Wine and Spirits Bigger Can Still Be Better

Daniel Rogov
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Daniel Rogov

Over the past few years, a myth that boutiqe or garagiste wineries produce better or more exciting wines than large wineries has taken shape. While it is indeed true that a generous handful of small wineries are producing some truly fine wines, this has nothing to do with a large winery's ability to stay atop local and international developments and produce wines of extraordinary quality.

In fact, large wineries have two major advantages: a greater number of vineyards, which means grapes can be carefully selected for various series; and larger winery facilities, giving them the ability to decide precisely which grapes will go into each of their different series - ranging from good everyday drinking wines at reasonable prices to top-of-the-line fine wines that can be fairly expensive.

New releases from the Golan Heights Winery and its daughter company, Galil Mountain Winery, demonstrate quite well how size can translate into fine drinking at a wide range of prices.

Golan Heights Winery, Chardonnay, Katzrin, 2007: Deep gold, almost bronze in color, full-bodied, with a generous dose of creamy wood running through. Sounds like a wine dominated by wood, but the balance is there - the wood matched at first by notes of butterscotch and then pear, pineapple, spices and hazelnut, all coming together into a concentrated and well-focused whole. Drink now-2016, perhaps longer. NIS 102. Score 92. K

Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2007: Medium- to full-bodied (leaning to the full ), with soft tannins and sweet-and-spicy wood integrating nicely. Aromatic black fruit and chocolate on the nose, going on to reveal a fine array of blackberry, black currant, wild berry and roasted herbs, all leading to a long and generous finish. Approachable and enjoyable now, but best 2012-2025. NIS 125. Score 92. K

Golan Heights Winery, HeightsWine, Yarden, 2008: Bright, shining gold in color, medium-bodied, with honeyed sweetness; showing appealing peach, apricot and tropical fruits on a background of ginger-flavored baked apples. Rich and long, with fine acidity to keep it lively. Best with cheesecake or fruit-based pies. Drink now-2018. NIS 105. Score 92. K

Golan Heights Winery, White Riesling, Gamla, 2009: Light gold, medium-bodied, with generous and ripe peach and apricot fruits, supported nicely by notes of white pepper. Fruit forward enough that some will think it near-sweet. Best as an aperitif. Drink now. NIS 55. Score 87. K

Golan Heights Winery, Chardonnay, Gamla, 2009: Medium-bodied, gently oaked and lively, showing an appealing combination of citrus, pineapple and tropical fruit, all on a gently spicy background. Lively and refreshing. Drink now or in the next year or so. NIS 53. Score 86. K

Golan Heights Winery, Muscat, Yarden, 2008: Light gold with orange tints, a reinforced dessert wine showing ripe apricot, peach and pineapple notes. Generously sweet but lacking the balancing acidity that might have made it more lively. Drink now. NIS 45. Score 85. K

Galil Mountain, Meron, 2007: Oak-aged for 16 months, a dark garnet blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot (81%, 10% and 9% respectively ). Full-bodied and concentrated, with a generous alcohol content of 15%, but simultaneously soft and round. Gentle notes of spicy cedarwood open to show generous cassis, blackberries and red plums, supported nicely by notes of grilled herbs and earthy minerals. Drink now-2016. NIS 110. Score 91. K

Galil Mountain, Pinot Noir, 2008: Developed in one-year-old French barriques, showing deep garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins now integrating nicely. Black cherries on the opening attack, going on to reveal notes of red and black berries, cassis and spices, all on a gentle background of spicy wood and stony minerals. Complex, generous and long. Drink now-2014. NIS 65. Score 90. K

Galil Mountain, Shiraz, 2009: Reflecting the winemaker's wont to develop some of his varietal wines in stainless steel, in order to guard their natural flavors and aromas. A medium-, perhaps medium- to full-bodied wine showing soft, gently caressing tannins; opening in the glass to reveal generous purple plum, blackberry and black cherry fruits on a background that hints at one moment of freshly tanned leather and the next of licorice and Mediterranean herbs. Drink now-2014. NIS 48. Score 88. K

Galil Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009: Garnet in color, with purple and orange reflections, an unoaked red, medium- to full-bodied, showing typical Cabernet aromas and flavors. On the nose and palate black currants, blackberries and blueberries, supported nicely by notes of tobacco and green olives. Drink now-2013. NIS 48. Score 87. K

Galil Mountain, Merlot, 2009: Garnet toward royal purple, an unoaked red, medium- to full-bodied with soft, gently caressing tannins, showing currant, wild berry and purple plums on a lightly spicy background. Not complex, but very pleasant drinking and at its best with small cuts of beef or veal. Drink now-2013. NIS 48. Score 86. K

Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Colonello, Piedmont, 2005: Dark dusty garnet with hints of orange, made from 40-45 year old vines, a deep and well-balanced wine. Full-bodied, with soft, gently caressing tannins and a tempting array of ripe plums, red and black berries, tea and mushrooms. On the super long finish notes of dried roses. Approachable now, but what a waste as this one will only start to attain its peak in 2013 and should cellar comfortably until 2040 or longer. NIS 600. Score 96.

Hardys, Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz, Nottage Hill, S.E Australia, 2007: Medium- to full-bodied, dark garnet to royal purple in color, with softly caressing tannins and a generous array of red plums, wild berries, cassis and spicy notes, all on a light background of toasty oak. Drink now-2011. NIS 55. Score 88.

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