The white wine choice
As fun as it is to explore obscure grapes, it's just as exciting to drink wines from obscure wine regions.
Like, for example, Lebanon.
Hardly obscure as a geographic area, Lebanon is, if not the oldest, one of the first wine production sites in the world. The Lebanese were also first exporters of wine—to markets such as Egypt and the UK. Despite its long history, the modern-day wine industry is young but growing, with annual production of about 600,000 cases.
Even though Lebanon has plenty of indigenous grapes, they tend to favor French (and international) varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc (all grapes used in Bordeaux). Most wines are grown in the Bekaa Valley in the northern part of the country.
And naturally, some exports make it out to Boston.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of tasting an example of a mid-priced Lebanese wine at Phoenicia, a friendly restaurant on Cambridge Street in Beacon Hill. After I vacillated between ordering an Australian vs. Californian white on that hot day, the owner brought to my attention a bottle of a Lebanese white. Only $25/bottle. A deal for restaurant prices.
Skeptical, but always curious, I ordered it. Of course.
The white was from the Clos St. Thomas winery, a blend called "Les Gourmets Blanc". It was made from 92% Chardonnay and 8% Sauvignon Blanc. It was light and zesty, more Sauvignon Blanc in character than a Chardonnay, with a very floral nose at first sniff. Overall, the taste was pleasant and unique--perfect for spicy Middle-Eastern appetizers or a palate cleanser on its own. According to the bottle, it won gold medals at two international wine competitions.
Even with the country's turbulent current events and political instablity, Lebanon producers find time to grow grapes and expand their fledging export industry. This means not all is lost for a culture. My palate welcomes more.
240 Cambridge St
(between Anderson St & Blossom St)
Boston, MA 02114