The Golan Heights Winery has launched their new expression of Yarden Rom, from the 2019 vintage. This is a rarely produced prestige wine of the winery. Whereas the Yarden Katzrin is a Bordeaux blend, the Rom blend also incorporated Syrah.
The first Yarden Rom was produced in 2006 and it was launched at the Yarden Wine & Culinary Festival in 2010. Yarden is the premier label of the Golan Heights Winery and Rom is a Hebrew word that means summit. The wine was a blend of 37% Syrah, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Merlot. It was made in a limited edition of 6,000 bottles. The wine was a joint venture between Victor Schoenfeld, head winemaker and Zelma Long, wine consultant. The late wine critic Daniel Rogov scored the wine 96 points and remarked that it was possibly the finest wine ever made in Israel
Victor Schoenfeld, for over thirty years the winemaker of the Golan Heights Winery, needs no introduction. Zelma Long is an iconic name in the wine world and particularly in California. She was most famous as winemaker of Robert Mondavi Winery and then as winemaker and later as president and CEO of Simi Winery. She is owner of the Vilafonte Winery in South Africa and has consulted in California, Washington, Germany, France…and Israel. The wine was fashioned from specific vineyard blocks in the central and northern Golan Heights, which she and Victor were focusing on, in a project to further improve quality. She began to be the wine consultant for the Golan Heights Winery in 2002 and continued until 2016.
There have been only been six vintages of Yarden Rom produced. The last was from the 2014 vintage. Until now that is. The Golan Heights Winery launched the new Rom, from the 2019 vintage at the Israel Museum of Art in Tel Aviv. Guests arrived to the beautiful sound of a harpist and sipped the Yarden Rose Brut 2016 as an aperitif. A brief tour of the museum was arranged at which a guide chose three very different paintings to illustrate some joint features in the world of art and wine. It was a clever idea and interesting.
At the tutored tasting, Victor Schoenfeld explained about the creation of the Rom concept. He referred to Zelma Long with affection as a mentor. The first wine tasted was the Yarden Rom 2014, a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Syrah and 14% Merlot. It still showed youthful, with ripe fruit aromas and a hint of smokiness on the palate. Then he showed the three varietals that were components of the blend, via three Yarden wines from the 2019 vintage. The wines tasted were Yarden Merlot 2019, Yarden Syrah 2019 and Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2019. These three wines showed high quality, excellent drinkability, and in terms of premium wines in Israel today, they represent great value.
After this introduction, the Yarden Rom 2019 was poured. It is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Syrah and 24% Merlot and only 38 barrels were produced (11,400 bottles approximately). The wine was rich, opulent, spicy, with deep fruit aromas, warmth of the Israeli sun and a backdrop of earthy, meaty flavors. It finished with a focused elegance, and showed long, well balanced, lingering length. Though drinking well now, it was obviously a baby worthy of long cellaring. It will be sought after by collectors.
Then the guests settled down to a meal prepared by Michelin chef Gal Ben Moshe’s Pastel Restaurant. At this stage the reds were accompanied by a fresh, minerally white, the Yarden Pinot Gris 2022. The combination of wine, food and art showed the beautiful side of Israel. The venue was an inspired choice.
Adam Montefiore is a winery insider turned wine writer. He has advanced Israeli wine for 35 years and is referred to as the English voice of Israeli wine. He is the wine writer for the Jerusalem Post. www.adammontefiore.com
Photo of Victor Schoenfeld, head winemaker, Shauli Ben Arav, finance director & Assaf Ben Dov, CEO, all from the Golan Heights Winery. Credit: Shai Ashkenazi