Changes at Amphorae

Yonatan Sternberg goes on a tour of Amphorae Winery and reveals the fruits of change.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a tour of the Amphorae Winery and a press unveiling of the winery's premium label, titled Unica. Over the past few years, the Amphorae Winery has undergone some major changes. Amphorae was first established in 2000 with talented Gil Shatzberg (currently at Recanati) serving as head winemaker. Soon after, Amphorae was recognized by many as one of the leading Israeli boutique wineries.

Since, the winery has changed hands and winemakers a couple of times, until finally being purchased by Russian investor, Vladimir Dubov. Dubov appointed wine consultant Dr. Arcadi Papikian as partner and head winemaker, and relocated the winery to the picturesque Mekura Farm.

Before visiting the winery we were taken on an interesting tour of the farm by Guy Rilov, who controls and cultivates the land at Mekura, growing a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables and producing an assortment of olive oils as well.

Before I describe the wines, it is important to note that the wines from 2006 were produced by previous wine maker David Bar Ilan. Papikian mentioned proudly that from the 2009 vintage the winery will be using the services of the renowned French wine consultant Michel Rolland. ‘Rolland,’ says Papikian, ‘received several requests from Israeli wineries, after carefully examining our offer and sending two teams to visit and sample our wines, he finally decided to work with Amphorae.’ It will be interesting to see how this affects Amphorae's offerings in the future.

The Unica series currently consists of three red wines, one varietal Cab and two blends, baring price tags ranging from NIS 275-300.

Amphorae, Merlot - Barbera, Unica, 2006 – A blend of 83% Merlot and 17% Barbera, this was my favorite and in my opinion the most interesting of the three. Medium, leaning towards full bodied, the wine opens with a rather alcoholic nose; then shows a variety of red berry fruits, cherries, oak, freshly chopped herbs and cloves.

Amphorae, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Shiraz, Unica, 2006 –again opening with rather alcoholic and oaky nose, firm and still gripping tannins, the wine is showing a variety of ripe black and red fruits, plums, all leading to a long finish.

Amphorae, Cabernet Sauvignon, Unica, 2006 – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from vineyards situated in Psagot and Manara, dark impenetrable purple towards garnet in color, full bodied and concentrated, the wine offers mostly black with some fruits, black cherries, spicy wood and some green and smoky notes as well.