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  • Writer's pictureLee Hoffmann Agiv

A non-compromising winemaking

When I think of the reasons I chose wine as my profession, the biggest one is PASSION. Something about wine just gets me going. Like magic. Therefore, when I met with Nitzan Swersky from Ahat winery, I immediately felt mesmerized.

Nitzan is the owner of Ahat. She is the winemaker and the face of the brand. Her winery was born out of love and passion to wine and nature. Nitzan studied winemaking in Milan and Madrid. She worked in wineries in Italy and South Africa. As a passion driven person, she wanted to grow her kids in Israel, so she decided to come back home. I was very inspired by her decision. It is not easy to move to a different country, and even harder to come back after so many years. As a mother and a career woman, I also find myself debating with these dilemmas all the time.

After moving back to Israel, Nitzan started working as a winemaker in one of the biggest wineries in Israel- Barkan winery. She felt that something is missing. After her third child was born, Nitzan went on a new adventure and started producing her very own wines. I am not sure what kind of expectations she had that time, but I guess when you give it your heart- you get heart in return. It didn’t take much time for Nitzan to get noticed by people from the local wine industry, and due to some help from good friends, her wine was sold very quickly. I remember when Eldad Levy, a well-known wine importer in Israel, wrote a Facebook post about her wine, and I knew I had to taste it. It was silky, complexed, well balanced and soooo yummy. Love at first sight.

As the loyal person she is, for years Nitzan produced only one type of wine. White wine made mainly with Roussanne and Viogniers grapes. She worked extremely hard every year to get the best grapes she could find. This year, for the first time, Nitzan produced two different types of wines. We tasted them together. It was so interesting that I had to share it with you!

The first thing I noticed are the labels, designed by Kedem Shinar. Each vintage gets its own drawing of a different plant that's common around the vineyards, and also a permanent drawing of the common Bee Eater bird. So beautiful.

Roussanne Viogniers, Ahat, 2018

This blend is 70% Roussanne from the Jerusalem mountains and 30% Viogniers from the Upper Galilee. Usually this is a 50-50% blend, but this year the Viogniers really shriveled and had extraordinarily little fluids in it. Nitzan had to decide and change the blend accordingly. The wine aged in oak and stainless still vessels, and enjoyed some Lees contact to give it more texture and complexity.

What can I tell you? What a precious juice this wine is. Golden color, with an amazing and complex aroma of banana, roses, and a very refreshing perfume. It also has some medicinal hints, that I really enjoyed. On the palate the wine is very balanced. It reminded me of mint candy, with some lemongrass and herbaceous flavors. This wine’s finish was silky and soft. Such a delight!

Chenin Blanc, Ahat, 2018

The grapes came from Nana’s vineyards in the desert of Israel. Nana takes a really good care of the vines for Nitzan & the work pays off. After fermentation, 45% of the wine goes into oak barrels with Lees contact. For me there is a connecting line between the two wines, due to the Lees contact work in both.

This Chenin is very dry, rich, herbaceous and has a delicate bitterness to it. Also, some white pepper spicy notes. OMG I just love it!!! On the side of my tongue I felt a metallic taste. It has layers of richness. With that being said, this wine is also floral and refreshing. What can I say? Nitzan- you made a good deal!

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