When Jeff of Food Wine Click! mentioned that we had an opportunity to receive samples from Yarden Wines for an additional #WinePW weekend, I jumped at the chance to receive samples. It seemed like an amazing way to spend Memorial Day Weekend. He wrote his preview post last week which you can find here
I first wrote about Yarden in 2009 when I heard about them from a friend from the International Wine Center who was Israeli and with whom I did the diploma class. At that time I was very taken with their Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wine had a beautiful ruby red color and an enveloping bouquet of red and black fruits, spice, oak and a hint of tar and tobacco. On the palate it was meaty with leather, cedar and spicy flavors. It was well balanced, held its age very well and was persistent. I was very pleasantly surprised.
Thinking of all the history in Israel, it’s worthwhile to ponder for a moment is Israel should be considered an old or new world wine country. Wine has been made since Biblical times in Israel of course but a modern industry was started only in 1983. Initially wines were made in the Golan Heights but now there are over many wineries throughout the country.
Grape varieties used include international varietals from France such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. They have also had success with Rhone varieties such as Viognier, Syrah, Petit Syrah and Carignan. Some Barbera, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Gewurztraminer, and White Riesling are also grown. They are also experimenting with many grapes and some ancient ones
I love this pastoral image from Yarden’s website. At times, it can be easy to forget that Israel is an agricultural country. I have never visited Israel despite having family there and of course a religious and cultural link to the county. My grandparents all visited and someday so will I. For now, I travel there through the wines.
Yarden has two wineries Golan Heights Winery and Galil Mountain Winery and many brands.
One of the wines I received came from the Galil Mountain Winery which sits in the Upper Galilee mountain range is focused on sustainability and preserving what Nature has left us. They do this through the use of technology and leveraging the elevation, climate and soils in their vineyards. I tried the Galil Alon which was a blend composed of 30% Syrah, 29% Merlot. 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc.
I had wanted to wait for the weekend and cook something on the grill but decided to open both yesterday and pair them with various items I was making. I made Polenta yesterday with butter and Parmeasan cheese and the wine was perfect.
I used this recipe from Allrecipes.com.
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup polenta
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
- Step 1
Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan; pour polenta slowly into boiling water, whisking constantly until all polenta is stirred in and there are no lumps.
- Step 2
Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until polenta starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Polenta mixture should still be slightly loose. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, whisking every 5 to 6 minutes. When polenta is too thick to whisk, stir with a wooden spoon. Polenta is done when texture is creamy and the individual grains are tender.
- Step 3
Turn off heat and gently stir 2 tablespoons butter into polenta until butter partially melts; mix 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into polenta until cheese has melted. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to thicken; stir and taste for salt before transferring to a serving bowl. Top polenta with remaining 1 tablespoon butter and about 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.
I also made a side of roasted brussel sprouts. The whole experience took maybe 30 minutes and was delicious and ready in a flash which was what I needed.
I also opened the second wine which I received, a Chardonnay. This one came from The Galilee (or Galil) which is the northern most one and is the coldest region in Israel. According to their website: “The vineyards on this volcanic plateau rise from 400 meters (1,300 feet) above sea level to 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) and receive snowfall in the winter. Golan Heights Winery is located in the town of Katzrin in the central.
Having a Mediterranean climate in most areas, I assumed that the region would have need of water and wondered if they irrigate, although they are at elevation. I found out that for them: the 2019 harvest followed Israel’s wettest winter in years, ending five years of drought and they had an unusually cool spring. Apparently then the vintage became more like previous ones with a warm May and average temperatures June-September and then a warm October. I actually tried some of the Chardonnay as an aperitif as I watched my son play in the yard.
Visual: Clear lemon, yellow in color
Nose: Aromas of apple and pear with a hint of lanolin and oak.
Palate: A clean, straightforward Chardonnay with oak notes but not over the top. I found it very nicely balanced with fruit forward notes but enough acidity to keep my interest. It was imminently quaffable and I could finish a bottle on my own if I wasn’t being careful. A perfect wine for a Memorial Day picnic and a toast to the memory of those who have served our country.
The Chardonnay was fine with the Polenta but I would prefer it with the salad I am going to make today or with Tabouleh which I wanted to make yesterday until I got distracted by the Polenta. Today’s salad is a Kale, Quinoa and Cranberries on I got from Katie Workman’s cookbook. She’s the author of the Mom100 blog.
I met Katie two years ago at a Christmas dinner for Les Dames d’Escoffier of which we are both members of the NYC chapter. Thin as a reed, I found her engaging and hysterical and boy can she cook. I loved her recipe which is in the book I own but I can’t find so I will link to another woman’s blog who also was enamored of the recipe and wrote about it.
This will pair perfectly with the Chardonnay and lucky for me, I have some left in the bottle. Thank you Yarden for the samples and Jeff for the effort to put this together.
Join us today for our wine pairing weekend buddies and get some great ideas to try with Yarden Wines. Why not join our conversation on today, Saturday, May 23 10:00-11:00am CDT. Just look us up at #WinePW on Twitter and jump in the chat!
- Terri at Our Good Life shares “Grilled Mahi Mahi and Gilgal Sauvignon Blanc. Our Good Life”
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares “The Eternal Light Shines in Galilee: Yarden Merlot, Pinot Gris”
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Lamb Stuffed Eggplant and a perfect Wine from Galilee”
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen shares “Yarden Wines Paired with Japanese Surf ‘n Turf”
- Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Off The Beaten Path – Two Wines From Isreal’s Galilee Appellation”
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Of Israeli wines, long-ago memories, and Harvey’s takeout”
- David at Cooking Chat shares “Pairings for Gilgal Sauvignon Blanc from Israel”
- Payal at Keep the Peas shares “Israeli Wine with the Diverse Cuisine of the Diaspora”
- Nicole at Somms Table shares “Memories of Yarden Wines with a side of Meatball Shakshuka”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Pairings with Wines from Israel”
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Peppered Brisket, Honeyed Onions, and the 2106 Galil Mountain ‘Ela’”
- Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairings shares “Enjoying Gilgal Cab Sauvignon – Merlot and Yarden Pinot Gris with Grilled Wagyu Steak, Alaska Sockeye Salmon and Poke Ahi Tuna Bowl”
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Two Fisted Wine Pairing with Yarden Wines”
- and here at Avvinare I am sharing “Visiting Israel for Memorial Day Through Yarden Wines”