Wine and Spirits / A Decade of Distinction

Celebrating the 10th year since releasing its first wine, Clos de Gat continues to demonstrate its status as one of the very best and most exciting wineries in the country. Its wines maintain a distinct Mediterranean personality with a specific nod to France, concentrated and even intense, but displaying a continued level of elegance.

Located on Kibbutz Harel in the Judean Hills, the winery is a joint project of the kibbutz and winemaker Eyal Rotem, who was trained in Australia. The name "Clos de Gat" is a play on words - the French word clos means an enclosed vineyard surrounded by stone walls or windbreaks, while the Hebrew gat is an antique wine press.

Production is currently about 70,000 bottles annually. The winery releases wines in three series: Sycra (Aramaic for "bright red" ); the Bordeaux blend Ayalon Valley; and Har'el. Starting from the 2003 vintage, the wines have been made with wild yeasts.

Clos de Gat, Chardonnay, 2009: As is the wont of the winemaker, fermented entirely on wild yeasts, developed in French oak for 12 months, deep gold with a distinct green tint. Deeply aromatic, the opening nose replete with lime and tangerines, showing fabulous depth of aromas and flavors that blossom in the glass as the wine opens. Round and almost thick, full-bodied but with plenty of fine acidity. On first attack naval oranges and summer fruits, parting to make way for notes of fresh figs, spices and gently subdued oak - all in fine balance and all lingering on a super-long and near creamy finish. If this one does not call to mind a fine Burgundian Montrachet, nothing will. Approachable and fully enjoyable now, but best from 2012-2016. NIS 160. Score 94.

Clos de Gat, Ayalon Valley, 2007: As always, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot (60%, 30% and 10% respectively ), showing full-bodied and reflecting its 18 months in new oak with gentle influences of spicy oak and abundant but soft, gently caressing tannins. Impenetrably dark garnet in color, showing black fruits on the nose, opening in the glass to reveal currant and blackberry fruits and, from mid-palate on, hints of blueberries. Long and generous with tannins rising with the fruits on the finish. Approachable now but best 2013-2019. NIS 180. Score 94.

Clos de Gat, Syrah, Har'el, 2009: Dark royal purple, reflecting its 14 months in barriques with sill gripping tannins and notes of spicy cedar wood on the nose. Opening slowly in the glass to show black and red currants, and dried berries, matched by notes of sage and graphite. Firm and mineral-rich, needing time for its elements to come fully together and show its well-focused complexity. Dense and chewy at this stage, but destined to be an alluring and elegant wine. Best from 2012-2019. NIS 130. Score 93.

Clos de Gat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Har'el, 2009: Blended with small amounts of Merlot and Petit Verdot, showing medium- to full-bodied, reflecting its 12 months in oak with a tempting note of fresh hardwood sawdust on the nose, matched nicely by notes of crushed berries. On the palate black currant, blackberry and black cherry fruits, going on to reveal a clear note of raspberries, all matched by notes of what at one moment seems to be mocha and the next espresso coffee. Round and long with soft gently caressing tannins that rise on the finish. Approachable and enjoyable now, but best 2012-2017. NIS 130. Score 92.

Clos de Gat, Merlot, Har'el, 2009: Dark garnet toward royal purple, a concentrated and intense wine showing layer after layer of complexity. On first attack, black fruits and wild berries, parting to make way for red currants and cherries, all on a background of freshly picked herbs. On the long finish notes of mocha and Oriental spices. Approachable now but best from mid-2011 through 2016. NIS 130. Score 92.

Clos de Gat, Chanson Rouge, 2010: The winery's first release of a red Chanson and quite a happy success. A blend of somewhat over 60% Merlot, 30% Syrah and 7% Mourvedre, oak-aged for three months in well-used barrels giving the wine just a kiss of sweet and spicy oak. On the nose berries and cherries, opening in the glass to reveal medium-bodied, with soft tannins and fresh raspberry, cherry and cassis flavors, complemented nicely by a light note of milk chocolate. An ideal match to the Chanson Blanc, which both boast an easygoing complexity. Drink now-2013. NIS 90. Score 90.

Clos de Gat, Chanson Blanc, 2010: Bright shining gold in color, an un-oaked bend of 65% Chardonnay, 20% Semillon and the remainder of Viognier and Chenin Blanc. Medium-bodied, opening with notes of citrus and white peaches, and opening in the glass to show tantalizing hints of tropical fruits and minerals. As in the past, a mouth-filling wine that is simultaneously easy to drink and possessed of just enough complexity to grab the attention. Drink now-2013. NIS 90. Score 90.

Established in Shiloh in the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria, this winery released its first wines from the 2005 vintage.

Winemaker Amichai Lourie relies on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah and Chardonnay grapes, largely from the winery's own vineyards. Production in 2007 was of 70,000 bottles, in 2008 (a shmita year ) 40,000 and in 2009 about 60,000.

Shiloh, Mosaic, 2006: Deep, almost impenetrable garnet with purple reflections, full-bodied, reflecting its 20 months in French oak with generous but not-overpowering spicy wood and gently mouth-coating tannins. A blend of 60% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, flushed out with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. Opens to show a generous red berry and chocolate personality, and on the long finish notes of dried herbs. Drink now-2015. NIS 230. Score 91. K

Shiloh, Shiraz, Sod Reserve, 2008: Dark, full-bodied, reflecting its 20 months in primarily French oak with notes of sweet and spicy cedar and graphite and still gripping tannins, those needing a bit more time to integrate but already showing fine balance and structure. Opens with blackberries and purple plums, going on to aromas and flavors of wild berries and vanilla and, on the long, gently gripping finish an appealing note of freshly cured cigar tobacco. Approachable and enjoyable now, but best from mid-2011 to 2015. NIS 120. Score 90. K