Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

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Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby lewis.pasco » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:37 pm

Thanks to my friends Isaac Chavel and his charming wife Irene, I got motivated to visit, with them, 2 wineries near Arad this past Wednesday: Midbar and Yatir. It's been some years since I have visited Yatir. As everyone should know by now, winemaker Eran Goldwasser is unquestionably a master of the craft and one of the genuine, veritable, guiding lights of the Israeli Kosher wine scene. The wines he produces at Yatir are across the board superb - especially his reds which is pretty clearly where his passion resides. He was kind enough to pour, at Mr. Chavel's request, two vintages of his varietal Petite Verdot, the 2008 and 2009. The 2008 is excellent - a wine which expresses the true "violets in the nose" nature of PV without being too overtly tannic or woody which might be easy to do given any winemaker's attempt to extract PV to it's fullest and then match that with a slew of new French oak. The 2009 takes that experience to another level. Meanwhile Eran's respect and understanding of PV as something special in Israel shows also in his Ya'ar Yatir 2008. Even fuller and more profound than his PV varietal wine, it is the only Bordeaux style blend in Israel that includes 38 % PV along with 52% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Ya'ar Yatir 2008 is delicious, but I imagine will be more and more impressive over the next 5+ years.

Well I'm working backwards here, because Yatir was our afternoon visit. In the morning we stopped at Midbar winery and I caught up with Yaakov Oryah who is as ebullient as Eran is understated - what an amazing day overall. Yaakov's passion lies more in the production of his entirely unique portfolio of white wines made from grapes grown at Mitzpe Ramon, although he is also turning out unique and interesting reds from grape sources also located in the Negev. For a small winery Midbar has a wonderful tool for ultra quality white wine production - a press found normal in wineries 5-20 times Midbar's size. I should know - it was the press I purchased and used the first 5 years at Recanati - a Defraceschi which I knew based on the recommendations of friends from top notch California wineries as well as Aldo Conterno of esteemed note in Peimonte. Anyway we spent about 3 HOURS at Midbar with the highly curious, expressive, fascinating Mr Oryah. He has produced a Semillon/Sauvignon blend that takes one immediately on a voyage to Bordeaux - an even more specifically to Graves where the dry whites are the wines to drink in the summer, at the beach, or with fish. Frankly I don't know anyone who has even tried to make such a wine in Israel, let alone succeeded at it so admirably. One of the highlights at Midbar, too, was tasting two vintages of a single wine His "44" white which features Gewurtztraminer as it's main component and dominant flavor - especially in the nose. The 2011 (did I get the vintage right, Yaakov?) was delicious and floral soapy rose petalish in that special Gewurz way, and the 2012 just amped up the floral Gewurz character, and in particular the rose petal, to another level. Gewurz in too warm a climate (and lets face it, Israel is not the Haut Rhine) can be bitter and overly alcoholic, and the avoidance of either of these traits is where Yaakov's blend of 5 different varieties in the "44" takes the Gewurz into a novel direction of delicacy and finesse.

I could go on, and I will on Facebook if Isaac ever sends me over some of his no doubt breathtaking photos of the entire day. Ciao for now, got a Purim party to attend!
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby lewis.pasco » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:38 pm

Irene? I didn't realize Isaac has a harem. Spell correct at it's most dastardly! ARLENE.
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby David Raccah » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:46 pm

Great visit - did the same and posted them on my blog. I loved the Viognier in both places, but Midbar wins. The unoaked Chardonnay was lovely, the orange 44 and the White 44 as well!
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby Gabriel Geller » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:47 am

lewis.pasco wrote:Irene? I didn't realize Isaac has a harem. Spell correct at it's most dastardly! ARLENE.

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby ChaimShraga » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:17 pm

I attended a Midbar Winery tasting this week. I'm proof-reading my notes prior to posting.

Ya'acov's pretty great, ain't he?
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby Isaac Chavel » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:42 am

While I leave the analysis of wines to Lewis, ARLENE and I found the experience fascinating --- beyond the drive through the Hevron Hills, Lewis' company, the winemakers and the wines --- as it was a study in contrasts.

1. Midbar is a "startup" and Yatir a "subsidiary" of a well-established conglomerate.
2. Except for one wine from the northern Negev, Midbar grapes are from Mitzpe Ramon (even if I do not have that exactly, all the wines are desert wines, sourced from south of Arad), whereas Yatir's wines are grown in the Hevron southern foothills north of Arad.
3. Even though Midbar is starting to produce reds, its soul is in the whites; Yatir's soul is in the reds.
4. Most important, the winemakers' creative personalities: Both seemed to me deeply thoughtful --- both intellectually and creatively --- about their craft. But Ya'akov (Midbar) is an experimenter, looking for new possibilities, whereas Eran (Yatir) seeks new heights of excellence in what is (presumably) already classical.

There was nothing about the day of which could be said, "more of the same." Fascinating! --- what a day. And glorious weather to boot. Thanks, Lewis.

PS Lewis, I only shot film, which means there is a wait for pics --- I apologize for being stuck in the 12th and 13th centuries. If I recall correctly, I only took a couple of you and Ya'akov. By the time we finshed with Eran, I was sufficiently plastered (remember, I did not drive, hence I did not spit) to have forgotten to get a pic of the two of you. At any rate, we'll see how what I took came out.
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby lewis.pasco » Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:57 pm

Chaim, old fiend, Yaakov is amazing. I'd bet his wine passion for whites is right up your alley?
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby lewis.pasco » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:01 pm

Isaac, dear readers, is a class AAA amateur photographer who exhibits here and there.

Well worth the wait if he wasn't "in his cups" before taking the photos.
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby lewis.pasco » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:45 am

Chaim, could you link your blog post here re Midbar and Yaakov Oryah once you complete it?

The notion of reviving this forum to it's former activity level - with the maestro and founder of it off in a better place - is intriguingly appropriate. I think I'll facebook contact a few of the old regulars about that one of these days.
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby Isaac Chavel » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:50 pm

Here are photos of Lewis and Yaakov Oryah. The photography could use some improvement. But the feel-good moment?

2013-06-01(picasa).jpg
2013-06-01(picasa).jpg (377.02 KiB) Viewed 2424 times


2013-06-02(picasa).jpg
2013-06-02(picasa).jpg (403.18 KiB) Viewed 2424 times
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby Isaac Chavel » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:52 pm

I did not figure out how to display the full pics. But you can scroll on them.
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby lewis.pasco » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:00 pm

Or you could go to my facebook page to see full versions among my photos or I think in my timeline stuff under events - trips.

Looking at the picture Isaac (the 2nd one is great) there is quite clearly real joy on mine and Ya'acov's faces. It had been far too long since we'd last enjoyed each other's company... Or even had a chat!
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby ChaimShraga » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:19 pm

Positive Discrimination For White Wines!
http://2GrandCru.blogspot.com
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Re: Awesome visit to 2 wineries near (or in) Arad

Postby David Raccah » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:45 pm

Thanks Chaim - also Netofa is making nice Chenin Blanc as well. LOVED the white midbar wines, as my own blog posting showed and it was a real joy meeting with Yaacov as well.
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