Gvaot Pinot Noir 2013

Let me say now before I go any further that Gvot winery in the Shilo region, is my favourite winery of all time. I think Doctor Shivi Drori is a genius who is blessed with being able to produce excellent wines time after time. The signature style of the winery (in my personal opinion and experience) is that Gvaot wines are full of character and body yet can be drunk almost immediately after opening the bottle and display the most magnificent silky smooth tannins. Now I'm not just talking about the light wines or even the blends. I am also talking about the younger Herodian Cabernet Sauvignon as well as the heavier, more robust and substantial Gofnas (once they have matured a few years in the bottle). This is why it comes as a complete surprise to me that this 2013 vintage of Pinot Noir, a grape that is not known for its heavy tannins, was rough in the mouth even some two and a half hours after opening the bottle.  
The Pinot Noir 2009 (only around 500 or so bottles made) remains my all time favourite wine. (I actually still have one bottle in my wine fridge and have been told that sadly, I better drink it soon although it will pain me greatly to say goodbye to it). The 2009 was all about strawberries. Strawberry jam, fresh strawberries, strawberries in mud after a downpour and long long aftertaste of spices, wet earth, vanilla and rich strawberries.
The stout shape of the bottle (which did not fit in my fridge until I took a hammer to the racks and bashed them almost flat to get these precious Gvaot bottles in) and the wine being so silky smooth (probably due to the phrase "taking silk" - when a British barrister is promoted to Queen's Council), triggered in my mind an association with Horace Rumpole, the genius fictional barrister who never actually obtained silk yet was so silky smooth he could (and did) talk his client off of a death sentence at a show trial where the guilty verdict had already been pre-determined.
The Pinot Noir 2010 had a taste which was a mixture of Strawberries and cherries and fresh muddy rain water. Sadly this vintage disappeared just as soon as it had arrived.

The Pinot Noir 2012 was also magnificent with a hint of wet muddy strawberries but the cherries now taking centre stage. I still have two bottles of this delicious "Rumpole" left. (I just wish to clarify here that I am drawing an association with the stout Rumpole character himself, not Chas Ve'Shalom, with the "Chateau Thames Embankment" he used to drink at "Pommeroy's" wine bar).

I would have bought more at the time but at NIS 120+ a bottle, "She Who Must Be Obeyed" wouldn't let me.

So now we come to the new Gvaot label (but the same stout bottle) and this 2013 vintage.


I opened the bottle (as per normal) after I had set up the Shabbos platter and placed the opened wine in my glass doored cabinet for safe keeping. Just before that though I gave the wine a quick sniff and received a lovely aroma of warm cherry blossom, some sweet dust, (blown in your face by the wind) and wood spice.
Some two hours later and after Shalom Aleichem, Eishes Chayil, the kid's brachos and final preparations, we sat around the table for Kiddush.

After pouring for everyone I quickly swirled my dear wife's glass around a few times, brought it to my nose and breathed in. Big, rich ripe juicy cherries with black liquorice mixed with dry Dutch Cocoa powder. Kiddush said we drank the wine. Like the smell, up front, a big mouthful of ripe cherries. (Not a hint of strawberries anywhere). Cherry blossom and leafy green notes, like walking through a cherry orchard in the heat of the day. Lots of dark bitter chocolate.
You know something. I have read a lot of  reviews that talk about tasting chocolate in a wine and have never properly understood what they meant until tasting this Pinot Noir. Everyone around the table said dark bitter pareve chocolate with spices..........and then....and then...that wave of rough tannins on the gums hits you! Ouch! My daughter said it was like eating a fruit straight after having just brushed your teeth. So rough it ached the gums and turned your tongue to dust. No muddy rainwater here. It was cherries and bitter chocolate powder turning to cherry orchard dust in the heat of the day.
As mentioned above, out of all the great grapes, I thought that Pinot Noir was the least problematic when it came to rough tannins. How comes all their heavy wines have a melted chocolate velvety finish and this "light" wine, instead of being fruity, wet muddy refreshing on the finish, leaves you with dust in your mouth? 



We left the wine until after HaMotzei and came back to it during the chopped liver, chatzilim and chummos. It had improved a bit. More open, less bitter and more fruity. The rest of the table had given up on it but I persevered. I swirled it around a few times and gave it another 20 minutes in the glass. Yes, a definite improvement. Still slightly rough but lovely fresh tart cherries and creamy vanilla on the tongue. Unfortunately that rough aftertaste had not totally subdued.

I am prepared to give this 2013 another go in say, six months to a year's time but I'm sure you can tell by now that I was very much bitterly disappointed with this Pinot Noir.

One last thing. We actually had this wine for Kiddush last month. So distressed and confused was I that I just had to give this Gvaot another chance, so I bought yet another bottle from a different shop to try and get a slightly different batch. We opened this one last Friday night with exactly the same results. It really hurts me to write this but at NIS 120 and up, this Gvaot Pinot Noir 2013 is not recommended. However, if you happen to come across any earlier vintages then grab them quick. I suppose even the great Rumpole had his off day every now and again.


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