Wine Advocate: 91 points
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a mixed-regions wine (Judean Hills at 900 meters; and Manara, Upper Galilee at 650 meters). It was aged for 36 months in French oak barrels (300- to 500-liter, 90% new). There are pros and cons in all of the winery's submissions–different reasons why they might appeal to people with different drinking preferences. The oak here mutes a lot of typical Cabernet flavors–not by adding a vanilla overlay, but just by changing the bright expression of the flavor, the cassis nuance many reference as a descriptor. In terms of that vanilla issue, at least, the oak here seems under far better control than on most. The wine is focused and well structured, yet also balanced and expressive, occasionally brooding. Finishing with flavor and intensity, it is a big wine, but nicely wrought. Overall, it will have its enthusiasts, and for good reason.