I haven't drunk, or even tasted, Chateau Golan in ages. Maybe the odd bottle of the Syrah in restaurants. I last drank the Eliad and Sauvignon Blanc fourteen, fifteen years ago. I don't remember ever drinking the Merlot or Cabernet and I know for sure I never drank the Rhone blends in the Geshem line.
In fact, since the last time I drank a bottle of Chateau Golan, a tidal wave has hit Israel.
A tidal wave of "Mediterranean Wines".
For a winery calling itself a Chateau, Chateau Golan has been very matter of fact about the Geshem line. Everyone who has visited the winery has told me that these are the wines dearest to winemaker Uri Hetz, yet you never hear or read any spiel about the suitability of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre to Israeli terroir or cuisine, no high brow, second hand PR about identity and heritage and "Mediterranean Wines". No self-congratulatory Facebook posts, either.
I should really have been paying more attention to a winery that has done virtually nothing to make me zone out. I missed out on the Rose and Sauvignon Blanc, which are seriously lovely.
Geshem, Rose, 2017
This is mostly Grenache. It's probably the best Grenache based rose I've tasted, the nose streaked with clay and chalk for an evocative effect. I know it's excellent because I sniff it so much you'd think it was a Bourgogne. And it's not only tasty, it has a persistent enough presence to make the palate impact both long and memorable. Justifies the 100+ NIS price tag.
Sauvignon Blanc, 2017
I have to go really far back for a memory. Fifteen years ago, a local wine store organized a tasting of Israeli Sauvignon Blancs. Fifteen years ago is like Israeli Sauvignon Blanc: Year One, when everyone released their inaugural SB. The Chateau Golan probably cost about 100 NIS and was the most expensive wine in the tasting lineup by far, over twice the cost of the runner up. It was the only one aged in barrel and the elevage showed as yeastiness rather than overt oak. It costs about 140 NIS these days and the competition has caught up, price wise. As for quality, well, in one sense this is the most 'serious' Israeli white I've ever drunk, taking almost an hour to open up and then coalesce. Very mineral-laden, a cross between Sancerre and Puligny, this is a wine that yearns for a cellar where that bubbling spring of minerals, oak and fruit will have time to settle down.
Geshem, Red, 2015
I get that the name Geshem was a sort of hommage to the classic GSM blend (it only works in Hebrew, sort of), but I'd have gone full pun retard and called it Chateauneuf Golan - even though the 2015 reminds me more of Gigondas and carries its 15% ABV with greater ease than many CdPs carry a 14%.