Yarden:Comparing Double Magnums to 750 ml Format Bottles (K)

By: Daniel Rogov

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?By: Daniel Rogov

Many ask about the advantages of large format bottles. This evening (Saturday, 30 January) I attended a dinner and tasting at Ramat Gan’s Chloelys restaurant. The reason for the special event was a tasting of wines from the Golan Heights Winery, those in double magnum formats, the wines accompanied by dishes of chef Victor Gluger.

Knowing that I have regular format bottles of these wines in my cellar, I promised myself to do a tasting of those tomorrow in order to make the comparisons of the impact of the large format bottles. Being a sometimes impetuous soul, I decided to do my at-home tasting on return home this evening. As the wines served at the dinner were not tasted blind, neither were the wines I selected from my cellar for my continued tastings. Fair enough in this case as the concept of the second tasting was to match and compare the various wines and tasting blind would have been somewhat silly in such a case.

The dinner and the wines were lovely as was my at-home tasting. My thanks to Arnon, to winemaker Tali Sandowsky and others of the staff of the winery and to chef Gluger and the restaurant staff for their courtesies during my visit.


Golan Heights Winery, Chardonnay, Yarden, 2002: When I tasted this wine in 2009, I wrote that it was somewhat past its peak. Tasted today from four bottles, two in my own tasting room, two at a special tasting, and all from 750 ml bottles, I have to take that back as the wine has sprung back and is now showing quit nicely indeed. Deep but still bright gold in color, with its once generous oak now integrated fully and not so much fruity as it is rich in coffee, rose petals and citrus peel and now showing hints of caramel, those parting to reveal stewed pears and a distinct note of cr?me Catalan. Taste this one blind and you might think you were drinking a nicely maturing Burgundy white. Whatever, a wine with character and charm, drinking well now and very possibly holding nicely until 2012. A wine that has comfortably outsmarted the 2002 curse. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 30 Jan 2010)


Golan Heights Winery, Merlot, Yarden, 2002 (Double Magnum): Dark garnet, with no clearing at the rim, showing full-bodied, with gently gripping tannins and hints of spicy wood integrated nicely now. On first attack blueberries and Mediterranean herbs, those parting to reveal notes of wild berries, currants and licorice, those still in the process of coming together. Enjoyable now and “almost ready to drink” but best from 2010-2018. Long, round, complex and elegant. Score 90. K (Tasted in this format 30 Jan 2010)

Golan Heights Winery, Merlot, Yarden, 2002 (Standard 750 ml format): As written about 9 months ago, dark garnet with a hint of clearing at the rim, with once-firm tannins well integrated with now gently spicy wood. Showing plum and berry fruits on herbal, citrus peel and white chocolate notes. Still drinking nicely but not for further cellaring. Drink up. Score 88. K (Re-tasted 30 Jan 2010)


Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2004 (Double Magnum): Impenetrably dark garnet, full-bodied, with still firm tannins and generous but not overpowering spicy wood hanging in and waiting to settle in. On the nose and palate generous black currants and wild berries, those yielding to notes of purple plums, espresso coffee and dark chocolate. On the super long finish notes of asphalt and earthy minerals. Approachable now but not “truly ready”. Best 2012-2025. Score 93. K (Tasted in this format 30 Jan 2010)

Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2004 (Standard 750 ml format): My most recent tasting note (about 4 months ago) hold firmly. Dark, almost impenetrable garnet, with generous currants and crushed berries, those yielding to cranberries, ripe purple wood in fine balance with acidity and fruits. Opens to show plums and dark chocolate, all on a background of spices, asphalt and earthiness. Drink now?2016. Score 92. K (Re-tasted 30 Jan 2010)


Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2001 (Double Magnum): Dark garnet with orange and purple reflections, full-bodied, with still firm tannins hanging in with spicy wood and needing a bit of time more to settle down. Showing fine balance and structure, opens slowly in the glass to reveal black currant, crushed berry and Oriental spices, those on a background of vanilla, cigar box and tobacco notes. Almost ready to drink in this format. Best 2011-2019, perhaps longer. Score 92. K (Tasted in this format 30 Jan 2010)

Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvigon, Yarden, 2001 (Standard 750 ml format): One again, my most recent tasting note (about six months ago) holds firmly. Full-bodied with finely tuned balance between wood, tannins and fruits. Showing plum, wild berry and spicy currant fruits, and reflecting its 18 months in oak with appealing overlays of vanilla, cedar, tobacco and cocoa. Drink now?2013. Score 91. K (Re-tasted 30 Jan 2010)


Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2000 (Double Magnum): Let’s start off with an enthusiastic “oh wow”. Full-bodied, with still firm tannins and generous oak holding on firmly but those in fine balance with fruits and acidity and with a structure that bodes well for a long future. On first attack currants and spicy cedar wood, those followed by blackberries and black cherries, all on a background of cinnamon-flavored vanilla and espresso coffee. Fully drinkable now but don’t hesitate to cellar this one until 2016, perhaps even longer. Score 93. K (Tasted in this format 30 Jan 2010)

Golan Heights Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarden, 2000 (Standard 750 ml format): Full-bodied, with its once firm tannins and generous oak integrating nicely and well balanced by currants, blackberries and spicy cedar wood, those opening to plums and black cherries, all matched nicely with vanilla and an appealing herbal overlay followed by a long finish. Drink now?2012. Score 92. K (Re-tasted 30 Jan 2010)


Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Heightswine, 2007: Richly honeyed, with generous aromas and flavors of ripe white peaches, apricots, litchis and passion fruit, all with overlays of sweet ginger and, on the long, long finish notes of baked apples that have been treated to hints of cinnamon and sweet cream. Medium- to full bodied, rich and with fine balancing acid, a fine wine indeed. Drink now-2018, perhaps longer. Score 92. K (Re-tasted 30 Jan 2010)


This is not a restaurant review but it would not be fair not to mention the dishes selected for what proved to be an exellent dinner.

With the Chardonnay,a fine carpaccio of red tuna with a light salad with citrus vinaigrette; with a superb soup of goose liver and black truffles the 2002 Yarden Merlot; with delicate and delicious smoked and slow-cooked fillets of sea bass, the 2004 Yarden Cabernet; and with a fabulous lamb ossobucco, that in a sauce of Cabernet Sauvignon and veal stock all on a bed of risotto that included Trompette de la Mort mushrooms, the 2001 and 2000 Yarden Cabernet.

As to dessert, I skipped the culinary offering and stayed entirely with a glass of 2007 Heightswine. And then of course, several espressos, those done precisely as I like them ? short and aggressive.

The double magnum format bottles are made in very limited editions. Those can be obtained directly from the winery.
Yarden, Merlot 2002 Double Magnum, NIS 1550
Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, Double Magnum, 1650
Yarden, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001, Double Magnum, NIS 2000
Yarden, Cabernet Sauvigno, 2000, Double Magnum, NIS 2200

In summary, everyone involved from the winery and the restaurant “done did very good indeed”

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