My business partner Chalom and myself were hosted this morning at the Gvaot Winery (our first visit ever there) by Shivi Drori the head winemaker and Eliav Miller, the marketing manager, and were delighted by the beautiful surroundings of the hills (in hebrew: gvaot) of Samaria , one of the main wine-growing regions of Israel. This was followed by a nice breakfast composed of a cheese platter, fresh bread, crackers, green olives and home-made olive oil to close the tasting.
We had the pleasure to taste an re-taste a bunch of their great wines, all excellent to outstanding IMHO.
Gvaot Gofna Chardonnay-Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: Once again this year, a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon that has spent 6 months in oak barrels, giving it a nice toasty and buttery character. Shivi Drori the winemaker said it was a little too oaked and hiding the fruit but that it would change over the next 2 years. I, for whatever it's worth, didn't think it was too oaky but wait, who cares what I think?
Anyway, while I didn't really like the previous vintage of this wine, I personally liked this one very much, it was refreshing and nice, very pale, clean yellow in color, medium to full-bodied with on the nose toasted bread, green apples, fresh flowers, the toasted bread and apples showing also on the buttery palate with nice acidity and a bit of bitterness that I found quite pleasant on a moderately long finish. Shivi gives it potentially 4-5 years of cellaring, and I wouldn't say less!
Gvaot Gewürztraminer 2011: This very limited production of 550 bottles is made from one tiny single vineyard that you can see from the winery's building where sits the tasting room. I've posted already something on this wine a few weeks as we were then already given a sampler bottle, this wine should be released very soon although I don't know what's the exact date. I'm simply pasting my previous TN: a Gewurtzraminer very well crafted but definitely dry, medium-bodied and very pale in color with on the nose and palate citrus and floral notes and in excellent balance with acidity and good minerality there as well. Reminded me of an excellent one from Alsace I had a few years ago.
Gvaot Gofna Pinot Noir 2010: Have I waited for this wine! I was told that this should be released in about 3 weeks. Blended with 10% Merlot, a beautiful dark ruby, medium to full-bodied wine with on the nose red cherries, red currants and floral notes, these showing also on the palate with a bit of oak and nice, mouth-coating tannins on a long finish. A great Pinot Noir and as far as goes my (fairly poor) experience with kosher PN from Burgundy, one of the closest Israeli PN to the "original". Nice!
Gvaot Herodion Vineyard's Dance 2010: I love this wine and sipping it at this right moment with sun-dried tomatoes bread (Teller in Machanei Yehuda) and cream cheese... Dark garnet toward ruby, full-bodied with on the nose and palate black and raspberries, as well as cedar box and some notes of black currants, nice bracing and well balanced acidity, notes of vanilla rising with silky tannins on the very long finish. A great and elegant Bordeaux-blend.
Gvaot Merlot (blending component) 2010: Wow nice! This was a barrel tasting of one of the blending components of the winery's flagship wine, Masada, and would a great varietal wine on its own. Actually it reminded me a bit of the GHW Yarden Merlot Odem '06 which is one of my favorite Merlots and was ready for drinking, full-bodied with a nose packed with ripe, almost jammy raspberries, showing on the palate as well with blackberries and dark chocolate on the long mouth-filling finish. A treat.
Gvaot Petit Verdot (blending component) 2010: Also a barrel tasting component of the future Masada '10, a typical PV color of dark purple, medium to full-bodied with on the nose and palate black cherries and earthy green notes, these present also on the palate with some Mediterranean herbs on the moderately long and tannic finish. A bit flat and while I'm no winemaker at all, I believe also this should probably do a fine blending agent but not a very interesting varietal wine.
Gvaot Gofna Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: An advance tasting as the wine should be released soon. Dark garnet toward purple, full-bodied with on the nose and palate ripe black currants and blackberries, with some hint of sweetness on the mid-palate, mouth-coating tannins and a hint of spiciness and notes of sweet oak rising on the long finish. A bit too young but I assume this will be a great wine in 10-12 months.
Overall we had a great time and if Shivi and/or Eliav or even Amnon Weiss ever happen to come across this post, thanks and kudos!