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Tasting Peace


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Cross border Lebanese – Israeli Wine Tasting.

Thursday July 20, 2006

A peaceful Mediterranean is a dream world. Sunny blue skies, blue sea, great simple food, great weather and an enchanting atmosphere, paradise on earth. Yet, paradise is an exclusive place. It is a place for those who can afford the apples and their serpents turning the rest into nothing but a temporary illusion, an illusion enhanced by wine-one of three pillars the Mediterranean exists on.

Following is a tasting of one very important thing we share with our Lebanese brethren and perhaps the finest cure for countless scars both sides share.

Cabernet Sauvignon Bustan, Israel 1995.

The devotion of Mr. Fogler to the couple of barrels he produces is well expressed in the second wine he produces. Sharp well expressed Galilee Cabernet flavors with enough acidity to allow another 2 years of development.

The oak on this medium bodied Cabernet had perfectly blended in and is showing an appealing toasted nose notably older bitter chocolate and caramel and a well balanced body with a spicy finish.

I would expect more complexity of a 10 year old, yet the dominant barrel sets the tempo and the fruit is somehow in the back behind a still sharp acidity.

Drink now -2008.

Chateau Musar, Ghazir Lebanon 1995.

Perhaps one of the most distinctive Musars of the 90's if one is to generalize about this unique winery and vintage expressive wines.

Light red shifting into brick colored edges

The Volatile acidity jumps up the nose to reside as a pillar for what follows: a wide array of earthy notes, dried peaches and prunes, dried herbs and complimenting leather and oak. The impressive bouquet is a promise of width and complexity for those who connect.

In the mouth, a complex gentle fruit, sharp acidity and heavier earthy flavor provide for this distinctive structure ending with spicy and mild oak finish accompanied by a thin but sharp acidity.

The Cabernet characteristics tend to disappear under a complex unit of sharp acidic yet refined flavors proving the ingenuity of the creator.

What a show!

Drink now – 2010.

Cuvee Irini Tzora, Israel 1996.

28 month in French and Russian oak with less than 10% new barrels is one of Roni James' greatest creations.

Red- brick-numb color with lots of depth.

Sweet dried fruit aromas blend with fresh and dried herbs with a new layer of aroma surfacing every few seconds. Sweet Tobacco and mild toasted oak join the fiesta setting some sort of a frame to the erupting bouquet.

Smooth and chewy on the entrance accompanied by mild complimenting acidity concentrated dried fruit with some fresh herbs leading the flavors from the midst of the tongue to a complimenting biter/ toasted finish of a mineral aspect.

Just 12% alcohol yet the 50% merlot 50% Cabernet wine is a one perfectly balanced full-bodied, full flavored unit with a very long finish.

Drink now – 2009.

Chateau Musar, Ghazir Lebanon 1996.

Perhaps the best sign of a wineries dedication to its vineyard and respect to nature is the lack of consistency between one vintage to the other and this 1996 Musar sets the perfect example.

A deeper darker color than the pale redish aspects of an aged Musar.

An upfront well defined fruity nose with hints of dried herbs and a mild French oak finish.

Well defined flavors in the mouth yet the wine seems to lack the multi-Musar dimension that takes us from friendliness to rough but interesting sense enchanting ride of layers and flavors.

Further development of character could prove interesting yet I find the lack of acidity of this vintage to derive this wine of a solid structure and from further development.

Merlot Galil region, Caesarea Cellars 1997

The first release from this showcase "Caesarea Cellars" and a pleasant one.

Dark reddish color with little depth.

Smooth sweet fruit aroma with dominant vanilla that adds further sweetness to the bouquet and confines it to one direction.

Smooth and gentle, simple and enjoyable well balanced wine that seem to be one dimensional as an everyday wine.

This fairly simple wine is at its peak so it should best be drunk now through 2007.

Perhaps there is a reason why our Lebanese colleagues tend to avoid this variety.

Chateau Musar, Ghazir Lebanon 1997.

Massive and powerful are two thoughts that surface when the first impression of this wine comes to mind.

A rich and powerful nose with distinctive volatile acidity that leads the aromas of this very slow to open wine. 6 hours of an open bottle had done little to illuminate this wine's layers and complexity yet perhaps a dominant Cabernet and oak combination may derive this wine from its intended balance.

The mouth continues the features of the nose, this time with a too dominant acidity probably due to the addition of Tartaric acid. Potential is surely there and a couple or more years will add further complexity to this sleeping wrestler yet, finess and balance will not be the highlights of this wine.

Too much Cabernet flavors that only seem to intensify as the wine become in contact with air.

Drink 2008-2015

Cabernet Sauvignon , Golan Heights, Yarden 1998.

The problematic heat waves of 1998 seem to had done little to shake the basis of one of the most consistent quality wines Israel produces.

Deep concentrated red-dark color.

Lots of strength is displayed through the nose of a new oak character mildly coated with a sweet juicy aspect of little complexity.

An impressive entry to the mouth that fails to develop and create the complexity needed for this wine's balance.

Still young with powerful tannins and a complimenting acidity that might be drunk now but I would suggest 3 more years that may allow the wine to ripen and soften creating a fuller mouth-feel.

Drink 2008-2010.

Chateau Kefraya, Bekaa Lebanon 1998

More grape varieties are stepping in on the Lebanese side yet the traditional Musar techniques seem to prove more distinctive.

Pale red colors shifting into a darker center with a considerable depth.

A wonderfully complex nose is very well expressed as a cabernet structured bouquet with complimenting sharp fruity flavors of an acidic aspect. Should it have been deeper with more layers, I would have been impressed.

Not full mature flavors are the only setback for this rich and chewy wine. It seems the winemaker was too worried about the cleanliness of his product and preferred to blend in some immature wine.

Several minutes more of air and the wine highlights the heavier grapes and flavor.

Could be enjoyed now but 2 more years mat bring better balance to this uncomplete wine.

Drink 2007-2010.

Cabernet Sauvignon Flam Reserve 1999

This is the first reserve from this leading boutique winery.

Fair Bordeaux color with some depth.

An appealing nose of mildly toasted oak smoothing its way into aromas of prunes and forest berries that are perhaps to gentle to create balance.

Smooth entry to the mouth with a reasonable acidity backing up ripe fruity flavors that tend to disappear under this wine's ripe soft tannins and oaky impression.

This is perhaps the first time I had noted balance and readiness to drink this wine.

Drink now – 2008.

Chateau Kefraya, Bekaa Lebanon 1999

The Syrah steps into every aspect of this wine

Darker color than any of the former Lebanese wine we had tasted before brings a dark cherry colors shifting into a thin brick painted rim.

Expressive fruit that most tasters found appealing declared this wine's modern aspect.

Soft smooth entry continued by concentrated raspberry and black berry flavors, well balanced acidity and a mildly spicy, still a bit immature finish.

Very careful use of oak adds to the complexity of the wine yet derives this wine from its unity of flavors.

Drink now – 2010.

May this whole region be occupied with the growing of fine grapes, the art of making wine and the pleasure of enjoying it with our neighbors who can be nothing else but family, friends or lovers. And may the strength of those who crave for power and submission be lost on a long dead plant somewhere in space where violence, at one point or another, had the upper hand.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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Thanks so much for posting your notes. Food and wine--the great peacemakers.

I have always been impressed with Lebanese wines. I should know more about Israeli wines than I do, but I'm learning.

Best wishes to you in this difficult time.

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Andre, I don't know much about wines in general nor these wines specifically (except for having enjoyed some Yarden wines over the years), but I enjoyed your writing and the sentiments you expressed. I am really unfamiliar with Lebanese wines, but I suppose I could purchase some here in New York. Was it hard for you to obtain the Lebanese wines?

Stay safe.

Michael aka "Pan"


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Thank you Steven.


Commerce with an "enemy" such as Lebanon is illeagl, pretty much like Cuban cigars in the states, yet, we buy privately in Europe and even New-York is an option.

Try AStor wines [ I think bordering the 8th in the village ]they should carry Musar, Kefraya and Kssara.

When it comes to food and wine matching this is where the more experienced Lebanese wines rule.

I had some Sfiha, Kube' and Fatayer as appetizers with the wines.

Thanks for your kind comments.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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