Visit to Galil Mountain Winery for Launching of Wines

Driving to the GM Winery

We’re off — Driving to the winery

It was a beautiful summer morning on Friday, the 30th of August, when we joined Naftali, Asher, and Papo to participate in the Galil Mountain Winery’s presentation of a very special wine, Yiron, named after the kibbutz which owns some 33% of the winery. We loved this wine in its previous vintages, and were interested to taste the latest one. It is a bit of interesting economic history that the Golan Winery owns the other 67% as a hedge against the Golan Heights no longer being part of Israel. Galil Mountain Winery continues to grow, and, as do their wines, the winery matures and improves. This year the production reached 1,150,000 bottles. But I digress, and to return to the subject of this article, the Yiron wine is also the flagship wine of Galil Mountain Winery. As usual, the event was orchestrated to the nth degree with no detail left undone.

Israelwinetaster Welcoming All to EventWe arrived on time at 11 AM to be greeted by staff members toSarit, Chief of Visitors Room record our attendance and to offer us a cooled glass of their 2012 vintage Viognier, one of their wines that I particularly like, and my favorite of this varietal, compared to the Viognier of other wineries in the north. As usual it is light and fruity, but balanced by a small portion of it having been aged in oak. I must add that this year they started producing two Viogniers. The “Galil Mountain Series” Viognier, which they call the “Young” one is, like the original in that it is fermented only in stainless steel vats. Forty percent of the slightly more expensive “Galil” Series is fermented in oak casks. It costs 55 shekels compared to 43 shekels for the “Young” Viognier. More on this in a future tasting when I will compare the two, but to move on, as we approached the main entrance of the winery visitors center, we were faced with a display of beautifully presented Poster of Yiron Wine Past Prizesposters describing some of the history of the wines, music from an ensemble, breads and olive oil, and tasting tables of several red wines including one they call Friends, and two from their Galil Series, Alon, and Ela. I avoided the Friends wine as I was not a lover of this blend sold only to the winery club members. I must really give it another chance at some time in the future, especially at home with dinner. The Alon was light and fresh with hints of prunes, pepper, and mild tannins. This is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Syrah and 7% Petit Verdot, and 7% Cabernet Franc. It is a wonderful everyday wine to be enjoyed now, although I would not be surprised if it aged well in the proper conditions of storage for the next few years . The Ela is a blend of 73% Syrah, 23% Barbera, and 4% Petit Verdot. As I had experienced in the past, is a bit bold and “in your face” for my taste. The Barbera variety in this blend imparts these aspects to the wine and gives it an Independence Day fireworks type of drinking experience.

Galil Mountain Winery Tasting RoomThe morning continued as they allowed the participants to arrive and fill up the front open space which was used for the participants to stand and taste the wines, and enjoy the music and breads. Tables had been set up in the visitors center itself where racks of wines are usually on display, and this area also filled with guests. The balcony outside was also arranged with tables, and it, too, became filled. But despite a full house of approximately 250 guests, these various areas were never crowded. photo 4The balcony also served as the grill cooking area at one end and the smells of roasting eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and finally chicken and Charcoal Grilling -- Mmmmmm Smells Good!kebab filled the air. Announcements were made by Uri Tyroler, the winery CEO, and finally, at noon the Yiron wine was poured and the food was served buffet style. The sequencing of the event was carried out as a symphony with the winery staff acting as the orchestra and the CEO, the composer and conductor. The food and the Yiron wine were the grand finale. Bravo!! Encore!!!

The 2010 vintage of the Yiron Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Survignon, Merlot, and Petit YironVerdot presented itself as a complexity of aromas after I allowed to to “open up” while swirling the wine in my glass. After these several minutes of aeration. the initial unbalanced harshness of pent up tannins dissipated and the wine regained its proper gentleness. As previous vintages at this stage in its life, it is young and high in tannins. It most certainly will age well to be ready to be opened and appreciated in 3 to 5 years. To open and drink it now would not be doing it justice. The carton of 12 bottles that I purchased will remain in our wine cellar for now and I will have to wait.

The event was typical of those put on by the highly professional staff of the Galil Mountain Winery and, in my opinion, reflected the attention to detail that is manifest in their wines as well as their events. I have always enjoyed visiting this winery, both just to go there without an appointment in order to taste and purchase a few wines, as well as to attend a major event there such as this one. As many times as I have been there, I don’t think I have ever published a series of photos of the winery. So I here present a slide show of pictures that I took of the working area of the winery:

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Tasting Yiron 2009 from Galil Mountain Winery

photoWe have previously tasted and written about two previous vintages of one of our favorite wines, the Bordeaux style blend flagship wine of one of our favorite wineries, Galil Mountain which is located at Kibbutz Yiron. Those previously tasted were from the 2006 vintage and the 2007 vintage. Last night we opened the subject of this article, the 2009 vintage. I am going to write about it and only then read what we wrote about the previous vintages so as not to be influenced by our previous opinions.

Tasting - Nurit Testing Rose Before the TastingI needn’t describe this winery as you can easily read about it in previous articles as well as see it for yourself in these three panoramic vistas from their website. We’ve been there many times, including enjoying their events and barbecues. But I digress. The Yiron blend has varied in its mix from year to year, including as little as 48% Cabernet Sauvignon in the 2006 vintage. The 2009 vintage is more in keeping with the classic Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and a pinch of something else, in this case, 5% Petit Verdot. For more technical data we refer you to the winery’s web site’s page detailing aspects of the harvest and production methods.

YIRON BOTTLEThe alcohol content has seemed to be rising in recent years from the 13.9% of the first vintage of Yiron in 2000. This goes along with the trend throughout Israel and this year’s Yiron vintage qualifies as a “high alcohol wine,” with its 15.5% alcohol. This subject has been nicely discussed in a Wall Street Journal Article by Lettie Teague, in which she quotes some sommeliers as saying, “the heightened alcohol exaggerates everything, turning the wine into some sort of terrible caricature of itself. Apparently they have even used words like “monstrous,” “fruit bombs,” as well as “Frankenwine” to describe these wines they consider unbalanced in the sense that alcohol, they say, exaggerates everything. But in the end of her balanced article, Teague quotes Aldo Sohm, wine director of Le Bernardin in New York as saying, “It’s like the fat in the meat.” In this sense it is the alcohol that delivers the flavors. And this wine we drank sure does deliver. It has rich earthy aromas of our compost pile at our house in the hills. This, combined with a complex variety of flavors of peanuts and prunes with the smells of burnt wood and the ashes of the barbecue. It is rich in tannins that are not in any way harsh and which blend in with the flavors of dried prunes mixed with fresh plums. It has a super-long finish with bursting buds of flavors long after the wine has gone from the mouth.

Deep Purple In Decanter

Deep Purple In Decanter

We rate it an A despite its slightly high cost, although I found it on an internet search on Wine-Searcher.com selling from between $19 to $29 at a number of wine merchants in the NY/NJ area. There was one from Ohio selling it at $33. The east coast prices are roughly equivalent to what it sells for at the winery, approximately 90 shekels. This wine will definitely age well in ideal storage such as one of the many available and reasonably priced wine refrigerators. Enjoy this wine on special occasions and when you really want to treat yourself. L’Haim