Gvaot Winery’s latest releases
The next winery that I enjoyed on my last trip to Israel and Europe, was Gvaot Winery. It has been too long since my last post on a visit to Gvaot winery – so I made it my priority on this trip to Israel, to get to Gvaot Winery and visit with Shivi Drori, the head winemaker. As was common throughout my trip, each of the wineries was in the middle of harvest, so my many thanks to Mr. Drori for finding the time to sit down with me and taste through his wines.
Gvaot Winery is one of the few wineries that did not produce their wine lineup in 2015, this past Shmita. They made some whites, but not many at all, and they did them under the Otzar Beit Din, which was unique for anyone who made wine this past Shmita. As discussed in past posts, most of the Israeli wineries this past Shmita, that made wine did so using Heter Mechira, citing issues with the beit din, costs, and restrictions that did not work for them.
Like many of the wineries in Israel, Gvaot has changed over their labels. Gone is the Herodian wine line, as it was confusing to some. The Gofna and Masada wine lines stay.
So, what that now means is that there will be three wine lines, the Gvaot Winery line, which has the whites, rose (when made), a Cabernet, a Merlot, and the two dances wines that are blends, Dances in White (a blend of Chardonnay and Gewurtztraminer) and vineyard dance, a red blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, and sometimes other fruit. Then there is the Gofna label that has the Chard/Cabernet blend, the Petite Verdot, the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Pinot Noir, and the new Wind and Sun port-like wine. Finally, there is the Masada line which always has the flagship wine of the winery, and in the past also had the beautiful Pinot Noir.
Just walking outside the winery takes you to another place altogether. The landscape is beautiful, the winery is surrounded by vineyards and mountains in the distance stretch on forever. It is truly one of the few wineries in Israel that could place the words “estate-bottled” on their labels if it were allowed in Israel.
The prices in Israel have come down a bit, but they are still too steep for me ever to apply the QPR label upon the winery’s wines. That said the wines are very good and some are well worth finding.
There will be a rose again in 2017, from the looks of it. The winery produced 40K bottles in 2016 and looks to be bottling 50K in 2017. My many thanks again to Shivi Drori and the rest of the winery for putting up with me in the middle of harvest. The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:
2016 Gvaot Chardonnay/Cabernet Sauvignon, Gofna – Score: A-
This wine is a unique blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon juice that was not allowed to sit on its skins, leaving it clear. The wine was aged in barrels for 8 months.
The nose on this wine is lovely and smokey showing lovely flint, with orange and nectarines, nuts and butter. The mouth is creamy and balanced with lovely spice, nice nutmeg with good weight, with lovely creamy notes and almost oily texture, showing green and yellow apple, peach and rich mineral. The finish is long and spicy, showing creamy and tart at the same time, with great sophistication and rich fruit, all balanced well with mineral, acid, nice citrus zest. Drink by 2019.
2016 Gvaot Gewurtztraminer (dry) – Score: B+
The nose on this wine is intense and tart with rich honeysuckle, lychee, pear, lovely tart pineapple, and great citrus. The mouth is medium bodied, showing nice weight, with green notes and passion fruit that gives way to fruit and spice but has nice acid without being over tart. There is not much complexity to the wine, though it is quite enjoyable. The finish is nice with good zest, pith, and light bitter notes. Drink up!
Nv Gvaot Wind and Sun, Gofna – Score: A-
This port-like wine is made of 100% Merlot and was left to age in barrels using the Solera process. The nose on this wine is lovely with string notes of cacao, with roasted nuts and almonds, rich dark fruit, and heady spice. The mouth is full-bodied and mouth coating with a nice balance of rich fruit, blackberry, raspberry and rich nuts, rich chocolate with great spice, with interesting green notes, caramel, and rich coffee blended with sweet tobacco. The finish is long, rich, layered, and inky with chocolate that lingers forever with great acid, rich tannin that lingers with sweet notes and Tart berry. Bravo! Drink by 2026.
2014 Gvaot Pinot Noir, Gofna – Score: A-
Another smash hit in the world of Pinot Noir. There are so few real options for kosher Pinot Noir, it is nice to have a dependable option, even if it is pretty expensive. The nose is inky, with lovely cherry, raspberry, showing floral notes, heather and roasted herbs and mint. The mouth is balanced with good medium body showing green notes, with nice sweet cedar, and good juicy strawberry, giving way to sweet dill and rich mineral, with good fruit focus and mouth coating tannin, giving way to earth and dirt. The finish is long and green, with lovely foliage, tobacco, with red fruit and nice herbs. Bravo! Drink by 2022.
2014 Gvaot Merlot – Score: A-
Another solid wine and this is under the old Herodian label that is now just called Gvaot. This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Petite Verdot. The wine was aged in oak barrels for 12 months. The nose on this wine is lovely, and classic Merlot in style, with lovely green notes, showing garrigue and earthy notes, with black pepper, nice red forest berry, and lovely spice. The mouth is nice and weighty, almost inky, with great green and red fruit with raspberry, dark cherry, with lovely green notes showing green drill, tobacco, and currant giving way to mouth coating tannin and foliage and spice. The finish is long and spicy and green with great balance and earth and leather with tobacco and smoke, cloves, chocolate, and more pepper. Nice! Drink by 2021.
2014 Gvaot Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A-
The Gvaot labels are two for two with the Merlot and now this Cabernet, both are solid wines. The nose on this wine is akin to its Merlot brother, very varietally correct. This wine is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot and aged in oak for 12 months.
The nose on this wine is classicly Cabernet, with inky notes, tar, graphite, black forest berry, balanced with green notes, roasted herb, with blackberry and red fruit. The mouth on the full-bodied wine is ripe, not overly pushed with nice extraction, good fruit structure, that gives way to a creamy and buttery mouth, with great spices and black currant, blackberry, cassis with chocolate and lovely green notes. The finish is long and tannic with spice, green notes, showing dirt and rich tobacco, leather, and tart fruit. Nice. Roasted herb lingers long. Drink by 2021.
2014 Gvaot Petit Verdot, Gofna – Score: A-
This is the second vintage of this wine and it is nice, it is made from 100% Petit Verdot that was aged in oak for 12 months. The nose on this lovely wine is varietally correct with its lovely notes of roasted animal, green notes, with rich blueberry, raspberry, and lovely ripe and tart fruit. The mouth on this wine shows a medium plus body, with nice acidity, green notes, that are balanced well with plum, blackberry, earth, and lovely spices that are rich and heady, along with tobacco and lovely chocolate. The finish is long and green and well done showing tart and ripe fruit and nice set green tea. Bravo! This inky and powerful wine shows finesse but is a brute still with great graphite, mineral, and chalk. Nice! Drink by 2022.
2014 Gvaot Cabernet Sauvignon, Gofna – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot and was aged in oak for 20 months. This wine is dry farmed and you can feel it, this wine is a blockbuster, you are either going to like this kind of massiveness or you will walk away. To me, the wine is well balanced and is not over the top, even though it is a beast!
The nose on this wine shows hints of what the mouth will hit you with, black fruit, no red fruit here, massive black and hunkering, with rich tar, dirt, earth, but well balanced with lovely mineral, graphite, with hints of forest floor and mushroom. This wine is a full-bodied beast, it hits you in stages, first with huge mouth drying tannin, with rich layers and elegance, followed by layers of red fruits, raspberry, cherry, and rich cassis wrapped in layers of ink and black pepper, impressive. The finish is long and crazy impressive, with tobacco, rich saddle leather, rich spices that give way to chocolate, earth, rich tobacco, dry green notes, and mounds of foliage. Bravo! Drink by 2022.
2014 Gvaot Masada – Score: A-
This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 20% Petit Verdot. The wine was aged in oak for 22 months.
The nose on this wine is sheer elegance, refined and really impressive, showing notes of blueberry and raspberry, with lovely minerality and great finesse. The mouth is full bodied and rich with layers of finesse and green notes, showing layers and complexity, with lovely blackberry, rich earth, lovely control and sweet tannin focus, with time it opens to minerality, graphite, salinity and rich fruit but well controlled with impeccable finesse and control that balances the rich fruit, with with acid and lovely herbs. The finish is long, green, and well balanced with tobacco, dark chocolate, and herb. With time this will show lovely mushroom and green notes with spice and black tea. Drink by 2024.