Wine Reviews: Golan Heights

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-29-2018

thumdbnailGolan Heights Winery has been a key player in shaping the modern Israeli wine industry. After first planting vines in the Golan Heights in the late 1970s, the winery was founded in 1983. Thirty-five years later, it now boats almost 30 different vineyards, growing 20 different varieties, and the winery exports to more than 30 countries.

The Golan Heights family includes such wine brands as Yarden, Mount Hermon, and the U.S. brand Gilgal. Yes, the wines are kosher (and have been since inception), but don’t let that fact alone impact your opinion about their quality.

In January, Golan Heights became the first international winery to be certified by the Lodi Rules, a sustainable farming initiative started by Lodi, California winemakers. At the time, Winemaker Victor Schoenfeld, said, “We very much see ourselves as caretakers of a very special spot on the planet. We hope to act as a model for others in the Israeli wine industry in order to promote sustainability in our industry as a whole.”

So, how are the wines? I recently received four sample wines from Golan Heights (which I tasted sighted) and found a lot to get excited about. Dig in below!

2017 Golan Heights Winery Gewürztraminer YardenIsrael, Galilee, Golan Heights
SRP: $23
Light gold color. Lush aromatics of lychee, glazed pear, apricot marmalade, some honey, but also lots of bright, floral, spicy elements that pop. Full-bodied on the palate, but moderating acidity keeps it zippy. Rich tropical fruits (papaya, apricot, pineapple), but also some zesty lime on top. Notes of spiced white tea, wild green herbs and honeysuckle add complexity, but this is so bright and easy to sip. Impressive example of this wine, and I really like the tropical but crisp style. (90 points)

2016 Gilgal Syrah RoséIsrael, Galilee, Golan Heights
SRP: $17
Rich watermelon color. Nose shows deep fruit (red cherries, strawberries, red apples) along with enticing notes of white pepper, rose hips and honey. Medium-bodied but lots of rich, fleshy fruit (strawberries, cherries, watermelon, red apple), but zesty acidity keeps it fresh, and the balance is really nice. Nuanced notes of roses, rhubarb, bay leaf, white pepper. Bold enough to stand up to lots of foods but still a vibrant wine. A delicious, eye-opening rosé for me. (90 points)

2014 Gilgal SyrahIsrael, Galilee, Golan Heights
SRP: $17
Rich purple color. Lovely aromas of juicy, ripe blackberries, roasted plums, black cherry, black pepper, sweet barbecue sauce, with some anise, coffee, bitter olive. Full and saucy but fresh acidity keeps the lips smacking, with velvety, slightly chewy tannins. Loaded with earthy, charcoal, black pepper, sweet barbecue sauce, a kind of sautéed mushroom note, too. Interesting, delicious, vibrant Syrah. Aged 12 months in French oak. (88 points)

2014 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon YardenIsrael, Galilee
SRP: $35
Light purple color. Waves of black currant, roasted fig and blackberry on the nose, along with anise, eucalyptus, coffee grounds and cedar. Full-bodied, quite sturdy with grippy tannins, medium acidity. Black cherries and blackberry, rich but tart fruit, with powerful notes of cedar and dark chocolate, and notes of herbs, scorched earth, tar and anise. Could use 3-5 years to develop, but this is a delicious Cab. Aged 18 months in 40% new French oak. (89 points)

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