Yossi’s Wine Page

Chillag’s 2009 Primo Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon

On Friday morning, instead of making some progress with overdue projects around the house, I headed to the Chillag Winery for the release of two wines from their premium Primo series – Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2009 and Syrah Reserve 2009.

Anyone who has spent more than 30 seconds talking to me about wine in Israel knows that for me, it’s the people that make the wine scene in Israel so special. Chillag is a perfect example.

Even though I’m not crazy about all of Chillag’s wines, I try not to miss any of their events because of the friendly atmosphere and warm welcome I get from the entire crew. From Orna Chillag the winemaker, and her super supportive husband Yoram, to Yariv who manages the winery and his delightful wife Nataly who tends the register at these events, to the pourers Roniel, who has the soul of a fashion designer, and Ze’ev/William who adds a touch of sophistication. Each time, it’s genuine smiles, hugs, and “how wonderful to see you again.”

On top of that, Friday’s launch was one I’ve been looking forward to for some time. For several years now, Yariv has been giving me barrel tastings of the Syrah Reserve. Each time I asked when it would be bottled, and each time the answer was “not yet.” Every tasting was more impressive than the last, so I guess they knew what they were doing. Finally, after 30 months in the barrel and 14 months of bottle aging, Chillag’s first Primo Syrah is being released.

After such anticipation it is easy to be disappointed, but there is nothing disappointing about this Syrah. The rich deep garnet color of the wine perfectly reflects its richness of flavor. Mouth filling, full bodied, strong but not overpowering flavors of dark fruits, an amazing long spicy finish, and a pleasant aftertaste that lingers after the finish finally fades. An altogether marvelous wine that was definitely worth waiting for.

Ze’ev, who was pouring the Primo tastings, actually suggested that I try the Cabernet Reserve first, and after doing so I understood why. Chillag’s 2009 Primo Cabernet Sauvignon is marvelous, but it just doesn’t have the same dominant character as the Syrah, so it really did need to be sampled first. This Cabernet, with 10% Syrah, is well integrated and smooth, with soft tannis, balanced rich fruit flavors, and a very titillating slightly sour edge that will compliment spicy foods very nicely. This is certainly an excellent Cabernet, but for me, the Syrah carried the day.


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