Yatir Winery Visit

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Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Gabriel Geller » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:02 pm

Hello folks!

I've spent this last Thursday morning (and some of the afternoon as well) in the good company of Forumite Elie Poltorak and his cousin at the state-of-the-art Yatir's winery & vineyards. We were hosted by the winery's passionate founder and CEO Yaakov Ben Dor and were joined later on by Eran Goldwasser the head winemaker by the end of the tasting (he was hosting a Czechian winemaker). After showing me the beautiful vineyards, surroundings and views of the forest, Yaakov and I drove down to Arad to meet with Elie where sits the winery's facilities, passing by breathtaking views and camels.

After visiting the barrels, bottling and tanks rooms we were given a complete and exhaustive tasting of the winery's line up.

As well, thanks to a friend that will go unnamed here, we were given the big surprise of having the opportunity to taste their unique "Port" (more some kind of a dessert wine, very interesting wine), a one-time run of 2 barrels having produced about 500 bottles that were sold exclusively at the winery and which are sold out. Yaakov treated us with the very last bottle left.

Following are the notes for the wines I haven't yet published/tasted.

Yatir, Viognier 2010: Light greenish gold with on the nose flowery tones such as honeysuckle, stone fruits, light to medium-bodied, stoney minerals and fruits such as white peaches and fresh apricots, pears, yellow grapefruits and quince, nice acid, some wet grass along some citrus zest bitterness on the moderately long finish. IMHO much better than the 2009. By the end of the tasting we re-tasted the Viognier at which point most the stone fruits had receded highlighting notes of honey and sweet pears.

Yatir, Syrah 2009: Dark purple with on the nose saddle leather, blackberries, black pepper, blueberries and plums. Full-bodied with on the palate wild ripe blueberries, boysenberries, smoked meat, purple, plums leafy bitterness, bracing acid with mouth coating tannins rising on the very long finish. Loved it.

Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: Dark garnet towards purple, on the nose ripe cassis, blackberries, crushed berries, dark chocolate. Much of the same going on the palate with this full-bodied wine together with bright acid, some fresh blue and black fruit, cassis, tobacco with searing tannins coating the mouth on the very long finish. Really nice, liked it a lot more than the 2007 (haven't tasted the 2008).

Yatir, Port-style 2005: This wine is made of relatively late harvested 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that had a reasonable 26 brix at harvest. The fermentation was stopped by adding some 5 years-old Carmel brandy and spent a bit more than a year in oak. On the nose this wine features some cherry liqueur, sweet licorice and wood and differentiates itself on the palate as a "Port" by the absence of dried fruits notes instead of which take place sweet fleshy fresh fruits such as plums and blackberries with very good acid, notes of black coffee and milk chocolate, sweet cherries and almonds lingering on the endless finish. Absolutely delicious!

Yatir, Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon- Shiraz 2008: Dark garnet with on the nose smoked meat, blackberries, ripe cassis and raspberries, smoked wood. Full-bodied with on the palate some almost overripe black fruit and toasty wood, much less acid than the other wines of the line up with velvety tannins, sweet chocolate and mocha on a very long finish. Quite good and certainly a much better wine than the 2-3 previous vintages. Unfortunately the following 2009 vintage isn't as good.

Yatir, Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon- Shiraz 2009: Dark garnet with a purple hue. On the nose some animal notes, sweet red fruit and leather as well as plums. Full-bodied with on the palate somewhat overripe black and red fruit, licorice, prunes, a touch of sweet tobacco and vanilla with tannins that rise on a fairly long finish. Decent but not great.

Best,

GG
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Jonathan D » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:03 pm

hmmmm....very Rogov of you, Gabriel... do I sense a book coming to our shelves soon?

Very much appreciate the info, though I'd encourage you to - as they say on American Idol - try a little harder to craft your write-up in your own style :)
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Gabriel Geller » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:19 pm

Jonathan D wrote:hmmmm....very Rogov of you, Gabriel... do I sense a book coming to our shelves soon?

Very much appreciate the info, though I'd encourage you to - as they say on American Idol - try a little harder to craft your write-up in your own style :)

Well, I'm inspired by Rogov as to the style but sometimes try different ones...
No book scheduled :?

Best,

GG
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Elie Poltorak » Wed May 01, 2013 4:49 pm

Gabriel's write-up is right on the money! With the unfortunate exception of the entry-level blend, this is certainly the best lineup ever from Yatir. Gab missed the incredible petite verdot, which screams blue with bracing acidity. I think the Syrah was the best of the bunch with the PV a close second, but all were at least A- to A.
As far as the "port," it is actually nothing like a port. Think of it as a big bold cab, except that it's sweet with some smokiness. Really interesting and absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, it didn't hold up well and a few days after opening, was very oxidized.
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Yehoshua Werth » Wed May 01, 2013 9:36 pm

Great to hear how many think these vintages are top notch.. Do we see a trend up? OR is this just a standout of a Top tear Winery?

Love be with your day and thank all for the thoughts
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby David Raccah » Thu May 02, 2013 12:29 am

as I already posted on my blog there is really nothing new here. the first time yatir wines rock. they have rocked for some time. most consistent kosher wine from Israel, ignoring their entry level blend.
Checkout http://www.kosherwinemusings.com for my blogs on the world of kosher wines and follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/kosherwinemuse.
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Samuel A » Thu May 02, 2013 3:37 am

+1 including the style of the write up
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Elie Poltorak » Thu May 02, 2013 4:09 pm

David Raccah wrote:as I already posted on my blog there is really nothing new here. the first time yatir wines rock. they have rocked for some time. most consistent kosher wine from Israel, ignoring their entry level blend.


Dave,
Although you are of course correct that Yatir wines have rocked for some time (except the blend), I disagree with your sentiment that there's nothing new here. We've seen other boutique wineries that have rocked for some time begin to rest on their laurels, their quality plateauing and eventually falling (e.g., Castel). Yatir deserves accolades for not taking its success for granted and working hard to keep making better and better wines. If there's one take-away I got from my visit to Yatir, it's that they see themselves at the bottom of the mountain looking up, rather than at the peak. As Yakov put it, "now we've graduated kindergarten and are beginning first grade." That attitude is why they keep improving.
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Elie Poltorak » Thu May 02, 2013 4:41 pm

I would also add that both Gvaot and Flam are both giving Yatir a run for its money in quality and consistency, with Psagot rapidly catching up as well.
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Moshe F » Thu May 02, 2013 6:42 pm

If y'all don't mind. Can you be more specific about what you didn't like about the blend? Is it specific to the 2009 and not the 2008 or both?
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Yehoshua Werth » Thu May 02, 2013 10:30 pm

Loved the 06' Red Blend thought it drank awesome!
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Elie Poltorak » Fri May 03, 2013 5:08 pm

The '06 red blend was the worst ever. Sweet mouth followed by a rancid, bitter finish. Really nasty. The '07 was better than the '06 but not by much. I didn't try the '08 but it smelled quite nice and GG liked it. The '09, on the other hand, was raisin-sweet and boring, although at least it didn't have that rancid finish.
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Elie Poltorak » Fri May 03, 2013 5:09 pm

I have to mention for those who don't remember, that in its first years, the blend was AWESOME!!! In fact, I hear the '04 is still drinking well. I wish I had some left but I finished the MANY cases I bought long ago.
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Elchonon Hellinger » Mon May 06, 2013 1:44 pm

Dave,
that lunacy.. just because you blogged on a wine and winery doesnt mean there isnt what to add.. ppl have different views and styles ;)

Elie, yatir is hardly a "boutique" comon! they are friking owned by carmel! they probably have the largest array and selection of grapes in the country, lewis pasco told me thats why yatir is so good, they get the first choice grapes of all of carmel (other maybe not above the LE/ Med) and they send back to carmel what they dont want
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Elie Poltorak » Mon May 06, 2013 3:32 pm

Elchonon Hellinger wrote:Dave,
that lunacy.. just because you blogged on a wine and winery doesnt mean there isnt what to add.. ppl have different views and styles ;)

Elie, yatir is hardly a "boutique" comon! they are friking owned by carmel! they probably have the largest array and selection of grapes in the country, lewis pasco told me thats why yatir is so good, they get the first choice grapes of all of carmel (other maybe not above the LE/ Med) and they send back to carmel what they dont want


Elchanan,

I don't see how being owned by Carmel makes them any less boutique. Although the topic has been debated here before (and Rogov hated the term, arguing that it's meaningless), I use boutique winery in the same sense as a boutique store: A boutique winery does not aim to offer a full assortment of wines and to please everyone, rather it focuses on its own style. Just because a winery is small, that doesn't make it a boutique--plenty of small wineries aspire to grow into big wineries and make wine for maximum market share. For instance, Psagot seems to be aiming to compete with the big boys. Similarly, being "boutique" doesn't make a winery any better. In fact, big wineries have a significant advantage over boutiques, which you mention, in that they can choose the very best grapes for their premium wines; thus, they are able to offer consistency even the best boutiques can only dream of. Moreover, they have the deep pockets to invest in the best barrels, equipment, etc. However, there is something unique about a great boutique winery which you don't get in even the very best wines from the big wineries, and that is the idiosyncratic expression of the terroir and style unique to that winery. It's like the difference between shooting at a target and painting the target around your arrow after you shoot--a boutique winemaker has much more freedom to let the grapes express themselves, rather than being constrained by the desire for a particular consistent product.

Yatir is unique in that it is a boutique by any definition--making a small selection of wines expressing a particular terroir and wine-making style--yet, they have the advantage of Carmel's deep pockets and they are able to be super-choosy in their grape selection, sending the leftovers to Carmel. (Your statement that they get to choose Carmel's best grapes is incorrect--Yatir works with specific vineyards in the Yatir Forrest on the south of Har Chevron. Merely choosing Carmel's best grapes from all over would defeat the whole purpose. But they are able to pick only the very best of those grapes and send the rest to Carmel for lower-level wines.) It was really incredible to see the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities at Yatir. I'm sure Yatir's advantages in this respect play a big role in the consistency of their wines.
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Re: Yatir Winery Visit

Postby Elchonon Hellinger » Sun May 12, 2013 10:54 pm

Elie Poltorak wrote:
Elchonon Hellinger wrote:Dave,
that lunacy.. just because you blogged on a wine and winery doesnt mean there isnt what to add.. ppl have different views and styles ;)

Elie, yatir is hardly a "boutique" comon! they are friking owned by carmel! they probably have the largest array and selection of grapes in the country, lewis pasco told me thats why yatir is so good, they get the first choice grapes of all of carmel (other maybe not above the LE/ Med) and they send back to carmel what they dont want


Elchanan,

I don't see how being owned by Carmel makes them any less boutique. Although the topic has been debated here before (and Rogov hated the term, arguing that it's meaningless), I use boutique winery in the same sense as a boutique store: A boutique winery does not aim to offer a full assortment of wines and to please everyone, rather it focuses on its own style. Just because a winery is small, that doesn't make it a boutique--plenty of small wineries aspire to grow into big wineries and make wine for maximum market share. For instance, Psagot seems to be aiming to compete with the big boys. Similarly, being "boutique" doesn't make a winery any better. In fact, big wineries have a significant advantage over boutiques, which you mention, in that they can choose the very best grapes for their premium wines; thus, they are able to offer consistency even the best boutiques can only dream of. Moreover, they have the deep pockets to invest in the best barrels, equipment, etc. However, there is something unique about a great boutique winery which you don't get in even the very best wines from the big wineries, and that is the idiosyncratic expression of the terroir and style unique to that winery. It's like the difference between shooting at a target and painting the target around your arrow after you shoot--a boutique winemaker has much more freedom to let the grapes express themselves, rather than being constrained by the desire for a particular consistent product.

Yatir is unique in that it is a boutique by any definition--making a small selection of wines expressing a particular terroir and wine-making style--yet, they have the advantage of Carmel's deep pockets and they are able to be super-choosy in their grape selection, sending the leftovers to Carmel. (Your statement that they get to choose Carmel's best grapes is incorrect--Yatir works with specific vineyards in the Yatir Forrest on the south of Har Chevron. Merely choosing Carmel's best grapes from all over would defeat the whole purpose. But they are able to pick only the very best of those grapes and send the rest to Carmel for lower-level wines.) It was really incredible to see the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities at Yatir. I'm sure Yatir's advantages in this respect play a big role in the consistency of their wines.


Fine, i'll hand you that, yes they are in a sense boutique, and they do maintain the same label and grape variation for the most part. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boutique

Producing high quality wines even expensive is hardly "niche" saying david edri is niche is an understatement, dudes a frikking lunatic in a crazy mushroom wizard class of his own.

Ive always loved yatir and admit I dont open them really, id choose yatir over castle and here my palate points to yatir as more exciting and castel "boring french" not sure why but when can gets back (dammit gab!!! how can you let me rot!!) we will side by side taste yatir vs castel
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