For the first time, ten Lebanese wineries have joined forces to launch Wines of Lebanon in the UK, a campaign dedicated to promoting the region’s wines.
While Lebanon has been making wine for thousands of years, its wines are little known among UK consumers – although connoisseurs consider them some of the finest in the world.
One of the most celebrated Lebanese winemakers, Serge Hochar of Chateau Musar, was Decanter’s first Man of the Year in 1984.
Now members of the Union Vinicole du Liban (UVL), the country’s trade association, have come together to try to increase their country’s profile in the UK.
Michael Karam, a Beirut-based journalist and author of Wines of Lebanon said the Lebanese wines hovered ‘on the fringes of stardom’.
‘This campaign is exactly what Lebanon needs to move it forward and continue to get its wines taken seriously on the international stage.’
Lebanese – and Israeli – wineries have long had plaudits from the wine elite. In 2008, Robert Parker heaped praise on Israel, awarding 14 of its wineries 90 points or more.
Lebanon’s wineries, the best-known of which are Musar, Ksara, Kefraya and Massaya (not a member of the campaign) are celebrated in fine wine circles.
Despite their troubled history – during Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006, production in the Bekaa Valley, home to Musar and other important wineries, was practically stopped – wine has often bought the two countries together.
During the war, Israeli wine merchant Andre Suidan held hugely popular, and illegal, ‘Tastings for Peace’, with both Lebanese and Israeli wines on the table, in Haifa in Israel.
The members of the campaign are Chateau Ka, Chateau Kefraya, Chateau Khoury, Chateau Ksara, Chateau Musar, Clos St Thomas, Domaine Wardy,
Domaine des Tourelles, Heritage and Karam Winery (no connection to Michael Karam).
Campaign publicist Madeleine Waters pointed out that Lebanon is currently enjoying something of a renaissance as a tourist destination. Once known as the ‘Paris of the East’, Beirut was last year named as ‘one of the 44 places to go in 2009’ by the New York Times, and in October Gordon Campbell Gray of One Aldwych and Dukes London opened the Beirut hotel Le Gray.
Bordeaux 2009: All the coverage
Written by Adam Lechmere