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Haifa ‘Tastings for Peace’ draw crowds

An Israeli wine merchant is holding hugely popular ‘Tastings for Peace’ – with both Lebanese and Israeli wines on the table.

The tastings, held every Thursday, attract wine lovers from all over Israel, Andre Suidan of the Special Reserve Wine Shop in Haifa told decanter.com.

‘The first one we held, last Thursday, was fully booked within three hours,’ he said.

No Lebanese aficionadoes can come for obvious reasons, ‘though I wish they could,’ Suidan said. He added that Michael Karam, Lebanon’s most senior wine authority, has written up the tastings in his newspaper column.

The situation is not uncontroversial. For a start it is illegal to sell Lebanese products in Israel – it is considered commerce with an enemy state – on pain of a fine or a possible prison sentence. The wines for the tastings therefore come from Suidan’s private cellar.

But, he added, despite the ever-escalating and bloody conflict with Lebanon – Haifa itself is devastated from 20-30 Hizbullah rocket attacks a day – he wasn’t aware of anyone trying to boycott his the tasting. ‘I’m sure there were people who were against it but they didn’t tell us,’ he said.

Wines tasted include all the great Lebanese producers including Chateau Musar and Kefraya, and Israeli wines including Tzora and Bustan.

As a preface to his tasting notes Suidan writes, ‘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, he goes on, Paradise is an illusion created by wine among other things. ‘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.’

Wines tasted:

Cabernet Sauvignon Bustan, Israel 1995.

Chateau Musar, Ghazir Lebanon 1995.

Cuvee Irini Tzora, Israel 1996.

Chateau Musar, Ghazir Lebanon 1996.

Merlot Galil region, Caesarea Cellars 1997

Chateau Musar, Ghazir Lebanon 1997.

Cabernet Sauvignon , Golan Heights, Yarden 1998.

Chateau Kefraya, Bekaa Lebanon 1998

Cabernet Sauvignon Flam Reserve 1999

Chateau Kefraya, Bekaa Lebanon 1999

Written by Adam Lechmere

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