Gvaot Pinot Noir Gofna 2009 review

My first experience with wines from Gvaot was very positive. I dislike immensely the over the top fancy wine label designs which try too hard to impress and actually transmit a lack of confidence and immaturity like someone over dressing for their first shidduch. I feel that they were badly advised.  A pity because it may put some serious wine drinkers off even trying a bottle when in fact Gvaot wines, at least the two which I have tried have been very enjoyable indeed.
Gvaot is one of a growing number of boutique wineries setting up shop in the Shomron region. This winery is very near the ancient city (town ((village)) ) of Shilo.
They currently produce three ranges. There most exclusive is Masada, followed by Gofna Reserve to its cheapest range called Herodion. I say cheap but even the Herodion range is priced at the equivalent level of most other winery’s “Reserve” range so it is only fair to judge them against other similar wines in their price range.
The Pinot Noir Gofna 2009 was one of the red wines I chose to grace my Sukkah table over Yom Tov. Ironically, I was actually advised by the so called wine expert in the shop in Machaneh Yehudah against this wine. I mentioned to her that my favourite red wine was the Yarden Golan Heights Pinot Noir. I have tasted the 2004, 2005 and 2006 which have all been excellent. In fact I absolutely love the Golan Heights Gamla Pinot Noir 2007. Sure, it is lacking the depth of the Yarden but if you are a Pinot Noir fan, the Gamla delivers the goods and more. It is an excellent wine for Kiddush with virtually no sign of tannins whatsoever. But enough about Golan Heights, we are here to talk about the Gvaot version.
Anyway, I also mentioned to the wine advisor in the shop that I’d tasted the Ella Valley Pinot Noir and had not been impressed. “In that case” she said, “you won’t like the Gvaot!”. However, I really wanted to give this wine a try so telling her that I would probably regret this decision, I bought the bottle for NIS 99.
I’m really glad I did!
Let’s just describe what a good classic Pinot Noir is supposed to taste like. The first thing to say is that you have to be somewhat brave (or fool hardy) to even attempt to produce wine from this grape. The Pinot Noir fruit is exceedingly fussy when it comes to climate and temperature. It is a very delicate and easily spoiled grape and it takes great knowledge and skill and nerves of steel to produce a successful wine.
Pinot Noir grapes
Colour and texture is almost black, muddy and light.
A classic Pinot Noir smells earthy and delicately sweet like walking through a field with crushed grapes under foot at harvest time. People describe the smell as wet muddy grapes during a light rain shower.
Tasting notes for a classic Pinot Noir include a fresh muddy/earthy delicious taste of ripe reddy black whole forest fruit jam or preserves. Holding the wine in the mouth reveals hidden layers of freshly grounded sweet delicate spices. The finish is immensely refreshing, long lasting with a very gentle aftertaste of freshly picked wet dark fruits of the field and more muddy rain.
So when am I going to describe this Gvaot Gofna Pinot Noir you may ask? Well, I just did.  The above description is exactly what this wine looks, smells and tastes like.

This wine has been matured in oak barrels for 12 months.
We opened the bottle for Shabbos Chol Hamoed Friday night Kiddush in the sukkah, taken from the wine cooler which was set to 14 C. We let it rest for around 15 minutes. The weather outside had turned slightly cooler but nevertheless dry. In my area of Israel we don’t often get an autumn. It simply goes from hot to cold in a matter of 48 hours. We were really enjoying this delightful Sukkos weather. I poured out the wine noting its wonderful muddy black colour. My wife commented on the magnificent colour. It really was as black as night. Everyone at the table waited for my reaction after the first swallow. I teased them by hiding my urge to roll my eyes in delight.  
Keeping a straight serious face, I distributed the wine to everyone, my wife of course first, followed by her mother, a regular and welcome guest at our table. Next my daughter followed by my sons in order of age. I make a point of using everyone’s full [Hebrew] names whilst distributing the wine. When we have guests, I make sure to ask them beforehand. Men get to be called by their full names whenever they are honoured with an aliyah in shul. Women rarely get the chance to hear their full names being used. Well with our family minhag (custom), you get to hear your full name at least twice a week! Incidentally this has the effect of getting your guests to open up and talk about themselves and their family as the inevitable questions of yichus (Jewish family connections) come up. I was named after “Plony ben Plony” who did this and that.
My daughter was the first to react, having been given her wine before my sons.  Her face turned from a broad smile then to one of annoyance as she shot me a scornful disapproving look. She realised that I was teasing everyone. I grinned boyishly.

We all sat there discussing our opinions. My eldest son blurted out that the wine tasted like strawberries!
My first reaction was that he was taking the mickey but then I realised that he was bang on. There was a sweet heathery taste of some fruit of the field which I had as yet failed to identify. As soon as he mentioned strawberries I knew he was right. The Gvaot appears initially to be light and fresh but then starts to reveal an astonishing depth with layers of rich fruit, a taste of unmistakable strawberry jam preserves, you know, the ones where they haven’t ruined with too much sugar so that you have that smooth consistency but can still taste the fruit and the pips and the seeds inside. As another layer was refvealed, there was more of that fruity muddy rain water mixed with strawberry juice, skin and seeds. Lastly we experienced a satisfying and long remembered finish without a hint of tannins.
We looked at the back of the wine bottle to read the blurb. We don’t like to read it before drinking as it might well taint our opinion. To my amazement, the label states that the wine has “complex aromas of strawberries…”. You aren’t kidding!
This wine is quite simply a masterpiece. Perfection in a bottle? Well nothing except Hakodesh Baruch Hu is perfect but for me, this is the most delightful Pinot Noir I have ever tasted. You know what? Perhaps I shouldn’t say that until I’ve opened a bottle of Golan Heights Yarden 2005 and compare these two exquisite wines side by side. However this experiment would be an expensive indulgent luxury which isn’t going to happen any time soon. So let’s just say that if you love the Yarden Pinot Noir but want to try a different winery, just for a change, you should buy a bottle of this heavenly liquid. I wouldn’t be surprised if you decided to stick with the Gvaot.
The Gvaot Gofna 2009 Pinot Noir, with its light refreshing taste and smooth fruit finish is an excellent choice for Kiddush. In fact, if you enjoy that delicate taste of Pinot Noir over a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot then I can think of few wines if any to equal this. But act quickly as the bottle states that this is a very limited production run of just 550 bottles.


  1. i understand they have a special Chardonnay, too. i'll look to see if you reviewed that as well.


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