Wine and Spirits / Still at the forefront: Golan Heights
Since it released its first wine from the 1983 vintage, the Golan Heights Winery has been at the forefront of both the Israeli wine revolution and of local wine leadership. That seems truer than ever as it celebrates its 25th anniversary, showing no signs of tiredness. Its best wines compete with many of the best of France, Italy, California and Australia.
The winery currently produces more than six million bottles annually, with nearly 30 percent destined for export. Its flagship wine is Katzrin, a Bordeaux-style blend, followed by the single-vineyard and regular releases in the Yarden series, all among the country's most age-worthy wines. Following those are the wines in the Gamla and Golan series - both often excellent and invariably good value for money. The winery also produces two sparkling wines, Blanc de Blancs and Brut, which are made in the traditional method Champenoise as well as Heightswine and several other dessert wines, each invariably attaining very positive reviews and appropriately high scores.
Here are reviews of several recently released wines plus sneak previews of wines soon to appear on the market.
Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Elrom Vineyard, Yarden, 2004: Developed in French oak barriques for 18 months, deep garnet, full-bodied, with firm tannins and spicy wood integrating well with fruits and despite its youth already showing elegance and finesse. Look for layer after layer of currant, blackberry and other berries, those supported beautifully by notes of cedar, sage and tar, all leading to a near-sweet and lingering fruity finish. Approachable now, best 2010-2018. NIS 175. Score 94. K
Golan Heights Winery, Merlot, Ortal Vineyard, Yarden, 2004: Dark garnet toward inky black, full-bodied, with once firm tannins and generous spicy wood integrating nicely now. Opens to reveal a tempting array of blackberry, raspberry, plum and cassis fruits, supported nicely by hints of smoky cedarwood and chocolate, leading to a gently spicy and notably long finish. Simultaneously complex, concentrated and elegant. Best 2010-2018. NIS 130. Score 93. K
Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin, 2004: Dark garnet to royal purple, with orange and violet reflections. Generous oak and still firm tannins in fine proportion and well-balanced by blackberry, black currant and cherry fruits, on a background of white pepper, Mediterranean herbs and on the long and generous finish hints of vanilla and peppermint. Drink now-2016. Future Release. Score 92. K
Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2005: Dark ruby red, full-bodied, with near-sweet tannins and spicy oak wrapped around black currants, berries, spices and a hint of dark chocolate. Enchanting hints of citrus peel and vanilla on the long finish. Fine balance and structure bode well for the future. Best 2010-2018. NIS 120. Score 92. K
Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2004: Dark garnet, with generous wood in fine balance with acidity and fruits. Opens to show currants and crushed berries, yielding to cherries, ripe purple plums and dark chocolate, all on a background of spices, asphalt and earthiness. Drink now-2016. NIS 120. Score 92. K
Golan Heights Winery, Chardonnay, Odem Organic Vineyard, Yarden, 2006: Full-bodied, opening with subtle aromas of figs, pears and apples, going on to show a generous dash of smoky, toasty oak and then pineapple, citrus peel and minerals leading to a long finish that is simultaneously creamy and bright. Drink now-2013. Future Release. Score 92. K
Golan Heights Winery, Noble Semillon, Botrytis, Yarden, 2004: Bright gold, with fine concentration and balance and developing deep honeyed botrytis-impacted spices and funkiness. On the nose and palate: dried apricots, orange peel, toasty oak and tropical fruits with a long caressing finish. Drink now-2018. NIS 105. Score 92. K
Golan Heights Winery, Blanc de Blancs, Yarden, 2001: The winery's best Blanc de Blancs to date. Made from Chardonnay grapes by the traditional methode Champenoise, this medium-bodied sparkling wine shows just the right balance between yeasty sourdough bread, peaches, citrus and minerals. With a generous mousse and sharp, well-focused bubbles that go on and on, this crisp and sophisticated wine goes on to a long, mouth-filling finish. Drink now-2012. NIS 120. Score 92. K
Best Buy Galil Mountain, Barbera, 2006: Showing darker, deeper and even more impressive than at an advance tasting. Inky ruby to garnet, with its impressive 15% alcohol content in fine balance with wood, tannins and fruit. On the nose and palate: blackberries, blueberries, plums and violets, those supported nicely by notes of vanilla and milk chocolate and on the long finish black pepper, minerals and red cherries. Generous but gently mouth-coating tannins, fine concentration, a supple wine for drinking now or cellaring until 2011. At NIS 60, an unbeatable value for money. Score 91. K