Yatir Winery launched two new wines at a masterclass open to the press in Manhattan last week, in conjunction with the Israeli Wine Producers Association Grand Wine Tasting. Yatir’s representatives Roni Jesselson and Etti Edri shared the story of the two-decade-young winery and poured glasses of the new Yatir Creek 2016 and Yatir Mount Amasa White, in addition to Yatir’s other current portfolio wines.
New approaches since I last checked in with Yatir’s team include innovations in both method and varietals. The winery has begun moving wine from small barrels to larger oak barrels and concrete tanks, creating new blends with lesser or different influences of oak with the aim of bringing out the depths of the winery’s unique terroir. In recent years, the variety of grapes grown by Yatir has also increased to include typical Burgundy-region wines such as tannat, viognier, roussanne and malbec, which are bringing depth and complexity to more typical Israeli wines, which tend to include lots of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. The wines are distinctly Australian style with fruit-forward characteristics, but also display Mediterranean characteristics and offbeat floral and mineral notes.
Winemaker Eran Goldwasser, an accomplished Israeli vintner who trained in Australia, seeks to display the unique desert terroir of the Yatir forest, a man-made forest at the southern end of the Judean Hills and northernmost tip of the Negev. He has become known for making interesting blends on a boutique level.
The 2017 Mount Amasa white is a blend of 52% chenin blanc, 39% viognier and 9% roussanne. The limited oak-barrel aging process allows for the fruity character of the grapes to take the lead in the wine’s flavor profile.
The Yatir Creek 2016 is made from 76% syrah, 12% tannat and 12% malbec. Yatir Creek’s grapes were harvested at elevations of 650-900 meters above sea level, where the soil is chalky with clay. The wine was aged in large oak barrels for 12 months, thus limiting the amount of contact the oak has with the grapes, and matured in the bottle for two years. Jesselson said that wine will mature and cellar well for five to 10 years.
The new wines join the Yatir portfolio from Yatir Mount Amasa Red (which is a bestseller from Yatir portfolio): Yatir Rose, Yatir Petit Verdot and the flagship wine, Yatir Forest.
Yatir provided a bottle of Yatir Creek that I was able to take home for tasting with my wine group. It was described as a heavier, hefty wine, full bodied and chewy by Yeruchum, though with not a lot of tannins. “A little puckery toward the end,” said Daphna.
“A funky blend, in a good way,” said Greg.
Yatir’s award-winning wines consistently earn high critical praise on the international stage, including scores of 90 points or higher for the past nine seasons from Wine Advocate. Yatir Creek, at $50 retail, is a special-event wine perfect to bring as a gift for a Rosh Hashanah dinner. It will pair especially well with beef or turkey prepared with fruit elements. The Mount Amasa white retails for around $30.
By Elizabeth Kratz