher wine. So this week's review has no teammate. The Tulip winery is situated near Nazareth, Israel. Unlike any other winery that I am familiar with, they have made a commitment to hiring the mentally disabled. This particular wine comes from a vineyard on the edge of the Carmel Mountains, overlooking the Jezreel Valley. The winery was established in 2003 and now handles about 100 thousand bottles a year. The 2010 particular vintage is not described on their website. None of their other wines are presently available in my area.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Tulip Just Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 15 % alcohol about $25.
In the absence of marketing materials let's start by quoting the back label. "Tulip is a family owned winery, located in a town near Nazareth. The winery employs mentally disabled individuals, enabling them to share the joy of winemaking. This wine is made of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in the Upper Galilee. It was aged in top quality French and American oak barrels. This impressive and elegant wine has a dark red bordeaux color, and features flavors of ripe black and red fruits, with a hint of oak and a long and satisfying finish." And now for my review.
At the first sips this wine was long, multilayered, and slightly sweet. When paired with Wasabi-less Japanese rice crackers the Cab tasted grapey, offering light acidity and tannins. Then came baked chicken thighs in a medley of spices including basil, cumin, black pepper, garlic, and oregano that managed to take away that grapey taste but the wine remained too sweet. The situation improved with the delicious side dish of okra cooked in stewed tomatoes, onions, and garlic over quinoa. Our Galilee friend's acidity stepped up and was now forceful with a tinge of oak. Blackberries for dessert managed to keep that grapey taste away from my glass, but didn't do anything else.
My next meal featured a boxed Baked Ziti Siciliano, doused with grated Parmesan cheese. Now the wine started off weak, I won't say subtle, but did manage to strengthen as the meal went on. Interestingly enough when paired with chocolate cake bursting with nuts and frosting the liquid stepped up and became mouth filling.
The final meal centered on meat balls. Now our Cab presented mouth-cleansing acidity and was somewhat metallic. It was very long and pleasant. In response to green beans in tomato sauce over Basmati rice the wine picked up some sweetness. Its oak was very pleasant. Fresh strawberries mellowed and darkened the wine.
Final verdict. This wine is a definite no-no. I don't like sweet reds and when I want that grapey taste I'll reach for a grape, not for a wine. To be fair some of the pairings were quite good. But I would not buy this wine again, even at half the price.
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Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine wine with the right foods and people. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his Italian travel website www.travelitalytravel.com.
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