Shvo Vineyards, Upper Galilee
Part 1 of a series on the wines of Israel


Gaby Sadan

Gaby Sedan has owned this small vineyard in the Upper Galilee since 2007. Previously he’d been winemaker at Golan Heights, and then the founding winemaker at the associated Galil Mountain Winery. His first vintage here was 2009, a small vintage, with 2010 and 2011 growing in volume, although because of the low yields (30 hl/ha), there’s not a lot of wine.

The Shvo vineyard is almost 10 hectares, and currently around 8 of these are in production. The varieties grown include Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Syrah, Grenache, Barbera and Mourvèdre. He works sustainably with no herbicides, and uses compost. Altitude here is around 800 metres, which moderates the temperature.

The Grenache and Mourvèdre are grown as bush vines, and when I visited they were looking quite beautiful. The wines are made in a functional and non-glamorous facility that Gaby has rented in the village of Gush Halav (aka Jish), which is an Arab/Christian village. 

Gaby is a talented, visionary winemaker, and a hipster cool dude to boot. I love his wines and I really like what he's doing with his vineyards.  

THE WINES 

Shvo Vineyards Rosé 2011 Upper Galilee, Israel
95% Barbera, 5% Grenache. Really nice wine-like rosé that reminds winemaker Gaby Sedan of pink Champagne in character. It's directly pressed with indigenous yeast fermentation at a relatively high temperature (18-20 C). 9 months sur lie in tank. Lovely citrus and mineral characters. Fresh and fine with just a hint of cherry fruit. Crisp, taut and quite serious. 90/100

Shvo Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Upper Galilee, Israel
hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed, natural acidity. The wine is settled overnight, so the juice isn’t too clean. Two thirds is fermented in old 400 litre barrels, the rest in tanks. Wild yeast ferment. Very fine, mellow, textured and yet fresh, with a creamy edge to the pear, peach and citrus fruit. Fresh and expressive but not showy with richness and depth. ‘I’m a big mid-palate person,’ says Gaby, ‘I don’t like wines that are hollow even if they are aromatic’. 91/100

Shvo Chenin Blanc 2010 Upper Galilee, Israel
Gaby Sadan’s vineyard is amazing, and if this is what he can do in the very hot 2010 vintage, I’m looking forward to seeing his 2011s. It shows real Chenin personality, with a hint of mineral reduction and flavours of apples, pears, spice and herbs. There’s a bit of acidic bite, too. 93/100

Shvo Red 2010 Upper Galilee, Israel
This is not a GSM, but a BGSM – a Barbera, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre blend. It’s sweetly aromatic, fine and spicy with supple, elegant berry fruits, and some floral cherry notes. For a ripe year, it’s lovely and quite fresh. 92/100

See a short film of Gaby and his vineyards:


Wines tasted 05/13  
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