Deep ruby color; cherry, raspberry on the nose; cherry, plum, blackberry, blackcurrant, raspberry, chocolate, oak spice on the palate.
Dry; silky tannin; balancing acidity (3.6 pH). I last reviewed the 2013 vintage; comparing my notes, four years later there is slightly less emphasis on black fruits, but again is easy drinker. This is not a massive cab, rather a very approachable, tasty effort. As the 2013 effort, this drinks more like a cab-merlot blend than a big boy cab. Full in the mouth, medium-full body. Kosher for Passover; 14.5% ABV.
Winemaker Victor Schoenfeld picked elegance and approachability over power. Medium finish, with oak, fruit sweetness, smoothness presenting mid-palate through the end. This spent 18 months in French oak, but I think it unlikely it was all new oak. There is oak here, but it is restrained and by no means a leading player in this drama.
The vines were planted in 1976, three years after Israel gained the territory in the Yom Kippur War. The Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983, two years after Israel extended Israeli law and administration in the territory. Golan Heights Winery includes four brands: Yarden, Golan Heights, Gilgal, and Mount Hermon.
The Golan Heights Winery is Israel’s leading premier wine maker. Wine Enthusiast named it “New World Winery of the Year” in 2012. The “New World” designation is amusing since it is hard to imagine Israel and the Middle East qualifying as “new world”—but in wine business, New World covers all the wineries not in Europe and adjacent, long-time wine producing countries. The Golan Heights winery and tasting room get very high marks on TripAdvisor; visitors can have a Jeep ride through the vineyards before enjoying apparently (according to several reviewers) great food.
Golan Heights Winery’s 1,500 acres of vineyards stretch from the Sea of Galilee to the snow-capped peaks of Mount Hermon—a region where wine has been made for more than 6,000 years, but only in the past three decades have modern, quality wine efforts been in place. The Golan Heights Winery’s acres are divided into 28 vineyards (96% in Golan Heights) and 430 individual blocks. Each block is monitored individually, then harvested individually and the fruit kept separate through the winemaking process until final blending. There are 16 vine growers who grow 20 grape varieties, 13 red and seven white.
Golan Heights Winemaker Victor Schoenfeld is one of Israel’s most influential winemakers. He graduated from UC Davis in 1988 with a degree in enology. He worked at Robert Mondavi and Preston Vineyards in Sonoma, then Jacquesson & Fils Champagne house before joining Golan Heights. Schoenfeld is strong advocate for new wine-making technology and precise climatic and viticultural analysis. Not surprisingly, the winery embraces sustainable agriculture and environmental responsibility, including solar and wind power, wastewater management, and composting instead of chemical fertilizers.
Golan Heights Winery Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 is tame and tasty pure cab play from Israel’s leading premier wine maker. Softly delicious in the mouth with restrained tannin and oak. Kosher Lamehadrin—the most stringent level of kosher supervision. Kosher for Passover. Not mevushal—which means it was not boiled, even briefly. That is a good thing, since not heating the wine preserves the flavors, and this wine delivers nice Golan Heights fruit flavors. Pair with pan-seared ribeye, grilled steaks, lamb, veal, duck, wild game casseroles and stews, mushroom stroganoff. $25-34