Revelation: Recanati Winery

If by name only you thought these wines came from Italy, it would be understandable. Lenny Recanati’s family heritage stretches back to Italy (also a Mediterranean-influenced grapegrowing country), but Lenny was born in Israel, where his state-of-the-art winery is located today.

I remember my first tastes of Israeli wines while working at a Wines of Israel lunch just over a decade ago. I’ve tasted several dozen Israeli wines over the ensuing years. Many have been good; some have been great. But, I’ve never tasted any as thrilling as these Recanati wines. Each is bewitching in complex aromas and impressively well-proportioned.

Recanati 2012 Roussanne/Marsanne Special Reserve White $50
This is a 60% Roussanne and 40% Marsanne blend. It’s very true to the Northern Rhône archetype. It smells of toasted hazelnuts, hay, baguette crust and sautéed butter. The palate layers on baking spices contributed by the 30% new French oak as well as a panoply of tree fruits: apricots, nectarines and zingy kumquats. The medium-plus body (13.5% abv) shows terrific balance, without even a suspicion of heaviness, even if the acidity is noticeably subtle. This drinks beautifully now, showing a touch of bottle age in its freshly turned earth notes on the finish.
Drink: 2016-18

Recanati 2013 Wild Carignan Reserve Judean Hills $50
This is a high-energy wine with deep layers of flavor and complex expressions of bold forest fruits and fresh mushrooms. It’s what my English friends would call “moreish”. And, it’s impossible not to want more of this silkly textured, full-bodied wine with seamlessly integrated yet lifting acidity. Graphite, cinnamon stick, garrigue, Marasca cherries and ripe blueberries linger on the dynamically long finish. Less than 6,000 bottles of this wine crafted from fruit dry-farmed in the Judean Hills are made.
Drink: 2016-20

Recanati 2013 Marselan Reserve Galilee $50
Marselan is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache developed in France in 1961 in an attempt to change the Languedoc’s landscape from high-volume, poor quality production to lower yielding, higher quality juice. So, it’s not surprising this variety has taken well to Israel’s Mediterranean climate. Tight on day one, this wine was very vocal on day two. Wild blueberry, cassis, fresh basil leaves and burnt twigs play into the nose. The palate feels dynamic with bright and refreshing acidity igniting flavors of squishy-ripe black plums and funky creosote. The tannins are lightly tingly and extend the concentrated flavors into a lengthy finish. Vibrant and engaging, this wine makes a compelling case for more widespread planting of Marselan.
Drink: 2016-21

Recanati 2012 Syrah/Viognier Reserve Galilee $40
This dark wine with a glass-staining, black plum skin color is reticent on the nose. It smells of green and black peppercorns and tastes of rare venison. It’s exotic and delicious, and it begs for a hearty meat dish. The palate is concentrated and smooth, with rounded, mouth-covering tannins and backset but supporting acidity. The finish is only medium, but there is much to enjoy in this blackberry coulis-centric wine. Trying decanting it for an hour before serving. Only three years old, it’s still impressively youthful in taste and in appearance. The three percent Viognier is grown alongside then co-fermented with the Syrah.
Drink: 2016-19

Recanati 2013 Petite Sirah Reserve Galilee $32
Though stunningly bold in inky color and highly concentrated forest berry personality, this wine doesn’t grate on the palate. That’s somewhat surprising for a variety as firm in personality as Petite Sirah, especially when grown on iron-rich, Terra Rossa soils. It is voluptuous and creamy with oodles of body and weight. The wine carries its high (14%) alcohol well impressively well. The youthful and vigorous flavors of cassis and black plum preserves dance from the palate into the medium-plus finish with the lightest hint of spice. It’s a baby in its evolution, yet it sips well now. Hopefully with time its pent up youthfulness will unfold a larger dimension of flavors.
Drink: 2016-20