Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Yatir Winery Offers Pair Of Premium Judean Hills Releases

Yatir Creek 2The Yatir region of Israel boasts a winemaking tradition more than 2,500 years old. It’s the site of one of the country’s largest forests – and some very good premium wine.

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Israel is an ancient land steeped in history that has seen the rise and fall of civilizations. More than 50 years ago an ink-scribed pottery shard was discovered in Tel Arad. The artifact dates to 600 BC.

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It was only recently that a new method, multispectral imaging, enabled unseen characters on the potter shard to be deciphered. What important message was discovered? A request for more wine! We agree with that sentiment, especially if it is like these two bottles.

Yatir Winery, recognized by the bold red lion gracing its labels, was founded in 2000. The Yatir region has been known as one of the finest for growing grapevines for more than 2,000 years with wine being exported to Egypt, Rome and across Israel.

The Yatir region is also known for Yatir Forest, planted at the urging of David Ben-Gurion, the primary national founder of Israel. Yatir Winery has three ranges of wine, the top being Yatir Forest.

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We recently uncorked a red and white from Yatir Winery, the 2016 Yatir Creek and the 2017 Mt. Amasa White, both from the Judean Hills. The occasion was a wine tasting in Raleigh which featured a bottle share – each attendee brought a bottle or two to sample.

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The pair of Yatir bottles created a stir. It’s not every day you get to sample Israeli wine – especially from a critically-acclaimed boutique winery that has gotten a lion’s share of international recognition.

The Mt. Amasa White is a blend of 52% Viognier, 33% Chenin Blanc and 15% Roussanne. The wine is fermented and matured for five months in a combination of concrete amphorae, 500 liter oak barrels and stainless steel vats. In the glass the wine is gold with a greenish hue.

This is a medium-bodied wine with notes of peach, pear and melon. The acidity doesn’t overpower and instead contributes to a refreshing finish that has you reaching for another glass. The unique aging regimen gives this a distinctly Rhone Valley feel – although Chenin Blanc is a Loire Valley grape. A nice bottle at $27.

Yatir Creek is a red that is a step up in quality. The blend is 76% Syrah, 12% Tannat and 12% Malbec. This is a sophisticated wine that is a joy from the first sip. It’s deep purple in color and the aroma of black fruit draw you in magnetically. On the palate black cherry and currant flavors are knit together with solid tannins. Appreciation grows as the wine opens up in the glass.

Kudos must be given to Yatir Winery for their experimentation with different aging techniques. Although winemaking in Israel dates back thousands of years, the current industry is quite young. For the Yatir Creek, aging was done for a year in oak foudres (100-liter casks). The wine gets two years of bottle aging before release. Using the larger barrels avoids oak overkill which would mask the rich fruit.

The Yatir Creek would be ideal to pair with a hearty casserole or juicy steak. SRP is $50. Both wines are Kosher.

Full Disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

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