Geography in a bottle

As even the most gifted winemakers will admit, great wines are made in the vineyard and not in the winery.

wine 2 88 (photo credit: )
wine 2 88
(photo credit: )
As even the most gifted winemakers will admit, great wines are made in the vineyard and not in the winery. One of the keys to growing grapes for a truly great wine is the passion of the vintner. Growing grapes is farming, but it requires knowledge of botany, chemistry, viticulture, and other scientific aproaches. There are as many ways to grow grapes as there are varieties of the fruit, each with its own portfolio of chemicals producing flavor and aroma. Today's diversity - from Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel, from champagne to Chardonnay - reflects the complex interactions between a region's soil, topography, grape varieties, and wine-making techniques, all of which can link particular wines to particular places. Yogev (farmer), the recently launched series from Binyamina winery, is a tribute to the devoted vintners who maximize the grapes' quality for a set of identifiably Israeli wines. As one of the five leading wineries in Israel, the Binyamina winery produces around 2 million bottles per year, and uses a wide range of grape varieties in order to appeal to a greater number of wine-lovers. The four wines of the Yogev series are also a breakthrough in the winery's transition toward crafting high-quality wines, a process which started with the planting of new vineyards in 1996. With an expanded range of red and white varieties the winery has quality vineyards spread around the entire country, from the Golan Heights through the Upper Galilee and down to Mitzpe Ramon in the South. "We blend our varietals to produce wines that are more complex, better balanced, and richer than single varietals wines," says Sasson Ben-Aharon the chief winemaker of Binyamina. Each component of the blend adds its own characteristics to the wine's flavor. Yogev, Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot, 2004. Half of this blend is made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the vineyard of Eli Heiman in Karmei Yosef, and 50% from Merlot grapes from the vineyard of Dror Eliraz in Moshav Lachish. Featuring red berries and ripe fruit aromas, this wine is richly flavored and has a light scent of oak from the barrels it was aged in for eight months. NIS 55. Yogev, Cabernet Sauvignon - Shiraz, 2004. This wine's grapes were harvested at the vineyard of Zvi Shoseyov in Karmei Yosef, and the Shiraz grapes are from the vineyard of Reuven and Avraham Birger in Kfar Kish. Revealing fruit aromas and a hint of vanilla, this medium-bodied red wine is very elegant and ready for drinking now or in the next three years. NIS 55. Yogev, Cabernet - Zinfandel, 2004. An appealing dry rose wine filled with the aromas of strawberries and other fresh fruits. The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are from Yossi Abramson's vineyard in Kfar Kish, and the Zinfandel grapes are from the vineyard of Alon Cohen in Kfar Tabor. The two varieties underwent cold, slow fermentation, as is customary in white wines, and were blended shortly before bottling. NIS 35. Yogev, Sauvignon Blanc - Chardonnay, 2004. A well-balanced and medium-bodied wine offering pear and tropical fruit flavors. The Sauvignon Blanc is from the vineyard of Aharon Fadida in Kerem Ben-Zimra, and the Chardonnay was grown by Avshalom Karniel at Kfar Tabor and Avi Yehuda in Neve Ilan. The wine has a refreshing acidity and a long finish with mineral notes. NIS 35.