On Friday morning (26 June), I met with Gaby Sadan for coffee at my office away from the office. For those not in the know Gaby is widely acknowledged as one of Israel's most talented winemakers. After formal winemaking education at the University of Dijon and garnering experience in Bordeaux, Burgundy, California and Australia, Sadan returned to his native Israel, first for a prolonged period as one of the winemaking team at the Golan Heights Winery and then as the founding winemaker at the then newly opened Galil Mountain Winery.
Several years ago Sadan struck out on his own, planting vineyards at the Shvo Vineyard, that at the altitude of 800 (2650 feet) meters in the Upper Galilee. Now, with his vineyards planted with Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Barbera, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Muscat Canelli and for the moment using a rented facility in Gush Halav (Jish) as his winery, Sadan is about to release his first wines. The winery is named Kerem Shvo after the vineyard.
Be there no question but that Sadan is both a competent professional and an individualist. Red releases will be primarily blends and this year (among possibilities is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Barbera). More than this, Sadan's relies on trellising methods yet unused in Israel as well as on the use of wild yeasts whenever that will be possible.
Plans are to release approximately 20,000 bottles from the 2009 vintage, that jumping to about 40,000 bottles in 2010. Future plans will take the winery to production of 100,000 bottles annually.
I shall be paying a first visit to see the vineyards and to do barrel tastings at the winery next week. For the moment, today I tasted Sadan's first release, a rose from the 2009 harvest and my tasting note for that follows.
Kerem Shvo, Rosé, Upper Galillee, 2009: Made entirely from Barbera grapes by the direct press method in which red grapes are pressed gently on entry to the winery, much as making white wine, this allowing only the finest must to be collected, and allowing an absolutely minimal contact with the skins to allow a light coloring and then allowing fermentation to take place relying on wild yeasts. Light salmon pink in color, light- to medium-bodied, a smooth, ripe and generous wine, remarkably well balanced with appealing plum, cherry, berry and raspberry notes and even a light hint of tannins, all leading to long and supple finish. Not many still (that is to say non-Champagne) rosé wines earn scores of 90 and damned few over that. I would normally suggest drink now-2011 but I have a sneaking feeling that this one will hold comfortably taking on additional depth through 2012. Certainly one of the best rosé wines I have ever tasted and comfortably earns its score of 91. At NIS 75 an excellent buy!!! (Tasted 25 Jun 2010)
The wine is now waiting for labels and will be released shortly. Those who want to order bottles can contact Sadan by telephone at 054-6700891 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org