?By: Daniel Rogov
Wednesday (13 January) was a busy but profitable day. At about 11 a.m. I found myself at the Katlav winery, there in the good company of owner-winemaker Yossi Yittach to do a tasting, almost entirely re-tastings of wines tasted fairly recently, that largely because no wines were produced in 2008, the shnat shmita (Sabbatical year for the vineyards). Our meeting started with coffee and conversation, the conversation ranging from “what’s happening” in the wine industry in the region to an examination of several fairly deep philosophical-moral issues. And then on to the wines.
As an aside, people on several wine boards, including our own, have questioned whether the critic can maintain the required distance between critic and winemaker when making such visits. Indeed one can avoid breaching that limit, and that no matter how much one enjoys, likes or even actively dislikes the winemaker. My logic is twofold. First, as someone pointed out after seeing me recently on television ? when I taste wine it become pretty apparent that I am shutting off from communication and human contact and focusing entirely on the wine. Second, and even more important, at least a random number of those wines are re-tasted blind on following occasions, that allowing me to check my own palate and yes, even my own potential weaknesses. Read through my book and even though I give no clues there to my “feelings” about specific winemakers and one realizes that those feelings have nothing whatever to do with the ratings of the wines I taste.
My thanks for Yossi Yittach for his courtesies during my visit.
Owner-winemaker Yossi Yittach founded this small winery on Moshav Nes Harim in the Jerusalem Mountains in 1996 and released his first wines from the 2000 vintage. The winery draws on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes from local vineyards. In addition to wines produced under the Katlav label, the winery also produces a series of wines under the Shemesh label, those destined primarily for export. Current production is about 20,000 bottles annually. Because of the shnat shmita (Sabbatical year for the vineyards), no wines were produced from the 2008 vintage.
Katlav, Wadi Katlav, 2007:
Katlav, Wadi Katlav, 2007: An oak-aged blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvigon, 35% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot, Deeply aromatic, dark ruby towards garnet, medium-bodied, opens with a medicinal aroma but that blows off rapidly to reveal straightforward black fruits on a lightly spicy background. Not complex but pleasant.Drink now. Score 86. K (Re-tasted 13 Jan 2010)
Katlav, Merlot, 2007: Made entirely from Merlot grapes, dark ruby toward garnet in color, medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins integrating nicely and showing black cherry, cola and nutmeg on toasty oak, those yielding on the finish to hints of mocha and sage. Spoiled somewhat by a medicinal note that seems on the ascendant. Drink now. Score 85. K (Re-tasted 13 Jan 2010)
Katlav, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007: Deep ruby towards garnet, full-bodied, showing rich and round with near-sweet tannins and light notes of cedar and spices. On the nose and palate a tempting array of blackcurrant, blackberry and purple plum fruits, those complemented by hints of mocha and Mediterranean herbs, all lingering nicely. Drink now?2012. Score 89. K (Re-tasted 13 Jan 2010)
Katlav, Pinot Noir, 2007: Oak-aged for 24 months, medium-dark ruby in color, a soft, round and easygoing Pinot opening to show black cherry, red berry and spicy aromas and flavors. Light tannins and a gentle note of the wood make this an easy to drink and just complex enough Pinot. Drink now-2011. Score 86. K (Re-tasted 13 Jan 2010)
Katlav, Pinot Noir-Caberent Sauvignon, 2007: A strange animal in its way but not one that frightens I any way, the Cabernet adding body and tannins, those perhaps better suited to what many perceive as the popular Israeli taste than varietal Pinot Noir. Medium- to full-bodied, with cherry, berry and currant notes supported by lightly gripping tannins and hints of spicy wood. Drink now-2011. Score 86. K (Tasted 13 Jan 2010)
Katlav, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dessert Wine, 2006: Bottled now and showing remarkably like but even better than from a previous tank sample. Not Port-style, not Madeira- or Sherry-style, a rather unique dessert wine, super-dark garnet in color, full-bodied, with soft tannins yielding in the glass to generous sweetness, that balanced by natural acidity. On the nose and palate abundant ripe plums, berries and cassis, those with overlays of white pepper and chocolate, all leading to a fresh and long finish.. Drink now?2014. Score 91. K
Further information can be obtained and orders placed for the Katlav wines by telephoning (054) 7591866. The Wadi Katlav wine goes for NIS 140, the Katlav varietal wines for NIS 180 and the dessert wine for NIS 280 per bottle.