You guys knew that I'd have to get in some Israeli Pinot Noir wines. Following are my tasting notes for those wines currently on the market, all of which were tasted or re-tasted in the last six months.
For those not familiar with my notation system, the first word in each review is the name of the winery. That is followed by the series in which the wine is found (if that exists) and then the name of the variety and the vintage date. Those wines followed by the letter 'K" are kosher.
Aneva, Pinot Noir, 2006: Made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes, the wine rather generously oaked after 22 months in barriques and therefore a bit more full-bodied and oaky than one might hope for from this variety. Although lacking varietal typicity, an interesting wine, with a nose of black fruits and earthy minerals, opening in the glass to reveal wild berry and blackcurrant fruits, those complemented by notes of minted chocolate and, on the moderately long finish, a lead-pencil hint. Drink now. Score 87.
Avidan, Pinot Noir, 2008: Tight and concentrated, darker, more full-bodied and more tannic than one expects from a Pinot Noir. On the nose and palate dried berries and currants, mint and sage and a bit heavy on its herbal presence. Not at all a typical Pinot but will surely have its fans. Drink now–2014. Score 88.
Bar Giora, Pinot Noir, 2008: Blended with 5% of Petit Verdot, oak aged in French barriques for 18 months the wine shows medium- to full-bodied, generously tannic and reflecting a rather heavy hand with the oak On the nose and palate dried berries along with notes of mint, sage and bay leaf. A savory if not complex wine and not adequately reflecting the traits of Pinot Noir. Drink now. Score 84.
Barkan, Classic, Pinot Noir, Negev, 2010: A pleasant enough little wine but you might never guess that it was made from Pinot Noir grapes. Cherry red, medium-bodied, with soft tannins and a basic berry-black cherry personality. An entry-level choice. Drink now. Score 84. K
Ella Valley Vineyards, Pinot Noir, 2009: Deeply aromatic, deep royal purple in color, full-bodied for a Pinot but not overly tannic and with a still-gentle wood influence. Ripe and spicy and, on the nose and palate, plums, black cherries, cola and mineral notes. On the long fresh finish a note of cedarwood rising. Drink now–2016. Score 90. K
Galil Mountain, Pinot Noir, 2009: Living up nicely to barrel-tasting promise. Developing in French barriques, dark ruby in color, medium-bodied, gently tannic, showing a lovely fruit-rich nose and equally tempting flavors. On the nose and palate red and black berries, black cherries and cassis, those reflecting a gentle hand with spicy wood. From mid-palate on hints of stony minerals and cedar wood. Pinot Noir true to its variety and happily reflecting its Galilean roots. A fine effort for the vintage. Drink now–2016. Score 90. K
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Pinot Noir, Marom Galil Vineyard, 2008: Deeply aromatic, a lighter-than-usual-style Pinot from Yarden, showing red berries, cherries, sage and minerals. Medium-bodied, with light tannins that linger nicely through and lead to a long, persistent finish. Drink now-2016. Tentative Score 89–91. K
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Pinot Noir, Ein Zivan Vineyard, 2008: Full-bodied, showing ripe black cherries, plums and spices, and picking up a mineral edge on a long finish. Ripe, pure and fleshy. Drink now–2016. Score 91. K
Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Pinot Noir, 2008: Round and well balanced, dark cherry-red towards garnet in color and medium- to full-bodied. On the opening nose spices and chocolate and on the palate blackberries, black cherries and roasted herbs. Fresh, aromatic and concentrated with a tantalizing hint of licorice on the long finish. Drink now-2017, perhaps longer. Score 92. K
Golan Heights Winery, Gamla, Pinot Noir, 2008: Dark ruby in color, medium-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely. On the nose and palate red currants and black and red cherries, those complemented nicely by notes of spices and minerals. Complex enough to grab our attention and simultaneously easy to drink. Drink now–2013. Score 88. K
Gvaot, Gofna Reserve, Pinot Noir, 2009: Made from still young vines and showing light garnet, a rich, medium-bodied and elegant wine. Oak aged for 12 months, opens with a cherry-berry nose, goes on to show soft, gently caressing tannins and abundant wild berry, plum and cherry fruits, those on a just spicy enough background to tantalize. Well focused and long with fruits and tannins rising nicely on the finish. Drink now-2016. Score 91. K
Katlav, Pinot Noir, 2007: Oak-aged for 24 months, medium-dark ruby in color, a soft, round and easygoing Pinot opening to show black cherry, red berry and spicy aromas and flavors. Light tannins and a gentle note of the wood make this an easy-to-drink and just-complex-enough Pinot. Drink up. Score 86. K
Livni, Pinot Noir, 2009: Made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes grown at an altitude of 875 meters and aged for 12 months in French and American barriques, a full-bodied, impenetrably dark garnet wine with almost chewy tannins. Opens with a black fruit nose, goes on to show crushed wild berries, ripe cherries and raspberry fruits, those with overlays of licorice and earthy minerals. Rich, deep and layered, perhaps not fully typical of the variety but certainly very tempting Pinot Noir. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from 2013-2017. Score 90. K
Pelter, T-Selection, Pinot Noir, T- 2009: Dark cherry red toward garnet, medium- to full-bodied, with silky tannins. Soft and round, with wild berry and blueberry fruits coming together nicely with hints of toasty oak. Supple, well balanced and concentrated with a long and generous finish, that with an appealing note of bitter almonds. Drink now-2016. Score 92.
Tanya, Reserve, Pinot Noir, 2007: Dark ruby in color, full-bodied and with near-chewy tannins waiting to settle down. Opens to reveal raspberry and cassis fruits on a generously herbal background. Drink now. Score 87. K
Tishbi, Reserve, Pinot Noir, 2007: Dark ruby in color, full-bodied and with near-chewy tannins waiting to settle down. Opens to reveal raspberry and cassis fruits on a generously herbal background. Drink now. Score 87. K
Tzuba, Tel Tzuba, Pinot Noir, 2008: Deep garnet, with a wood-rich nose, medium- to full-bodied, with generous tannins and resembling Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot more than Pinot Noir. On the nose and palate raspberries, ripe red plums and cassis. Drink now. Score 87. K
Vitkin, Pinot Noir, 2009: Dark cherry red toward garnet, medium-bodied, with silky tannins that grip gently and a hint of polished mahogany wood on the nose. Ripe and rich, opening with blackberries and spices those going on to notes that at one moment call to mind plum pudding and another black tea. On the long finish, following the general wont of the winemaker, a tempting hint of bitterness. Highly stylized, a distinctly Mediterranean Pinot Noir. Best from mid-2012- 2016. Score 90.