A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to take part in a celebration of the Chillag Winery’s 10th anniversary and the official launching of the Primo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 – Chillag’s flagship vino.
After completing her oenology studies in Piacenza, Italy and completing her internship at the distinguished Tenuta Belvedere winery in Tuscany, Ms. Orna Chillag returned to Israel and decided to produce wines independently. Orna’s first wine upon her return was released in 1999. This was a barrel of Primo Merlot, produced at the Nachshon Winery and relying on grapes from the nearby Latrun vineyards.
The event started off with a barrel tasting of the Primo, Cabernet, 2007, followed by a tasting session of some of Orna’s first wines, including the Primo, Merlot, 2000 (one of eight bottles left), Primo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2000 and the Primo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002. Similar to all of the wines at Chillag, these too spent quite a few months in barriques and are unfiltered.
When tasting a Chillag wine, it is evident that Orna is influenced by the philosophy of the “Old World” winemaking methods. The wines are definitely more Italian in style and aren’t as fruity and alcoholic as some of the other wines we see on the Israeli market.
Primo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 (NIS 170) - consisting of 90% Cab and 10% Merlot. Very Italian in style, reflecting the 24 months spent in oak, the wine offers layered aromas of dark berry fruits, plums, earth, roasted coffee beans and slight hints of Mediterranean herbs. This wine needs some time to aerate before drinking. Try opening for at about an hour or two before serving.
Solo, Merlot, 2005 (NIS 110) – this time 90 % Merlot and 10% Cab originating from vineyards situated in the Judean Hills - Dark crimson towards purple in color, suggesting ripe dark fruits, cassis, plums, dark chocolate and toasted oak leading to a pleasant finish.
Vivo, Blend, 2006 ((NIS 80) – aged for 12 months in oak, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah – medium – full bodied and deep purple in color the wine offers aromas of red fruits, plums and milk chocolate.
The Chillag Winery, located in the industrial area of Yehud, is currently producing approximately 20,000 bottles annually.
12 Shabazi Street, Yehud Industrial Zone