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Yatir Viognier, Israel

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Following on the heels of yesterday’s Alexander Sandro post, here’s another premier Israeli winery putting out fantastic wines. Today, we are looking at Yatir winery and their Viognier wine.

The Viognier grape is, while ancient, a relative newcomer to the popular wine market; until the last 5 or so years, it was relegated to the domain of wine geeks and those who enjoyed obscure wines. Viognier has its origins in France’s Rhone Valley (as is Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and a host of other grapes). In fact, in Northern Rhone’s districts of Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet, Viognier is the only white grape allowed by law in order to get the AOC designation.

Part of the reason that Viognier is/was so obscure is that it’s a very different wine than the three main whites in the popular wine world: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling). First, the nose tends to be EXTREMELY aromatic with tropical fruits like papaya and lychee are dominant. The Viogniers I’ve come across have been aged in stainless steel so I am not too experienced with the effect oak aging would have on the wine (hint: kosher winemakers that may be reading this blog: make an oak aged Viognier so we can see the effect! Preferrably not new oak.)

However, despite the obscurity, or perhaps because of it, I am a big fan of Viognier. All too often at the store, I will hear “I don’t like white wine because…” and the reason is usually because the client doesn’t like California Chardonnay, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or German Riesling, and thinks that all of white wine is limited to these three varietals. (In fact, in Italy there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of indigenous varietals both red and white, that we never see in America, kosher or otherwise).

Now back to Yatir’s offering. The noce is rife with tropical fruit, with notes of guava, papaya and a touch of pineapple. This would leave one to expect a particularly sweet wine, but that’s not the case. The palate, while fruity, is completely dry. The fruit component is balanced with a very racy acidity and has a voluptuous mouthfeel that definitely places this wine in the full-bodied category.

This could go well with richer Asian dishes, or even something as exotic as goat or venison (both of which are not that fatty. The wine is fat enough on its own!). If you wanted to do seafood I would put this with richer fish to stand up to the wine’s body, so go for tuna or salmon, and not a light flaky fish.

I really cannot say enough good things about this wine or this winery, which has consistently put out some outstanding wines (and priced appropriately!). But, if you can put down the investment, you’ll be richly rewarded. Cheers!

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Categories: Israel, Yatir