Some top wines from Israel

I’m on my way home after a just a couple of great days exploring the wines of Israel. So here are my notes on an assorted collection of 16 different wines, which I’ve selected from the larger pool of wines that I tried on my trip.

Château Golan Gesham Red 2005 Golan Heights, Israel
This is Grenache with a bit of Syrah. Nice pure cherry fruit aromatics: very pure with some floral notes and fine spiciness. The palate is tight, focused and pure with lovely elegance and fine structure. Bright cherries, bitter plums, good acidity and fine spiciness all work well together to produce an amazing wine. 94/100

Château Golan Syrah 2011 Golan Heights, Israel
Very pure, sweet and fine with floral black cherry fruit nose. Fresh, lively palate with great acidity: really pure and focused with brilliant definition and some grippy tannins. Just brilliant. 94/100

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

Dalton Semillon 2012 Western Galilee, Israel
This is the first release of this wine, a single vineyard Semillon from the Elkosh vineyard, fermented in older barrels. Very stylish with intergrated oak notes, and flavours of grapefruit, lemons, herbs and wax. This will age beautifully, too. 92/100

Dalton Cabernet Sauvignon Meron Vineyard 2011 Western Galilee, Israel
Sweet herbal nose with some eucalyptus notes, and a hint of mint, but the dominant theme is ripe, berryish, blackcurrant fruit. Ripe, supple and sweet on the palate with some chalk and spice characters. Stylish. 92/100

Kishor Vineyard White 2012 Western Galilee, Israel
An 80/20 blend of Sauvignon and Viognier, co-fermented, from a 6 hectare vineyard in a valley at 500 m, made by Itay Lahat. Very fresh and aromatic with some pear and peach notes as well as a bit of spice. Lively and textured, with lovely freshness. 92/100

Segals Dovev Rehasim Argaman 2008 Upper Galilee, Israel
Made from the Argaman variety, an Israeli cross of Carignan and Sousão, this is an unashamedly big, bold, structured red wine showing dense black fruits, notes of pepper and tar, and real richness. Dense and modern, but not spoofy and overripe. 91/100

Lueria Rosso 2011 Upper Galilee, Israel
A blend with a high proportion of Barbera and Sangiovese, this actually tastes quite Italian. It’s very fresh with some raspberry and bitter plum notes, as well as herbs, tar and some spicy bite. Satisfying stuff. 90/100

Galil Mountain Viognier 2011 Galilee, Israel
A forward, bold expression of Viognier, but it really works. Ripe spicy pear and peach fruit with appealing aromatics and a rounded texture. Ripe and exotic, yet still fresh. 90/100

Ortal Merlot 2010 Golan Heights, Israel
Very classic Merlot, showing lovely intensity and structure: I reckon it will age well for 15 years. 60% new oak shows a little, but is well integrated, and there’s a lovely dense, spicy structural core to the ripe yet restrained, concentrated fruit. 93/100

Carmel Appellation Cabernet Franc 2009 Judean Hills, Israel
Fresh and varietally true with ripe, slightly green (in a nice way), chalky, gravelly berry fruits. Good texture and freshness, and a bit of tannic grip. Nice wine. 90/100

Yarden Malbec 2010 Golan Heights, Israel
Yarden is the top brand from Golan Heights, one of Israel’s big 3 wine producers, and this Malbec is impressive. Very nice floral, open, fresh berry fruits nose leads to an admirably pure, silky, fresh palate showing lovely definition. 91/100

Yarden Katzin 2008 Golan Heights, Israel
A Cabernet/Merlot blend. Spicy, tarry, gravelly black fruits nose. The palate is sweet, supple and nicely textured with some savoury, gravelly, mineral notes. Stylish effort. 93/100

Tzora Vineyards Neve Ilan 2011 Judean Hills, Israel
This is a Chardonnay, no malolactic fermentation. Lively, bright and focused. Precise with lovely minerality, some pithy notes and great precision and acidity.  A lovely tight style. 92/100

Tzora Vineyards Misty Hills 2010 Judean Hills, Israel
A single-plot wine that blends 55% Cabernet Sauvignon with 45% Syrah. Lovely bright berry and blackcurrant fruit with some gravel and spice notes. Very fine and quite long with some supple, attractive green notes. 92/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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