A Wine Lover’s Monthly Review Of Upscale Wine – A Non-Kosher Bordeaux Blend From Israel

Most of our reviewed wines are not Kosher. But this is only the second time that such status appears in the article title. Why? In part to help dispel the misconception that all Israeli wines are Kosher. The word Gat is Hebrew for a wine press such as shown in the pre-Roman version below. Harel Vineyards is situated in the foothills of the Judean Mountains, a great wine making site for some three millennia. They exploit almost 50 acres (about 19 hectares). Their first wines were the 2001 vintage and they produce about 50 thousand bottles a year. The companion wine is a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon that costs one fifth as much. It too isn’t Kosher. By the way, I hope you aren’t upset that I broke my $50 minimum for a wine featured in this column. I’m not.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review were purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
Clos de Gat Ayalon Valley 2007 14 % alcohol about $48.

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials.. “Description : Clos de Gat is a play on words as Clos is the French word for a walled vineyard and Gat is the Hebrew name for an ancient wine press. Tasting Note : As always, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot (60%, 30% and 10% respectively ), showing full-bodied and reflecting its 18 months in new oak with gentle influences of spicy oak and abundant but soft, gently caressing tannins. Impenetrably dark garnet in color, showing black fruits on the nose, opening in the glass to reveal currant and blackberry fruits and, from mid-palate on, hints of blueberries. Long and generous with tannins rising with the fruits on the finish. Approachable now but best 2013-2019. Score – 94. (Daniel Rogov, at the haaretz web site, Feb. 3, 2011).”

Before I go to my review, I would like once again to pay tribute to Israel’s top wine reviewer, Daniel Rogov now deceased. When the noted film critic Robert Ebert died, I could not help but think about Daniel who was in the same league. But as for film, not everyone agrees about wine. That’s part of the fun. And now for my review.

At the first sips the wine was subtle and yet powerful. It had medium length and was multilayered. The initial meal centered on store-bought barbecued, all too chewy overcooked beef ribs. Chocolate came to the fore in my glass. This liquid was sweeter than I’d like. A red cabbage and mayonnaise salad darkened the juice. I got dark cherries but didn’t like the sugar. In response to my slathering fiery Yemeni green jalapeno sauce on the meat, the libation’s sweetness still remained but some good oak emerged. When wedded to very tasty homemade garlicky, oily roasted eggplant, this blend started off with great acidity and nothing else. Then I noted that its tannins were balanced. In response to a square of Swiss dark bittersweet chocolate our Israeli friend remained strong and long, coming up with some good oak.

The second meal focused on a paprika dusted barbecued chicken breast. Now my costly buddy was very long, offering chocolate and a great balance between acidity and tannins. It was multilayered with dark cherries. I’m sorry to report that it was once again too sweet. Pairing with zesty guacamole slightly flattened these fermented grapes. Fruit juice candy made my wine less, a lot less, in fact just a bit of dark cherries.

The final meal involved a boxed cheese pizza (I suspect that the box was almost as tasty as the pizza) that I liberally doused with grated Parmesan cheese to no avail. The juice responded with caramel and vanilla. This pairing excised the excessive sweetness from my glass. It was round and had good length, great oak (I’m not usually a fan), and tobacco and was so so long. It is hard to imagine such a delicious wine with such as tasteless meal. Fresh strawberries imparted a pleasant oak and tobacco taste to the wine that did end up muted.

Final verdict. I will definitely not buy this wine again. Ever. As Mark Twain said, “It is difference of opinion that makes horse races.”

Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but prefers drinking fine wine. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his wine, nutrition, and health website www.wineinyourdiet.com .

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