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Yarden Syrah 2005

August 12, 2010 Leave a comment

For my first wine post, I thought I’d pick one of the stars of the Israeli kosher wine world, and perhaps one of the companies that put Israeli wine (kosher or otherwise) on the map: the Golan Heights Winery. In particular, I tasted the Yarden Syrah, 2005 vintage.

Before opening, I was very concerned that I was opening a California syrah wannabe: über fruity and lots of smoky oak aging. However, I was very pleasantly surprised.

Wine uses 4 of your 5 senses: taste, touch, smell and sight. Upon visual inspection, I saw that the wine was intensely colored with a grapey shade of purple (typical of syrah) and heavily concentrated, which led me to expect a huge punch of flavor and aromas.

Like I said before, I was expecting very stereotypically California-ish qualities out of the wine (lots of fruit, peppery spice in the case of the syrah grape, and smokey oak qualities, and generally over-the-top), as many Israeli wineries are opting for this style (it sells more bottles); however, this was not the case for the Yarden Syrah.

Instead, it reminded me more of what you would get out of the Rhone Valley in France (the home of the syrah grape). In France, the best wines are more restrained. The fruity qualities are still present, but usually not overripe and in-your-face; this allows for other characteristics to come through, things that are more earthy.

In this case, the earthiness was very present, but not offensive. There was a distinctly mushroomy quality, as well as something gamey–almost reminiscent of venison.  There was oak aging on this wine with hints of butterscotch and vanilla, but it was an accent, not the primary note.

As far as the fruity qualities, there was some grapeyness going on as well as plum, but if anything, they seemed a little under ripe. And finally there was some characteristic spice going on at the end, black pepper and clove.

And now, the main event: tasting! The wine is very tannic, meaning it would go well with a dish with some fat or other richness going on. The acidic qualities complement the tannins in the wine. The black pepper and clove are more assertive on my palate than when I smelled the wine. The fruit is there, but again, it’s very restrained and the fruits are under ripe.

I enjoyed this wine thoroughly, and would heartily recommend it to others. One word of warning, though: IT NEEDS FOOD! I ate a roast chicken breast with this wine and it didn’t go well together. If I were to do this again, I’d pair it with a steak or lamb chop. Maybe a beef bourguignon. You’ll want to have something that is rich and has a good amount of fat to counter the acid and tannins in the wine.

This wine goes for around $25 – $30 in most wine stores, but I have seen it on sale for as little as $20. In any case, if you need a wine for a gift that will impress, or if you’re doing a nicer dinner party, this is an excellent bottle to buy!

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