Itay Lahat is arguably Israel’s Michel Rolland, that is the most visible, active and respected wine consultant. He advises wineries all over Israel. Many one hears about (Seror, Koshor, Gush Etzion etc etc) and many more of his contributions are not published. Suffice to say he is a very significant presence on the Israel wine scene.
Lahat studied at Adelaide University in Australia and worked for Barkan – Segal as a winemaker viticulturist. Barkan is today the largest winery in Israel. As such Lahat was part of a winemaking team producing mass market, good value wine and also fine, premium handmade wines at the top level. Lahat became an independent wine consultant in 2008 and is today at the top of his profession.
Itay Lahat also produces his own wines under the Lahat label, with the logo written in very attractive Japanese style script. He is driven to make Israeli wines with a sense of place and he is as such pioneering the fourth Israeli wine revolution with his colleagues, that of finding an Israeli identity. (The other revolutions were the French revolution at the end of the 19th century – the founding of a modern Israeli wine industry by Rothschild; the New World revolution in the 1980’s – the introduction of modern technology to Israel; and the Boutique revolution that started in the 1990’s.)
Lahat is a fervent believer in Southern Rhone as a benchmark for Israel, believes in blends and in a fusion between Mediterranean varieties and those that have succeeded here. An example is the Lahat Adom (Adom means red in Hebrew) where the wine is mainly made from Syrah, which he blends with a little Cabernet Sauvignon. His white is called Lahat Lavan (lavan means white) and the 2016 is made from Mediterranean varieties Roussanne, Viognier with a little Sauvignon Blanc. Lahat Adom comes from the Golan Heights and the Lavan comes from the Judean Hills. This year he has also made a GSM for the first time in experiemental quantities.
In a vertical tasting Lahat showed wines from the last four vintages from 2013 – 2016. The quality of the wines was quite clear and the ageability of the wines, the white too, was very noticeable. They are produced in tiny quantities – 4,800 bottles in total and so are reasonably rare and will be much sought after but they are well priced and represent excellent value.
This is a fine practitioner making fine wines showing the way for Israel in the future. www.wines-Israel.com will follow the continued upward progress of Lahat wines with interest.
PHOTOS: Eyal Keren