AG Pick: Yarden Syrah 2005

If you were to taste this wine without seeing the label, you might think it was from the northern Rhône region in France.  Elegant with earthy notes and good acidity, it displays characteristics of an Old World wine.  Once the label is revealed, it would certainly be surprising that this red comes from Israel, a country that’s now producing delicious wines.

The 2005 Yarden Syrah comes from the Galilee, Israel’s most northern appellation.  Galilee includes the Golan Heights, a volcanic plateau that is the coldest region in Israel.  This Syrah is made with grapes from one vineyard in the northern Golan and two vineyards in the central Golan.

The cooler weather and the somewhat difficult growing season are evident in the wine.  As described by the winemaking team at Yarden, below average temperatures over the summer led to a “hectic, relatively short harvest.”  The resulting vintage has higher acidity and somewhat restrained flavors — quite different than the big, bold Syrahs of central California.

Purple-red in color, the 2005 Yarden Syrah has aromas of black fruit and smoke.  On the palate, layers of blackberry, plum and boysenberry mingle with tobacco, leather and black pepper.  In the mouth it’s silky without being heavy, with a lingering spicy finish.  A touch of oak from 18 months in small French barrels adds complexity.

Pair the Yarden Syrah with lamb, filet mignon or full-flavored chicken or pasta dishes.

The wine is Kosher, though its appeal extends far beyond those who observe these dietary laws.

A bottle of the 2005 Yarden Syrah costs $25.

14.5% alcohol by volume

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