Passion and Patience of Shuki Yashuv

By: Sergey Belozerov
About the owner and the winemaker of Agur
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Passion and Patience of Shuki Yashuv

?By: Sergey Belozerov

In outward appearance, Shuki Yashuv, the owner and the winemaker of Agur, belongs to the same group of the ?extravagant scientists? (by the way, they are friends), as well as with Zeev Dunie from Sea Horse and Shlomi Tsadok from Ben Hannah. He is also famous for his ?winemaker dance? ? an eccentric performance at his degustations. But this first impression is really superficial, because Shuki is very rational and knows very well what he wants from himself and his occupation.

The history of the self-made winemaker Shuki Yashuv is rather typical for Israel. He did not manage to win the ?pioneer? laurels – Margalit and Ben-Zaken were the first to get them. Nor did he establish a profitable relationship with an ex Carmel employee – as did the Binyamina, Tishbi and Kfar Tabor, who offered top-positions to Carmel employees Amram Sourasky, Jonathan Tishbi and Arieh Nesher. Not forgetting ?Flam?, the brainchild of former chief enologist of Carmel Israel Flam. Moreover, not so long ago, Shuki deliberately avoided the ?bear hugs? of the flagship of the Israeli wine industry – Handcrafted Wines of Israel ? a consortium of the boutique wineries with Carmel patronage who sell their wine abroad and even use its own equipment for bottling wine. Main regalia of Agur Winery with its mighty wines were limited with ?bronze? and ?silver? medals in Israeli wine contests for Cabernet-Merlot 2000 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 and some articles in the magazine Decanter and other prestigious editions. Shuki Yashuv?s ancestors came to the ?Promised Land? from Russia and Eastern Europe in 1920. Shuki was born in Tel-Aviv in 1955, but his childhood and youth were spent in Brazil, Mexico and Austria (his father was a delegate of the Jewish Agency), where he learned five foreign languages. When he came back home, he entered the Israeli army and defended his country as the parachutist during the war in Lebanon. He graduated from University with the master?s degree in European History, and after 20 years of working as a cabinet maker, moved together with his wife Evelyn and his two daughters to Agur Moshav in the Ella Valley. Two years later, under the project of ?Partnership 2000? ? joint project of the local Jewish agency office and Jewish commune in Washington ? Shuki together with Zeev Dunie founded Elul winery (elul ? the month in the Jewish calendar corresponding to our August-September, time for grape harvest). Their first wine was a blending of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Merlo (30%), seasoned in oak barrels for 14 months. The experience proved to be successful: in spite of the slightly harsh tannins; Elul was full-bodied, of beautiful garnet color, remarkable for its subtlety and balance, gracefully revealing a bouquet of spicy notes with hints of plums and currants with a good aftertaste. Since 2000, Shuki and Dunie decided to work separately. In the same year within the framework of ?Partnership 2000? Shuki visited Washington. The trip was very useful. And not just because he found a market for his wines. Feeling the interest of Americans, he realized that the non-kosher wine has its perspective, that his products are able to express the character of his native land, its ancient traditions and modern material culture without the stamp of approval from rabbi. Upon returning home, Shuki bottled the former blend of Elul (later named Kessem) under the brand of Agur. This result met the expectations. One-year exposure in barrels perfectly complemented the flavors of pomegranate, black cherry and currant with the spicy taste of Mediterranean herbs and smoky taste of oak and vanilla. This wine became prize-winning and brought fame to the winery and confidence in the correctness of the chosen path to Shuki. Soon Shuki started production of a Cabernet Sauvignon, which in 2003 was named Sp?cial Res?rve. Agur now produces more than 15 thousand bottles of wine per year. In addition, there are other wines at the moment which are kept in the oak barrels: the varietal merlot, which promises to be the best wine of the winery (opaque dark purple color, ripe plum dominant, cherries, coffee tones in the background of spicy flavor, slightly smoky notes of oak and subtle mineral tones), cabernet franc (full-bodied, with soft tannins, dominating taste of red berries ready to develop into sweet cherries with a hint of thyme and the presence of tobacco notes) and pink cabernet sauvignon, in style slightly reminiscent of its fellows from Anjou. The moshav takes no part in the affairs of the winery, and therefore Shuki has to settle for a long-term leasing of vineyards in other places, but in the same valley of Ella, along the old Roman via maris – the ancient road from Jerusalem and Bethlehem to the coast. His Cabernet Sauvignon Agur receives from laterite-limestone area in the Mate, at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level, and rocky slopes Hurbet-Saris near Shoresh, located 300 meters above. Merlot grows in Nahal haklil to the south from Agur, which is known in Israel for its lowest average temperatures and their sharp fluctuations during the day. Being an autodidact in the art of winemaking, Shuki has no preference for any of the existing styles of winemaking, although the European, especially Italian influence, according to him, still prevails. He boldly experiments with different styles, as experiments are a form of existence for creative minds. The son of a diplomat, a former paratrooper, a historian and a cabinetmaker found in wine-making all the things he lacked before. He is convinced that the winemaker can express himself in his craft only if he masters all its secrets. To achieve harmony, one needs to immerse oneself in the creation of wine as an exciting adventure and to make it his real passion, a continuous act of creation and a way of living at the same time. And add all one?s patience. There must be an equal amount of passion and patience. Only then the winemaker will be able to turn the fermented grape juice into a generous gift of land that has raised the grapes and create the wine with the bouquet of unique elegance and strength.
Passion and patience – that’s life.
To life! Le’hayim! ? English translation of an article from the journal?Enoteka,, Performed at the behest of By The “Asti Group” Exhibition Company specially for the website ?

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