Online specialists, Paneco, recently organized an innovative tasting for their customer club. It was a tasting of the wines of Margalit Winery against Clos de Gat. It was held at Seren DPT, in Jaffa. The tutored tasting was given by Oded Shoham of the Israel Wine Experience.
Paneco Israel is a company that excels in online marketing of beers, wines and spirits, including a broad range of Israeli wines at every price point, in every style and their own range of imported wines providing quality and value. They offer great prices, a very varied range and excellent door to door service. Seren DPT is a wine bar-cum-wine shop-cum tasting room, in the old Greek market of Jaffa, not far from the Old Clock Tower. It must be one of the quaintest wine venues in Israel. The event was professionally hosted by Sean, the manager of Seren DPT.
Oded Shoham is one of the great wine personalities of Israeli wine. He is also one of the most experienced. He has planted and managed vineyards and been involved in export and import. He has worked for a boutique winery (Tzora) and the largest wineries in the country (Carmel & Barkan). He has managed a small boutique wine shop (Naftali) and worked for a supermarket chain (Tiv Taam). He is owner and founder of Israel Wine Experience, managed Handcrafted Wines of Israel and today markets both Clos de Gat and Margalit Winery, along with other boutique wineries.
The tasting was over-subscribed by Paneco’s customers. The guests were initially welcomed by Rachel Montefiore Nataf, wine manager of Paneco. Then Oded Shoham began the tasting. He started by comparing the differences of the two wineries. Margalit Winery was founded in 1989 by Dr. Yair Margalit. Clos de Gat was founded in 2000 by Eyal Rotem. Yair Margalit received his formative experience at UC Davis (California) and Eyal Rotem studied in Australia. Margalit Winery is situated in Binyamina, in the Coastal Plain; Clos de Gat is at Kibbutz Harel in the Judea region. Margalit’s vineyards are at Kadita in the Upper Galilee, Binyamina and Zichron Ya’acov; Clos de Gat is a rare and genuine estate winery. The winery sits surrounded by its vines. Both wineries have remained relatively small and much in demand with wine lovers and connoisseurs alike.
In each flight, the younger, lighter or less expensive wine was served first.
The first wines were Chardonnays: Margalit Optima 2020 v Clos de Gat Chardonnay 2020. The Optima was made from Chardonnay and 25% Margalit Blanc, a local mutation that occurred in their Binyamina vineyard, which they propagated and then planted in their Zichron Vineyard. The wine was a Chardonnay in the modern style: more apple than butter, with a very pronounced acidity. The Clos de Gat Chardonnay was a little richer, oakier and closer to a traditional Chardonnay. Like all Clos de Gat’s wines it was grown at the winery, at Harel in the Judean Foothills. (They always write Judean Hills on the label, but Judean Foothills is a more accurate description). WINNER: Clos de Gat
Then two blends with a Mediterranean bent. Clos de Gat Chanson Red 2019 v. Margalit Paradigma 2019. The Chanson was made from Cabernet, Syrah and Mourvedre and the Paradigma was a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. The Chanson was lighter, unoaked, with good fruit. The Paradigma was very fruit forward with red berry fruit and had a silky mouth feel. WINNER: Margalit.
The next flight was varietals with which the wineries excel: Clos de Gat Harel Syrah 2019 v. Margalit Cabernet Franc 2018. These were both outstanding. It is probably true to say that Clos de Gat was one of the pioneers of Syrah in Israel and that Margalit is definitely the pioneer of Cabernet Franc. The wines did not disappoint. Hard to choose a winner. However if a winner had to be chosen, it would go to Margalit, just. WINNER: Margalit.
The Bordeaux style wines were next. Clos de Gat Ayalon 2016 v. Margalit Enigma 2016. Both have earned plenty of kudos over the years as two of Israel’s finest Bordeaux blends. Both were nicely matured, with good bottle age, but no doubt the Ayalon was showing its age more. The Enigma was at a peak. Deep, complex and intense. WINNER in a knock out: Margalit.
Finally, de-luxe icon wines. Clos de Gat Sycra Merlot 2016 v. Margalit Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve 2015. These are extremely rare, prestige wines produced in tiny quantities. These are not the sort of wines normally provided for tastings. The Merlot was from the Judean Foothills and the Cab was from the Upper Galilee. In truth both merited more time in the glass to open up. Out of the two the better on the night was the Merlot, by a nose. WINNER: Clos de Gat.
The overall result, far as the writer was concerned, was 3-2 in favor of Margalit. It was a bit of fun, but meaningless as not every flight was comparing like with like. However it was an excellent and revealing tasting, with a wonderful opportunity to taste wines that are not readily available.
Finally, Shacham Zaguri, Chief Marketing Officer of Paneco, brought the proceedings to an end. He thanked Oded, summed up the evening and thanked the guests for attending. Paneco should be congratulated in arranging such an interesting tasting.