Galil Mountain Winery: My Annual Visit and Tasting Notes (K)

31/12/2008
By: Daniel Rogov

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?31.12.2008?

?By: Daniel Rogov

On Tuesday, 30 December 2008, I made my way in the early morning to the Upper Galilee, there to visit and do tastings at the Galil Mountain Winery.

With its physically beautiful state-of-the-art winery located on Kibbutz Yiron in the Upper Galilee, this joint venture between the Golan Heights Winery and the kibbutz has vineyards located in some of the best wine-growing areas of the Upper Galilee, including Yiron, Meron, Misgav Am, Yiftach and Malkiya. Winemaker Micha Vaadia produces distinctly terroir-based wines in two series. The first label, Yiron, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the second, Galil Mountain, contains varietal releases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Barbera, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, VIognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. The winery also releases two well-received blends, a Shiraz-Cabernet and Avivim, a blend between Viognier and Chardonnay. Possible varietal releases to look for in the not-distant future, those from still young vineyards, may be of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Production from the 2000 vintage was about 300,000 bottles. Since then the winery has grown to an output of about 800,000 bottles annually and production for 2009 is expected to exceed 1,000,000 bottles. Worth noting is that an additional barrel room, that to be underground to keep the winery in close contact with its natural surroundings is currently under construction and plans exist on paper for a new bottling line facility as well as for two more buildings to hold stainless steel tanks. Expansion and growth seem to be taking place in a well-planed manner.

My day at the winery was devoted primarily to advance, barrel and tank samples. Galil Mountain maintains its reputation for producing high quality wines at very good value for money. Perhaps even more interesting is that the winery is now producing wines that have what I can only think to call a “distinct Galilean personality” and is thus most definitely on its way to producing wines that clearly reflect a unique Israeli persona.

My thanks to winemaker Micha Vaadia, CEO Ronit Badler and others of the winery staff for a fine tasting and for their courtesies and good company during my visit.

Best
Rogov

Galil Mountain, Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 (Advance Tasting): An unoaked white, light straw in color, with a generously aromatic nose and crisply refreshing acidity, showing a tempting array of melon, citrus and kiwi fruits, those on a background that hints nicely of freshly mown grass. Drink from release-2010. Score 88. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

*Galil Mountain, Sauvignon Blanc, 2007: My earlier tasting note holds firmly. Fresh and aromatic. Light straw-colored, with melon, apricot and lime fruits, a crisply refreshing wine that lingers nicely on the palate. Drink now. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Chardonnay, 2008 (Barrel Tasting) Lightly oaked, with a lively golden color, opens with a distinct peachy nose and goes on to show appealing citrus, apple and white peach fruits, all with a fine overlay of minerality. Look as well for a note of peach and cherry pits that comes in on the finish. Drink from release-2010. Tentative Score 88-90. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

*Galil Mountain, Chardonnay, 2007: Developed partly in oak, partly in stainless steel vats. Golden-straw in color, medium-bodied, with a gentle hint of spicy oak and showing citrus, apple and pear fruits, those with an tempting hint of bitterness that creeps in on the finish. Drink now. Score 88. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Viognier, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Developing in new French oak barrels, with a light toasted white bread overlay. Light golden straw in color, with fine balancing acidity to highlight citrus and summer fruits, those hinting of a buttery overlay and peach pits. Medium-bodied but seems to float comfortably on the palate and finishing generous and long. Drink from release-2011. Tentative Score 89-91. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

*Galil Mountain, Viognier, 2007: Medium-bodied, dark golden-straw with orange and green reflections, showing good balance between wood, acidity and fruit. On the nose and palate floral, light mineral, summer fruits and melon come together nicely. Drink now or in the next year or so. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 31 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Avivim, 2007 (Advance Tasting): Medium-bodied, light golden straw in color, a blend of 69% Viognier and 31% Chardonay, those aged on their lees in new French oak barriques for 9 months. Youthful and zesty, with lightly spicy cedar wood notes highlighting am array of tropical fruits, pears and honeydew melon Lurking comfortably in the background a hint of red grapefruit. Lovely. Drink from release-2010. Score 90. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

*Galil Mountain, Avivim, 2006: A blend of 74% Viognier and 26% Chardonnay, aged in French oak for nine months. Full-bodied, with a butter hint on first attack and then opening to show ripe pears, summer and tropical fruits on a generous but not imposing vanilla and oaky background. On the moderately long finish, vanilla, and, creeping in quietly but distinctly, a hint of bitterness that will be appreciated by some and not by others. Drink now. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 31 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Pinot Noir, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Developing in year old French barriques, dark garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with fine density and still gripping tannins but already showing fine balance and structure. Opens with black cherries on the nose and then goes on to revel aromas and flavors of red and black berries, cassis and spices, those complemented nicely by a gentle hint of sweet-and-spicy wood. As the wine develops look as well for stony minerals and a subdued hint of mint. Complex, generous and long. Approachable and enjoyable on release but best 2011-2014. Tentative Score 90-92. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Pinot Noir, 2007: Developed in one to three year old French barrels, those imparting gentle spicy and vanilla notes. Dark cherry red, medium-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely and opening to reveal red and black berries, cherries and earthy minerals. Soft and round, with just enough complexity to keep our attention. Score 88. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

*Galil Mountain, Pinot Noir, 2006: Dark cherry-red toward garnet, medium-bodied, with its one firm tannins now settling in nicely, opens to show a complex array of red berry, cherry, blueberry and spices, those supported nicely by light toasty vanilla and, on the finish, a hint of minerality. Drink now?2010. Score 89. K (Re-tasted with consistent notes 30 and 31 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Barbera, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Neither Barbera d’Asti nor Barbera d’Alba but with a distinct Barbera de Galillee wine. Tasted from components still in tanks before being transferred to its 9 months anticipated stay in barriques, but already showing great charm. Dark garnet towards royal purple, with almost muscular concentration, with firm near-sweet tannins and opening to show a dark chocolate nose and, on the palate black and blue berries, purple plums and floral notes. Destined to be a concentrated wine but as it continue to develop it will soften comfortably. Best from 2010. K Tentative Score 90-92. (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Barbera, 2007 (Advance Tasting): Reflecting its 9 months in French oak with notes of smoky oak, medium-dark garnet in color, opening with a quiet nose but going on to reveal a generous array of berries, black cherries, purple plums and spring flowers. Tannins and oak rise along with a hint of bitter almonds on the finish so give this one a bit of time for its elements to come together. Best starting in 2010. Score 88. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Barbera, 2006: Developed for 9 months in French oak, dark, almost inky ruby toward garnet in color, with its impressive 15% alcohol content in fine balance with wood, tannins and fruit. On the nose and palate blackberries, blueberries, plums and violets supported nicely by notes of vanilla, milk chocolate and, rising on the long finish, notes of black pepper. Gently mouth-coating tannins and fine concentration. Drink now?2011. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): A blend of 58% Shiraz and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in American oak for 10 months and close to bottling at this tasting. Deep garnet towards royal purple, with generous but soft and gently mouth-coating tannins and fine concentration opens to reveal a medium- to full-bodied wine with plum, berry and cassis notes on a lightly spicy smoked-meat background. Best from release-2012. Score 88. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006: Smooth, round and aromatic, reflecting its ten mnths in American oak with gently spicy wood and hints of vanilla. Opens in the glass to show a generous mouthful of currant, blackberry, cherry and licorice notes. On the finish look for a hint of pomegranates. Drink now-2011. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Syrah, 2008 (Tank Samples): Tasted from components soon to be transferred to barriques for development. Made from grapes from a still young vineyard but even at this early stage of its development showing super-dark, well-extracted and with generous soft tannins yielding to red and black berries, plums and Oriental spices. Destined to develop a generous grilled meaty overtone and has the potential for gently muscular elegance. Tentative Score 90-92. K (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Yiron, 2006 (Advance Tasting): A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlo0t and 5% Merlot. Dark garnet with purple and orange reflections, reflecting its 16 months in French oak with notes of white pepper and white chocolate. Opens in the glass to show full-bodied, with gently mouth-coating tannins in fine balance with fruits and wood. On first attack red berries and red currants, those yielding to spicy cedar, blackberries and floral notes. Long and generous. Enjoyable from release but best 2010-2014. Score 92. K (Tasted30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Yiron, 2005: A Bordeaux-plus wine?that is to say, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot, plus 4% Syrah. Full-bodied and concentrated but simultaneously soft and elegant, with generous cassis and black fruits, with velvety tannins and reflecting its 16 months in French oak with gently spicy and dusty wood, all of which lead to a super-long finish. Perhaps the best to date from the winery. Approachable and thoroughly enjoyable now but best 2010?2015. NIS 100. Score 93. K (Re-tasted twice with consistent notes 30 and 31 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Syrah, Yiron, 2005: Dark, almost inky-garnet in color, medium to full-bodied, with fine balance between soft tannins.. Reflects its 16 months in French barriques with spicy cedar wood notes. On first attack raspberries and chocolate, those yielding to blackberries, currants and a rich floral note. On the long finish the tannins rise along with fruits and an appealing hint of red licorice. Drink now?2013. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Shiraz, 2007: Medium to full-bodied, oak aged for 13 months, with gently mouth-coating tannins and showing an appealing array of cherry, wild berry and peppery notes, with a hint of bitter almonds on the long finish. Drink now?2011. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Shiraz, 2006: Showing much as at an earlier tasting. Dark garnet, medium to full-bodied and aromatic with soft tannins integrating nicely and showing a generous array of red and black berries, cherries and plums, those on a lightly spicy background. Easy to drink but with enough complexity to command our attention. Drink now. Score 86. K (Re-tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007: Dark ruby toward garnet, medium-bodied, with soft, gently caressing tannins and showing an appealing array of blackberries, black currants and the fruits on a background that hints nicely of minted chocolate. Drink from release?2011, perhaps longer. Score 87. K (Re-tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Petit Verdot, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Made from young vines, a component tasting, almost surely destined for blending, showing super-dark garnet in color. Full-bodied, with still gripping tannins waiting to settle in but with good balance and structure that bode well for the future. Opens to show blackcurrants, cassis and blueberry fruits, those with an enchanting hint of near-sweetness that rises with the tannins on the long finish. (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

Galil Mountain, Cabernet Franc, 2008 (Tank Sample): Shows remarkable concentration, chewiness and tannins for a wine made from grapes from a still young vineyard. An almost chewy wine, showing fresh wild berry, cassis and roasted herbal notes, those parting to reveal notes of tobacco and espresso coffee that rise on the finish. Destined for blending. (Tasted 30 Dec 2008)

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