Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.
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Daniel Rogov

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Chillag Winery: Visiting and Tasting

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:21 pm

Early this afternoon I found myself in Yahud at the Chillag winery there to do a tasting in the presence of winemaker Orna Chillag and several wine-writing colleagues – the tasting meant in part to celebrate the winery's 10th anniversary on the local wine scene.

After studying oenology in Piacenza, Italy, and working at the Antinori wineries in Tuscany, Orna Chillag released her first wines in Israel just a decade ago. Now located in a new facility in the industrial area of the town of Yahud, on the central plain, the winery relies on Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Upper Galilee and the Judean Mountains and recently planted its own Syrah, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. Production has grown from 4,000 bottles in 2002 to a current annual production of about 15,000 bottles.

Until 2005 the winery released wines in two series, Primo Riserva and Giovane. More recently the wines have been appearing in Primo, Solo and Vivo series, the first two meant for cellaring and the third released earlier and meant for drinking in its youth.

Chillag is a firm believer in chilling her grapes on arrival to about 8-10 degrees, to then encourage slow, colder than usual fermentation on the skins and only then to transfer the wines to French oak barriques. The truth is that I have appreciated the Chillag wines since they were first released and now, after this tasting and later this afternoon opening several other bottles in my own tasting room, it is clear that Chillag continues to comfortably earn the four stars (a winery that consistently produces good and often excellent wines) are awarded in my books. One small confession – although it was not offered to my colleagues, I did manage a barrel tasting of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. My sincere thanks to Orna and Yoram Chillag for their courtesies during my visit. My tasting notes follow. The wines written in italics are those currently on the market. To purchase wines directly from the winery or to arrange a visit and tasting telephone 054 4562057 or send an email to chillag@netvision.net.il

Best
Rogov

Chillag, Cabernet Sauvignon, Primo, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): Perhaps Chillag's best to date. Full-bodied, with dense ripe fruits and gripping but almost velvety tannins coming together in fine balance and structure. On the nose and palate opens with sweet raspberries and strawberries, those yielding to blackberry and currant notes. Different grapes, different methods and different vineyards but this one calls to mind fine Brunello di Montalcino. Destined for length, breadth and elegance. Best 2012-2018. Tentative Score 92-94.

Chillag, Cabernet Sauvignon, Primo, 2007 (Barrel Tasting): Deep garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, with silky-smooth tannins and gentle notes of sweet and spicy oak. On the nose and palate berry and chocolate notes following through to show mineral and floral notes. Round and long, perhaps Chillag's most Pomerol style wine. Best 2011-2017. Tentative Score 89-91. (Tasted 23 Jul 2009)

Chillag, Cabernet Sauvignon, Primo, 2004: Dark royal purple, oak-aged for 18 months, a full-bodied blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. Aromatic, with generous smoky cedar wood notes but those in fine balance with soft tannins and fruits. Opens with blackcurrants and blackberries, goes on to reveal raspberries, strawberries and notes of dark chocolate and licorice. Long, concentrated and elegant. Drink now-2012. NIS 170. Score 91. (Re-tasted 23 Jul 2009)

Chillag, Cabernet Sauvignon, Primo Riserva, 2002: The surprise of the tasting for me, the wine showing very nicely considering the problematic vintage year. Blended with 8% of Merlot, oak-aged for 17 months, continuing to show dark garnet with just a hint of clearing at the rim. A mature wine but one in fine shape indeed, showing spicy blackberry and currant fruits, notes of anise and an appealing sweet cedar note. Drinking nicely now but not for further cellaring. Score 89. (Re-tasted 23 Jul 2009)

Chillag, Cabernet Sauvignon, Primo Riserva, 2001: Tasted twice, the first time at the formal tasting from a bottle that had been opened five days earlier and had, alas gone on to find its place in puppy paradise, the second time from a bottle in my own cellar. Continuing to show full-bodied, with its tannins and the spicy wood now thoroughly integrated and yielding to currant, plum and blackberry fruits. Once gentle meaty and toasty accents are now rising. Still enjoyable although fully mature and perhaps a bit past its peak. Drink up. Score 89. (Re-tasted 23 Jul 2009)

Chillag, Cabernet Sauvignon, Primo Riserva, 2000: Garnet, showing a hint of browning, opening with a somewhat tarry-medicinal notes but then going on to reveal a medium-to full-bodied wine with plum, black currant and berry fruits, all with a hint of white chocolate. Mature, a bit past is peak but still holding its own nicely, perhaps now singing its swan's song. Drink up. Score 89. (Re-tasted 23 Jul 2009)

Chillag, Merlot, Primo Riserva, 2000: Blended with 10% of Cabernet Sauvignon, oak-aged for 12 months in French oak, showing dark garnet with hints of browning. Rapidly sliding past its peak but continuing to show medium- to full-bodied, with now soft tannins highlighting black fruits and spices. A first hint of oxidation setting in so drink up. Score 88. (Re-tasted 23 Jul 2009)

Chillag, Merlot, Solo, Judean Mountains, 2005: Showing much as at an earlier tasting (April 2009). Deep garnet towards royal purple, a full-bodied blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Developed in French oak for 18 months, showing generously spicy wood, that in fine balance with mouth-coating tannins and fruits. On the nose and palate ripe plums, wild berries, a hint of cherry liqueur and, on the long finish a generous touch of bittersweet chocolate. Drink now-2011. NIS 110. Score 90.

Chillag, Blend, Vivo, Judean Mountains, 2006: Garnet towards royal purple, medium- to full-bodied with soft tannins and notes of spicy wood. Opens to reveal appealing plum and raspberry fruits, those supported nicely by notes of milk chocolate and café au lait. Drink now or in the next year or two. NIS 80. Score 88.
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Loweeel

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Re: Chillag Winery: Visiting and Tasting

by Loweeel » Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:44 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Now located in a new facility in the industrial area of the town of Yahud, on the central plain, the winery relies on Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Upper Galilee and the Judean Mountains and recently planted its own Syrah, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah.


SWEET! :-D
http://PSychospath.com -- The PSychos' Path: the long road to being crazy about Petite Sirah
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Jan Schultink

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Re: Chillag Winery: Visiting and Tasting

by Jan Schultink » Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:37 am

One more fan of Chillag here. A winery with a distinct character of its own.
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Janusz Omietanski

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Re: Chillag Winery: Visiting and Tasting

by Janusz Omietanski » Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:31 am

I second it enthusiastically! I do really like Daniel comparing Primo to an elegant Brunello di Montalcino. I am looking forward to tasting her Petit Syrah and hopefully Petit Verdot sometime in future! Respect to the Lady Orna.

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