(By Gabriel Geller. Gabriel Geller is an international wine consultant currently with Netofa Winery and regularly writes about Kosher Wine in different online publications)
The Galil Mountain Winery is one of the largest wineries in Israel. The winery was founded in 2000 as a joint venture between Kibbutz Yiron in the Upper Galilee, where it is located, and the Golan Heights Winery.
The wines of GMW actually share a lot with those of the sister winery. These are indeed modern, well-made “New World” wines, reflecting the local terroir, the professionalism of head winemaker Micha Vaadia, state-of-the-art facilities as well as the most cutting edge equipment.
Since the first vintage of GMW 15 years ago, the Yiron, which is the winery’s flagship wine, has made for itself a reputation of a premium blend counting among Israel’s best as well as featuring complexity and a respectable cellaring potential while retaining a relatively affordable price tag, which is the policy for all wines of the winery as GMW provides year in - year out high value for money with most of its wines.
I visited the winery a few weeks ago, and that has not only allowed me to assess that their most recent wines maintain overall the quality level which has made the winery successful both in Israel and abroad, but also to discover a brand new wine, quite a nice one for this coming summer and which will be available, at least in Israel, only at the winery as well as at some carefully selected restaurants throughout the country.
Following, you will find my tasting notes for most of the winery’s current releases:
GMW, Rosé 2014: Like its predecessors, this rosé is a blend of Pinot Noir, Barbera, Grenache and Sangiovese. Bright shining red in color, with on the nose fresh red currants, strawberries, cherries as well as some floral notes. Light to medium-bodied with on the palate tart raspberries and strawberries, sour cherries and juicy tangerine with medium-plus acidity and a round, refreshing finish. A simple summer wine that fulfills its role perfectly and should be a great companion with BBQ or simply on its own as an aperitif, with or without some light snacks on the side on a hot summer afternoon. 12.5% Abv.
GMW, Viognier 2014: One of two Viognier wines made by this winery, the least expensive of them as well as the better one in my opinion. Light gold in color with some green reflections, the nose features notes of spring flowers, apricots and banana. Rather light in body with a slightly oily mouth-feel, showing on the palate crisp stone fruits such as apricots and peaches as well as mango and lemon custard. High acidity gives this wine a nice kick as well as a long, somewhat minty and refreshing finish. Not really complex, this wine remains a very well-made one providing high QPR and quite an easy one to find in most wine shops and Israeli supermarkets. 15% Abv.
GMW, Galil, Sauvignon Blanc 2014 : While this wine might not be the most well-known one of its category, it is nonetheless one of Israel’s best SBs. Made in relatively small quantities, it is not easy to come by and most aficionados know not to miss an opportunity to buy it when such opportunity arises. Very pale yellow in color, with on the nose lemon, fresh apricots as well as hints of freshly cut grass. Light and even somewhat fluffy on the palate with citrus notes, loquat and peaches. The finish is moderately long showing some pleasant, grassy bitterness. 13% Abv.
GMW, Galil, Viognier 2014: So this is the « higher end » Viognier of the winery, it is partially (about 60% of the wine) aged in oak barrels to give it more body, structure and complexity. Bright straw in color with on the nose stone fruits, mango as well as notes of vanilla. More oily on the palate than its unoaked “little brother”, the medium-bodied palate features notes of ripe apricots, yellow plums, some hints of butter and spicy vanilla with medium-plus acidity carrying the wine well through the long and round finish. The bitterness and vanilla provided by the oak here are a bit too much pronounced for me however I’m pretty sure that many will like it. 14% Abv.
GMW, Blanc de Noir 2014: So this is the novelty of the year! Blanc de Noir literally means White from Black in French, as it is a white wine made with red grapes but without any skin contact, and since it’s the skins that taint the wine as the flesh of all grapes is actually white, the result is a white wine. An unoaked blend of 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Grenache, both grown in the same Yiron vineyard. Very pale gold in color with slightly pink reflections, the nose features aromas of stone fruits, wild strawberries, raspberries and cherries with a hint of jasmine. Light to medium in body, the palate features an interesting and unusual texture, subtle, round and grassy altogether with notes of peaches, strawberries and apricots with medium acidity and a moderately long finish. This is not a great wine however it is tasty and different and it’s for sure worth buying if you can, even if only to check it out at least once. 12.5% Abv.
GMW, Merlot 2013: This unoaked Merlot is dark cherry red in color with on the nose black and raspberries, plums as well as a light hint of nutmeg. Medium-bodied with much of the same on the palate as well as good acidity and tannins that gently coat the mouth on the moderately long finish. A well-made, balanced and easy drinking table wine. 14.5% Abv.
GMW, Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: Same here, an unoaked CabSav. Deep garnet in color with on the nose notes of somewhat overripe black forest fruits as well as prunes, dried fruits and a touch of roasted herbs. Pretty much the same on the palate with some unpleasant perceived sweetness coming in the form of overripe and jammy fruit and the low acidity does not help much. As opposed to the Merlot, this wine doesn’t do it for me. 15% Abv.
GMW, Galil, Barbera 2012: This Barbera was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Deep black cherry in color with on the nose ripe red berry fruits, pepper and toasty oak. Medium-bodied with on the palate red forest fruit, plums, grilled herbs, freshly ground pepper and coffee with high acidity and soft tannins that rise on the moderately long finish. This wine was a bit lacking in balance and coherence but perhaps some bottle ageing might be able to solve these issues. 14% Abv.
GMW, Galil, Ela 2012: A blend of Barbera, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot which was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Nice dark garnet in color, with on the nose ripe strawberries, black currants as well as notes of green bell pepper, spices and vanilla. Medium in body, showing on the palate red and black berry fruit as well as purple plums, tobacco leaves, freshly cracked pepper and coffee with good balancing acidity and silky tannins on the long enough finish. Whereas the 2011 lacked balance for my taste with too much oak flavors this one is actually pretty nice. 14.5% Alc.
GMW, Meron 2010: One of the 2 « high end » red wines of the winery, this is a blend made primarily with Syrah, complemented by Cabernet Sauvignon and flushed out with Petit Verdot, aged for 16 months in French oak barrels. Deep purple in color, with on the nose notes of overripe black fruits such as prunes, cassis and blackberries as well as dried fruits, cinnamon and sweet vanilla. Full-bodied and extracted with much of the same on the palate including heavy perceived sweetness. The acidity seems too low to balance out the sweetness and the ripe tannins are integrating. This was a very nice and pleasant wine a bit over a year ago when I first tasted it however it seems pretty clear that it is now past its peak. Drink up. 15.5% Abv.
GMW, Yiron 2011: The Yiron is back! Finally! After 4 vintages as a classic Bordeaux blend and being more approachable and fruit-forward with a very and dare I say overripe 2010 vintage, the Yiron is back to its old roots with the 2011 vintage. This year, the blend is made of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 7% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, aged 16 months in French oak barrels. Dark garnet towards royal purple with on the nose ripe blackberries, roasted herbs, leather and tar. Full-bodied with on the palate loads of ripe black fruit, plums, tar, Mediterranean herbs, freshly cracked pepper, roasted coffee and saddle leather with plenty of bright acidity and searing tannins coating the mouth on the long finish. This wine, IMHO the best since the 2007, is still young and needs many hours of decanting at this point to be approachable, will evolve and start showing its true potential in 1-2 years. 15% Abv.