Wine Cellar: Pull the cork, Pessah is coming

A small but excellent portfolio of wines that hail from the boutique winery of Yatir.

Since the release of its first label, Ya'ar Yatir 2001, chief winemaker Eran Goldwasser and managing director Ya'acov Ben Dor have followed a pattern of producing excellent wines at the Yatir Winery. Yatir, founded in 2004 as a joint venture between the Carmel Winery and local vintners, is committed to producing high-quality, sophisticated wines. Planted in 1997 at the southern Judean Hills adjacent to Yatir forest, the winery's four vineyards rise from 650m to 900m above sea level. Though all their vineyards share the same region, weather conditions, and type of soil, each vineyard has a different character. Thanks to Goldwasser's expertise, each of the resulting wines showcases the vineyard's personality and its own field of expression. Yatir's wines are characterised by their smooth, rounded, fruity, and highly aromatic nature. All bottles are sealed with white caps and presented with beautifully designed labels making them instantly identifiable. Just pull the cork, and it's all palate delight. Here, then, are the five recent releases: solid, well-made, delicious wines. You can drink them now, but - if you have the patience - Yatir's wines are worth cellaring; all of them have good aging potential for at least a couple more years. Yatir Sauvignon Blanc 2006: All the juice for this aromatic wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks. After this process, half of the juice was aged for four months in barrels, contributing an extra complexity with notes of oak. The wine is refreshing with hints of grapefruit, lemon and green grass, as well as a lingering finish. This is a wine capable of ageing, but the level of fruit is perfect for enjoying when young. Considering the palate pleasure, the NIS 65 price tag is reasonable. Yatir Viognier 2006: An expressive dry white wine made entirely of this celebrated French variety. With a sunshine color and medium-body it has fresh aromas of ripe peaches, apricots honeysuckle and citrus. If you love Viognier you'll need some of this. NIS 76 Yatir Merlot Shiraz Cabernet 2005:It's worth going the extra mile for some wines; this is one of them. An interesting blend of 37% Merlot, 36% Shiraz, 15% Cabernet Franc and 12% Petit Verdot, the variety of grapes here emphasize the region. The fruit from the different plots were aged separately in oak barrels for 12 months before making the decision on the final blend. The wine was then bottled and left to age at the winery for another year. Dark red in color, it has delightful aromas of blackberry and spice, with an intriguing note of vanilla. NIS 102 Yatir Cabernet Sauvignon 2005: A richly aromatic wine featuring black cherry, cassis, and plum. The well-integrated oak provides background notes of vanilla and oak, while the full finish shows cinnamon. The wine is excellent on release and will continue to gain complexity for at least five years. NIS 119 Yatir Shiraz 2005: The grapes for this deep violet Shiraz came from two different vineyards at the Yatir forest. The wine has delightful aromas of jammy black cherry and blackberry with layers of oak and vanilla. The ripe, almost chalky tannins give the wine good weight on the palate and a lush texture. NIS 128 The Carmel winery is releasing four whites in their Regional Series in which the wines belong to a specific appellation. This new range, designed to meet consumer needs, is in perfect line with Carmel's aims: simplicity, modernity, and accessibility. Sauvignon Blanc Upper Galilee 2007: Half the fruit cropped for this dry white are from well-established, almost 30-year-old vineyards in Kerem Ben Zimra. A delicious grassy flavored Sauvignon full of ripe passion fruit and lime aromas with a mineral finish. This wine is well-balanced with fine mouth watering acidity and a lovely lingering finish. NIS 55 Gewuztraminer Upper Galilee 2007: Pale straw color, with fresh crisp flavors of litchi, passion fruit and rose petals. Not too sweet, this wine perfectly fits the hot summer days. NIS 62 Viognier Upper Galilee 2007: A semi-dry white made of 100% Viognier grapes from a vineyard at Meron Mountain. A third of the wine was fermented for four months in oak barrels. It bursts with flavors of citrus blossom and apricots. Wonderful balance keeps it fresh - and you wanting more! NIS 62 Johannesburg Riesling Upper Galilee 2007: This wine went through cold fermentation and has lime and green apple flavors with lively acidity. It is slightly sweet with balanced acidity. NIS 62. [email protected]