?By: Daniel Rogov
On Thursday, 25 February, I visited the Yaffo Winery. I recall the first time I visited Yaffo and met Moshe and Anne Celniker who were then making their wine in their Ramat HaHayal home. Today, with a far more formal winery located in the Ella Valley and with their son, Stephan Celniker acting as winemaker, Yaffo is producing about 25,000 bottles annually and has plans to grow to 40,000.. Grapes, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Carignan and Chardonnay come largely from the winery’s own vineyards on Moshav Neve Micha’el.
My thanks to the Celnikers for their courtesies during my visit as well as for their good company and some very pleasant cheeses and conversation after the tasting.
Yaffo, Chardonnay, 2009: Developed on its lees in stainless steel together with oak staves for two months, light, bright gold in color, with generous but not excessive acidity to support aromas and flavors of white peaches and citrus, a crisply clean and refreshing wine. Not complex but a good quaffer. Drink now. NIS 68. Score 86. (Tasted 25 Feb 2010)
Yaffo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008: Oak aged for 12 months and blended with 10% Merlot, showing medium-dark ruby towards garnet. Medium-bodied with soft tannins and a moderate hand with spicy oak, opens to show raspberry, cherry and cassis fruits, those supported nicely by notes of stony minerals. Drink now-2011. NIS 89. Score 87. (Tasted 25 Feb 2010)
Yaffo, Merlot-Syrah, 2008: A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Syrah, oak aged in a combination of new and older barriques for 12 months. Garnet towards royal purple, opens with raspberries and then goes to blackberries and currants, all with gentle hints of spices and leather. Generous and long. Drink now-2012. NIS 89. Score 88. (Tasted 25 Feb 2010)
Yaffo, Heritage, 2006: Dark garnet, full-bodied round, a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Merlot, reflecting its 16 months of oak-aging with spices and cinnamon notes, those highlighting black fruits, tobacco and a hint of licorice that comes in on the finish. Long, round and generous. Drink now-2012. Round, soft and generous. NIS 130. Score 90. (Re-tasted 25 Feb 2010)