Friday afternoon Dina and I set out to visit the Yaffo Winery in Neve Michael. We had meant to go much earlier in the day, but our Friday “sidurim” took us a good bit longer than planned.
The winery is owned and operated by Moshe and Anne Celnicker, and as the name suggests, the winery was once located in Yaffo. From there it moved to the basement of the Celnicker home in Ramat Hahayal, and finally to Neve Michael where the winery’s vineyards are located.
I only found out about the Yaffo Winery last year while compiling my wineries map, and I was able to sample their wines for the first time this past summer at the annual Israel Museum wine festival .
Last week I received a mailing from Yaffo announcing the release of their 2009 Carignan and I decided that it was definitely time for a visit.
Carignan is a much maligned grape in Israel, owing to the the large quantity of poor quality wine made from this grape in years past. Once quality wines started being produced here, many Carignan vineyards were pulled out and replanted with more “serious” grapes, and some were just neglected and became overgrown with weeds.
A few years ago, someone (I have no idea who) discovered that the old Carignan vines yielded grapes that produce remarkably good wine. I have had very good Carignan from the S’de Boker, Somek, Vitkin, and Kantharos Wineries, and now I am pleased to add Yaffo to the list.
The Yaffo Carignan is medium bodied and fruity, with soft tanins. I enjoyed it rather much and Dina liked it even more. This wine will go very nicely with Italian food, not-too-spicy chicken, curry, and many kinds of cheeses.
We also tried Yaffo’s other wines including their 2009 Merlot Syrah, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2008 Heritage – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Shiraz. I won’t try to describe all of these, but suffice it to say that I didn’t have a wine I didn’t like.
Moshe and Anne were wonderful hosts and made us feel quite at home.
In a couple of weeks Yaffo will be releasing their 2010 Chardonnay, and that is certainly excuse enough to go back for another visit.