Archive for the ‘Yarden’ Category

Yarden "Odem" Chardonnay, Israel, 2009 *Organic*

May 8, 2011 1 comment

Yarden’s Odem Chardonnay is part of their organic offerings, but what does “organic” mean with wine? There are several categories of organic viticulture: Certified/Practicing Organic, Natural and Biodynamic.

The Certified/Practicing Organic is the most common category, at least in terms of popular knowledge; the only difference between “certified” and “practicing” is that the people who are “practicing” have not gotten a seal from a government agency, wherever they happen to be located. In Europe, you will find many wines are practicing organic and not certified because the individual operations are too small to afford the certification price tag. What this tag means is that there are no chemical fertilizers or pesticides used in the growing of the grapes. However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t use other additives to help produce/protect their wines.

“Natural” viticulture takes this process one step further. Beyond the pesticides and fertilizers, “natural” take a non-interventionist approach to winemaking. They will only use naturally abundant yeasts on the grapes themselves as well as naturally-occurring sulfites, refusing to add any lab-grown yeasts or chemical sulphites (certified organic producers do not restrict themselves as such).

“Biodynamic” producers take this one step even further than the organic and natural vintners. They will take such things as phases of the moon into account in terms of when to do certain things to fertilize/harvest/etc. Furthermore they will only use natural pest control (i.e., in France, there’s a species of wasp that is a natural enemy of several bugs that eat grape vines, so vintners will release swarms of these wasps into the vineyard to rid themselves of these pests as opposed to spraying pesticides.

In any case, each style of organic viticulture lays the claim to making a wine that is “better” for you and “better” for the earth. There is something to be said for having fewer chemicals and whatnot added to your body (my wife has a policy of “if I have trouble pronouncing it, it isn’t going into my body.”) However, data on the long-term effects of consuming/producing these types of wines are still pending.

Yarden’s Odem Chardonnay falls into the “practicing” organic category. That means that, while there are no chemical fertilizers or pesticides used, there may be added sulfites, laboratory yeasts used for fermentation, etc. Also, they were not able to file the papers with the USDA in time for the 2009 vintage to be certified as organic, though they do practice organic viticulture.

On first taste, I was underwhelmed. My palate does not typically go for oaky, buttery chardonnay (though I know many people do enjoy it), and that was all I could taste initially. However, I tried it again a few hours later and it had changed dramatically for the better. While the oak and butter were still there, it was balanced with a nice apple and pear note as well as some minerality that was reminiscent of a good Chablis. The oak and butter had become accent notes to the total product (which is how I love my Chard!).

While the Odem Chardonnay is great on its own as a mid-afternoon/evening sipper, I could also see it paired with a turkey hash or a boulliabaisse. Most fish, even heavier and fattier fishes, are too delicately flavored (the one exception may be cedar plank salmon and related dishes), and on the other extreme, most red meats are too rich and will overpower the wine. The happy medium would be a poultry dish with some good spice. This wine retails for around $22 and is a fantastic addition for a catchall chardonnay.

Categories: Israel, Organic, Yarden

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!