Day Trip To Midbar - Tasting through the 2020 range

I drove two hours to Arad, and later three and a half hours back to Tel Aviv, to meet winemaker Yiftach Lustig and drink through the wines he crafted in the 2020 vintage. Very fine work, indeed - the Chenin Blanc, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc and the Syrah especially stood out. 

For newcomers, Midbar is one of at least five wineries dedicated to making wines from vineyards in the Negev. Yiftach has been the winemaker here since the 2019 and managed to last two full vintages before resigning just an hour before I arrived at the winery. I hope this won't cause his colleagues to stop inviting me over for visits.

Chenin Blanc (pre-bottling barrel sample)

My first guess, tasting this blind, was Chardonnay, and in a way, that's appropriate, for the way it expresses minerals while keeping the fruit, mostly green apples, to a backing role. Which should be the calling card of Chardonnay when handled properly. The nose is complex, with notes of spices and flint, the palate spicy and full flavored.

Chardonnay (pre-bottling barrel sample)

Moving on to an actual Chardonnay, it's easier to spot that the previous wine was a Chenin because the Chardonnay character is more prominent here. No acid adjustment was done. Yiftach has told me a couple of times that he tries hard to preserve apple flavors in Chardonnay, and they're there, even if they are of yellow apples rather than green or red. I don't know if that's due to the desert terroir.


Light but not lightweight, as it carries plenty of flavors - red fruit and herbs - on that light frame. Doesn’t go overboard at all with the Grenache candidness, far from it. 


We tasted three components out of about fifteen, plus a blended sample of the three. Yiftach used different barrels and de-stemmed some lots, to get as much complexity from the fruit. I really love the end result, assuming the blend is indicative.

The first component was slightly reductive and the fruitiest; the second, herbal and earthy. The last, which was unstemmed, was the most interesting and despite the intense nose, the most balanced. The trial blend, had a lovely nose. It had aired enough by that point to show white pepper and a hint of meat. I'm looking forward to a bottle or three. It's quite lovely.

Sauvignon Blanc

Clean, fresh, laden with minerals, the fruit playing a background role, just as it did with the Chenin. A bottle at home shows much more upfront fruit. Both bottles are pleasurable, but not skirting with complexity or finesse.


One day, Viognier will become a sort of litmus-paper test with me. Since I don't like the grape, anyone who manages to make a wine out of it that I like will deserve a special accolade. This is lovely, more elegant than the 2019 version, but less complex, with peaches and apricots and a dash of minerals. 

Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc

Another lovely wine. On the one hand, it's more intense than the straight Sauvignon Blanc, the nose quite layered; on the other hand, the Semillon offers a core of fresh yellow fruit, so there's a tension between the tense mineral surface and the more mellow center.

Pinot Noir 

I don't really have a lot of insights about this wine. It doesn't strike me as very complex. It's a fun wine, just like the Rose. Yiftach is quite self-critical and he felt he could have done better with both wines.