When you do happen to think of the desert what comes to mind? Sand dunes? Camels? Maybe the pyramids? Definitely dry, hot, and arid. And certainly not wine country. I mean that would be like squeezing water from a stone right? Nevertheless, that’s exactly what Israeli winemaker Eran Goldwasser of Yatir winery managed to do (make wine that is).
It didn’t matter that Yatir winery is situated in Negev, a desert region in the south of Israel that spans over 4500 square miles from the city of Be’er Sheva to the resort town of Eilat, and receives about 100 millimeters of rainfall annually (conditions that seem more conducive to supporting shrubs and cacti).
Despite the Negev’s forbidding terrain and climate, Yatir winery has been successfully producing wines here since 2000. In fact, wine grapes have been cultivated in southern Israel for over two thousand years. It’s recently been recognized as a site of unique winemaking.
DAROM by Yatir features wines crafted from Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and Grenache Noir, Red Muscat, Zinfandel, and Marselan that are grown in vineyards situated primarily in the southern Judean Hills, and Arad Valley. The hot and dry, sun-drenched days, and cold nights, the chalky and rocky terrain, and the meticulous application of drip irrigation as well as fertilizers, result in wines for the everyday that are characteristically light and fresh, with a balanced, fruit-driven flavor profile.
The DAROM logo, a desert flower that blossoms in the Negrev, is emblematic of the winery’s ability to successfully produce wines despite seemingly impossible odds. The culture and history of southern Israel, and the centuries-long tradition of winemaking in the region, as much as the terroir, are expressed in these wines.
DAROM by Yatir hosted a media tasting this month in cooperation with Alenbi Kitchen in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The contemporary Israeli cuisine at this casually upscale restaurant provided choice complements to the trio of wines featured that night. It also highlighted the adaptability of these wines to an eclectic array of foods.
DAROM WHITE 2021:
100% Sauvignon Blanc Fermented in stainless steel tanks. Matured for four months in concrete vats.
Crisp and delicate, with a clear gold hue. Aromas of citrus and orchard fruits, and fresh herbs. Notes of lemons, green apples, pears, and grass.
The white wine was paired with a wood oven roasted cauliflower, green tahini, Arabic salsa, za’atar, and sumac. It was also accompanied by a grilled pita stuffed with seasoned ground lamb, and served with charred vegetables, raw tahini, sweet harissa, amba, and cilantro.
DAROM ROSÉ 2021
Blend of 34% Grenache, 33% Zinfandel, and 33% Red Muscat. Fermented in stainless steel tanks. Matured four months in stainless steel tanks.
Refreshing, with a balanced acidity and minerality, and a lively pink hue. Aromas of flower petals, and red berries. Notes of roses, strawberries, and raspberries.
The rose’ was paired with a salad of frisee lettuce, grilled spring onion, toasted almond, asparagus, broccolini, pea shoot, charred grape, quinoa, mint, and buckwheat popcorn, in a citrus honey vinaigrette.
The rose’ was also complemented by a raw hamachi with jalapeno, sweet pepper, pesto, passion fruit, cilantro, parsley, cashew yogurt, buckwheat popcorn, lime and lemon zest, Maldon salt, and grilled sourdough bread.
DAROM Red 2020
Blend of 61% Shiraz, 12% Marselan, 20% Zinfandel, and 7% Grenache Noir.
Fermented in stainless steel tanks, concrete vats, and uncovered wood fermenters. Aged 9 months in concrete vats, and large wood casks.
Medium-bodied, with a balanced acidity, well-rounded tannins, and a long finish. Aromas of dark berries and stone fruits, and spices. Notes of ripe blackberries, cherries, and plums, and pepper.
It was complemented by a grilled boneless ribeye steak with charred eggplant, dried harissa salsa, tomato concasse, green harif, tahini, chickpea crumble, charred pearl onion, crispy shallot, amba coulis, and pine nut.
A delicately sweet and tart dessert of coconut rose water custard with pistachio crumble, and fresh wild berry sauce provided a perfect ending to a well-executed pairing menu.