Saslove: My Annual Visit and Tasting Notes

By: Daniel Rogov more »


?By: Daniel Rogov

Thursday, 29 January, was another of those rambling days during which I visited three local boutique wineries, the first of which was that of Barry Saslove.

Considering that Saslove founded his eponymous winery in 1998, he is indeed one of the “old-timers” on the Israeli boutique scene. I recall not only Barry’s first endeavors but his remarkable enthusiasm. It is a delight to report that after more than a decade he has lost not one iota of that enthusiasm. Better yet, Saslove wines continue to move in the direction of elegance.

Located on Kibbutz Eyal in the Sharon region and with a new facility for receiving and fermenting grapes in the Upper Galilee, Saslove has his own vineyards in that area currently planted with Cabernet Sauvigon, Merlot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc grapes already on line with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Gewurztraminer in the pipeline. Production is currently about 80,000 bottles annually.

For several years, under the label “K by Saslove” the winery released kosher wines. That production was halted with the 2005 vintage but the winery is now using the facilities of a service winery to produce kosher wines under the Sagol label. Production of the kosher wine was of 2,000 bottles in 2007 and 4,000 bottles in 2008. Planned releases from the 2009 vintage are 10,000 bottles.

My tastings were primarily of wines from the 2007 and 2006 vintage, many of which are still in barrels and some (especially the 2007 wines) of which were tasted as components, some from new barrels, some from old, some from different makes of barrels and some from different vineyards. As always in such cases, decisions have yet to be made at the winery as to final blends and even to which series the wines will go. In such cases, even though based on knowledge of the past history of the winery and its philosophy, predictions for the future are entirely my own. As to whether those predictions will prove wise and accurate or somewhat foolish is something that only time will tell.

My thanks to Barry and Nili Saslove for a warm welcome, a good tasting and even good coffee made with the winery’s macchineta.


Saslove, Cabernet Sauvignon, Adom, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Tasted from components but already showing dark garnet in color, full-bodied, with generous near-sweet tannins and ripe black cherry, purple plum and currant fruit that promise to be pure and well focused. On the background, light toasty oak and finishing with notes of mocha and spices. Best from 2010-2016. Tentative Score 89-91. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Saslove, Merlot, Adom, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Dark garnet towards royal purple, medium- to full-bodied, with cressing tannins, a rich, soft and round wine, showing blackberry, espresso coffee and black olive notes all on a lightly spicy background. On the long finish a surprising but appealing note of citrus peel. Tasted from components. Best from 2010. Tentative Score 88-90. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Saslove, Cabernet Sauvignon, Adom, 2006 (Barrel Tasting): Full-bodied, rich, smooth and complex, with firm tannins integrating nicely with spicy wood and opening to reveal currant and berry fruits, those complemented by notes of sage and minerals and, on the long finish light sweet cedar and blackberries. Tasted from components but already showing simultaneously concentrated and elegant. Best 2010-2015. Tentative Score 90-92. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Saslove, Merlot, Adom 2006 (Barrel Tasting): Full-bodied and generously tannic but lean and crisp on the palate, opening to show an enchanting array of raspberry, blackberry, cranberry, tobacco and sage notes, those supported by generous but not overpowering spicy wood. On the long finish notes of espresso coffee and a hint of saddle leather. Best from release – 2013. Tentative Score 89-91. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Saslove, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 (Barrel Tasting): A full-bodied, deep royal purple
blend of 2/3 Cabernet and 1/3 Shiraz in which both varieties make themselves felt nicely. Developed in barriques for 22 months, its elements already coming together nicely and showing opulence. On the nose and palate a tempting array of currants, plum, blueberries and black pepper, those on a light tarry background. Delicious now but with its best still in front of it. Drink from release but best 2011-2015. One of Saslove’s very best. Tentative Score 91-93. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Saslove, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserved, 2006 (Barrel Tasting): Showing full-bodied, with generous oak and still firm tannins integrating nicely and showing fine balance with fruits and acidity. Promises to soften with time but destined to be deep, dark and concentrated while simultaneously rich and elegant. On the nose and palate dried and fresh currants, blackberries and raspberries, those in sharp focus and supported by notes of spices and Mediterranean herbs. Best from 2010-2015. Tentative Score 90-92. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Saslove, Merlot, Aviv, 2007: Made as are all of the wines in the Aviv series in stainless steel vats with oak chips. Medium-bodied, with soft tannins and appealing notes of spicy and vanilla-rich oak, opening to show wild berry, currant and purple plums, those highlighted by light notes of sage and chocolate. Finishes round and smooth and moderately-long with fruits rising. Drink now-2011. NIS 72. Score 88. (Tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Saslove, Cabernet Sauvignon, Aviv, 2007: My recent tasting note holds firmly. Almost blue-black in color, medium to full-bodied with firm tannins and smoky wood integrating nicely now and showing fine balance to highlight blackberry, purple plum and currant fruits, those complemented by hints of spices, cloves and espresso coffee. Drink now?2010. NIS 72. Score 88. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Saslove, Marriage, Aviv, 2007: A medium-bodied, soft and round blend of 25% Merlot, 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Shiraz opening to show appealing red currant, raspberry and blueberry notes, those supported by notes of spices and, as traditional to this wine, red licorice. Drink now-2010. NIS 72. Score 88. Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)

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