Founded in 1999, the modern kosher winery of Tabor started with production of 20,000 bottles. That number has risen in the 2003 harvest to 250,000, about half of which are committed to export. And European-trained winemaker Arieh Nesher is now striving to develop a "house style" of wines that, although capable of short-term cellaring, will be ready to drink on release.
The Kfar Tabor winery is currently releasing wines in two series. The top-of-the-line wines in the Mes'cha series are varietal ones that now include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. A second series, Tabor-Adama, reflects on its labels the type of soils in the vineyards. In reading the labels, it may be useful to know that adama translates into soil; gir is chalky soil; and bazelet refers to volcanic soil. A fascinating and fun exercise, especially with the Adama wines, would be to purchase one bottle from each type of soil and taste them side by side to see the quite evident and sometimes even dramatic differences.
Tabor, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Mes'cha, 2001: A full-bodied blend of 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 percent Merlot, made from grapes from Malkia in the Upper Galilee, aged partly in new oak, and partly in one-year-old barrels for 14 months. Young and tight, with excellent focus and tempting flavors of currants, spices and cedar flavors, along with a leathery note that runs throughout. As rich on its near-sweet nose as on its fully dry palate, and with a long fruity finish, this is the best wine made by this winery to date. Drink now until 2008. NIS 116. Score 91. (*)
Tabor, Cabernet Sauvignon, Terra Rosa, Adama, 2002: Dark, tight and firm but well-focused and opening nicely in the glass to reveal an array of ripe cherry, currant, spice, anise and lightly toasty oak flavors. Supple, with just the right hints of tannins that come to the fore on the long finish. Drink now until 2006. NIS 59. Score 88. (*)
Tabor, Merlot, Bazelet, Adama, 2001: Medium- to full-bodied, with a deep garnet color, and reflecting its aging in French and American oak, this red is aromatic, round and mouth-filling. Currant, spice and black cherry flavors, smooth and polished tannins, and a rich finish with fruits that fan out beautifully on the palate. Drink now until 2006. NIS 69. Score 90. (*)
Tabor, Merlot, Gir, Adama, 2002: Dark cherry red toward garnet, this medium-bodied, lightly oaked wine has a somewhat muted nose but shows very well on the palate, opening to reveal dark plums, currants, smooth tannins and a rich aftertaste on which the flavors linger nicely. Drinking well now but better in another six months. Drink now until 2006. NIS 59. Score 87. (*)
Tabor, Chardonnay, Mes'cha, 2003: Deep golden straw in color, this medium- to full-bodied white reflects its four months in oak, with hints of smoky and spicy oak, along with rich, lightly creamy layers of pear, honey and apricots. Complex and long, a step forward for this winery. Drink now until 2006. NIS 59. Score 90. (*)
Tabor, Chardonnay, Bazelet, Adama, 2003: Golden straw in color, with green reflections, this supple wine has a pleasing earthy accent to its citrus, hazelnut and pineapple notes. Give the wine time to open in the glass and it reveals ripe pear flavors, as well. Enough complexity and depth and a just long enough finish to hold our interest. NIS 59. Drink now until 2005. Score 89. (*)
Tabor, Chardonnay, Gir, Adama, 2003: After three months in new French and American oak, this light- to medium-bodied straw-colored wine shows an enchanting touch of spicy-vanilla laden wood, along with green apple and citrus fruits. Not long or complex but very pleasing and a good match to veal or chicken dishes. Drink now or in the next year or so. NIS 59. Score 87. (*)
Tabor, Sauvignon Blanc, Adama, 2003: Light, bright and fresh, this medium-bodied unoaked white shows appealing flavors and aromas of pears, pineapples and citrus. With plenty of acidity to keep it lively, and aromas of a garden after a light rain, it's a most pleasant wine, indeed. Drink now or in the next year. NIS 59. Score 87. (*)