?By: Daniel Rogov
Once a year, like many other wineries, the winemaker, owners and staff of Chateau Golan host a press tasting to unveil wines recently released or just about to be released. Today, as the saying has it, was the day and the tasting, in the presence of winemaker Uri Hetz, was held this morning and early afternoon at Jonathan Roshfeld’s “Herbert Samuel” restaurant.
In all but one case, I had tasted these wines at least once and sometimes twice or even three times earlier (i.e. barrel tastings and pre-release tastings). That, of course, reflects not at all negatively on the pleasures of such a tasting for ongoing re-tastings are a critical part of the evaluation not only of specific wines but of the winery itself. Sitting at my computer now, I compared my tasting notes of today to those made earlier. It goes a long way in describing the positive attributes of the winery and the talents of the winemaker that the wines, developing as they should, show remarkable consistency between tastings.
Following are my updated tasting notes, those in some cases identical to earlier ones because of the consistency involved. My thanks to Uri and the others from the winery who were present for their courtesies and for a fine tasting. I will be visiting the winery on 12 January and there will be doing extensive tastings of other wines from the 2007 and 2008 vintages. I shall, of course, report back at that time.
Chateau Golan, Ros?, Royal Reserve, 2007: As is the tradition of the winery, a ros? made entirely from Cabernet Franc grapes, that developed partly in stainless steel and part for a short while in old barriques. Blushing peach in color, medium-bodied, with appealing wild berries, cassis and notes of strawberries, those on a lightly spicy background. Mouthfilling and generous for a ros?. NIS 100. Score 88. (Tasted 14 Dec 2008)
Chateau Golan, Sauvignon Blanc, Royal Reserve, 2007: 60% of this wine was fermented and developed sur lie in old 350 liter barrels and 40% in stainless steel for about six months. Medium-bodied and aromatic with generous notes of citrus, pineapple and orange peel together with a not-at-all displeasing hint of what Jancis Robinson so appropriately called ?cat?s pee on a gooseberry bush.? Drink now. NIS 135. Score 87. (Re-tasted 14 Dec 2008)
Chateau Golan, Geshem White, Royal Reserve, 2007: A gently oak-aged blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, French Colombard and Rousanne (63%, 29%, 7% and 1% respectively) calling to mind the white wines of the Rhone Valley. Opens with a floral, almost honeysuckle nose, and then goes on to show melon, white peach, almond and buttery notes on the nose and palate. Full-bodied, smooth and creamy in texture, a quiet and elegant wine, but lacking the mineral and acidity in the backbone that might have elevated the wine to a far higher level of enjoyment. Drink now?2010. NIS 155. Score 88. (Re-tasted 14 Dec 2008)
Chateau Golan, Geshem, Royal Reserve, 2006: A blend of 80% Grenache, 14% Syrah and 6% of Mourvedre, each developed separately and having spent a total of 13 months in barriques. Medium garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, opening quietly on the nose but showing very nicely indeed on the palate, opening to reveal raspberry, cherry and red currant fruits, those supported nicely by vanilla and hints of spices and bittersweet chocolate. Long and generous. Drink now?2012. NIS 325, Score 91. (Re-tasted 14 Dec 2008)
Chateau Golan, Syrah, Royal Reserve, 2006: Medium-dark garnet toward royal-purple in color, full-bodied, this blend of 89% Syrah, 8% Grenache and 3% Petite Sirah was aged in oak for 12 months. Generous but soft tannins and spicy wood along with fairly high alcohol (14.7%), those in fine balance with fruits and acidity. On the nose and palate ripe blackberries, raspberries and red plums, those matched nicely by spices and hints of citrus peel and saddle leather. Drink now?2012. NIS 150. Score 90. (Re-tasted 14 Dec 2008)
Chateau Golan Merlot, Royal Reserve, 2006: Showing more full-bodied than at earlier tastings, with soft, near-sweet tannins. Opens with a somewhat veggie nature but shifts quickly to show tempting black fruits, damson plums and crushed berries, those complemented nicely by an exotic near-sweet spicy note that lingers nicely through the vanish. Drink now-2011. NIS 147. Score 90. (Re-tasted 14 Dec 2008)
Chateau Golan Cabernet Sauvignon, Royal Reserve, 2006: Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 9% Cabernet Franc, 3.5% Syrah and 1.5% Petit Verdot. Oak-aged for 12 months, medium-dark garnet, with a hint of sweetness on the nose, turning firm on the palate with mouth-coating tannins and hints of wood. Opens to light oak and mocha, which support currants, blackberries and a hint of vanilla bean that adds a nice touch; tannins, alcohol and a note of sweet chewing tobacco rising on the finish. Best from 2010-2013, perhaps longer. NIS 137. Score 90. (Re-tasted 14 Dec 2008)
Chateau Golan, Eliad, 2006:. Dark garnet, full-bodied and with fine balance and structure, a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.5% each of Merlot and Petit Verdot, oak-aged for 12 months. Opens with red and black berries, those joined by black currant and black cherries supported by a light note of spicy oak and sweet cedarwood. Ripe, round and generous, will most assuredly call to mind Bordeaux with a Mediterranean hint added by notes of fresh herbs and black olives. Drink now-2013. NIS 175. Score 91. (Re-tasted 14 Dec 2008)
Chateau Golan, Syrah, Royal Reserve, 2002: Tasted from the winery’s library, my most recent tasting note holds firmly. Big, rich, dense and tannic, continuing to show round and rich. Deep garnet-to-purple color with a bit of clearing now appearing at the rim, showing generous plum, herbal and earthy aromas and flavors. Drinking well but fully mature and not for further cellaring. Drink now. Special Order Only. Score 90. (Re-tasted 14 Dec 2008)
P.S. It seems inescapable that the issue of prices arises at every tasting and every discussion of the wines of Chateau Golan. I’ll leave that to others at this time. I’m confused only about why the Geshem red costs NIS 325 while the Eliad of the same year, said to be the flagship wine of the winery goes for a “mere” NIS 175,