I was wondering whether to start this post with a load of quotes from all the 1,000 year BC Israelite prophets that you can find on Wikipedia, but not to worry, the feeling has passed. I think I’ll just crack on by repeating what Ant had mentioned in his post this week. Lebanon is one of the oldest wine production countries in the world!
I’ll start with the elephant in the room. It’s not historically, and I’m talking about thousands of years here going right up to modern days, the most stable of areas. There have been plenty of conflicts (as recently as 2006), political upheavals, and without trying to sound too much of a tool here, just plain and simple bad PR! You think of Lebanon and the first thing that pops into most people’s head…well it’s probably not wine. And that’s massively unfair. So let’s try right that wrong a little bit.
Thing is it’s a very warm country, but it’s also right on the Med too. This perfect climate was not wasted on Jesuits and other Frenchmen arriving here in the 1850s who started reviving the wine industry and setting up a few wineries. The French hung around and finally cracked the locals into drinking more and more wine.
The French influence is still very evident today with most of the wineries being called “Château Something or Other”. There are a couple of indigenous grapes knocking around but the main grapes planted are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, and so on. All standard bearers of the wine industry in the South of France.
The number of wineries has risen from 5 in 1998 to over 30 today. Some of you out there might have heard of Chateau Musar maybe? It’s the one that “cracked” the UK in the 70s and 80s. My pick from Majestic is the second wine from Musar, made for earlier drinking. Most of the 30 wineries are somewhere gaining international recognition, so it’s only right that NWTW has a go!
Other posts in NWTW Week 18:
Top picture is from www.habeeb.com, a one stop shop for anyone fancying more info on Lebanon!