~*209 Lebanese Trips…

I didn’t really get the chance to travel this summer, but I managed somehow to travel with wine and more precisely with 209 Lebanese wine… Do not let your mind wander, misinterpreting my wine trips… They didn’t actually revolve around endless summer drinking nights wishing upon a cork or three but happened throughout long summer days, road tripping, discovering new areas in Lebanon, demystifying terroir, connecting taste to place and connecting wine producers and experts to wine lovers…

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Contrary to your traditional assumptions, all of the above weren’t made possible with a travel agency… They are the offline, on the ground experience offered by a startup: “209 Lebanese wine” being the first online marketplace offering a selection of almost every available Lebanese wine produced  by more than 45 Lebanese wineries and readily available to be delivered within 24hours across Lebanon. You can surf the website www.209lebanesewine.com and discover how powerful the online search and recommendation engine is to help guide your choices.

For your orders: www.209lebanesewine.com                                                                Discount Code: DrinkLikeNicole for a Discount Value: 15% 

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            209 is the pantone color of wine, just in case you’re wondering! 

The Destinations: 

 1-Bekaa,Khirbet Qanafâr: Château Qanafar

If i’d ask my heart to drive me to a Lebanese winery, Qanafar would be the first destination… My love and attachment to Italy and more precisely Tuscany explains somehow visually why my eyes have been captivated by this village’s charming beauty and my heart’s choice is elucidated by my taste buds’s addiction to the notes and flavors of Qanafar’s excellent, rich and well crafted wines and my love and respect to the Naim’s family !

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I don’t just use my five senses to enjoy a proper wine tasting on this vineyard’s unique site,but to also savor nature’s abundant generosity… The sky seems to stretch and You feel like getting closer to it… By touching the curves of Cabernet Sauvignon vines and smelling the fragrances of Viognier leaves, You get to hear the wind caressing the trees and get an everlasting taste of all those memories made more beautiful with the loveliest hosts: Georges and Colette Naim and their winemaker son Eddy, that transmit their infectious love for wine and shower us with their remarkable hospitality.

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With an aspiration of focusing the production on the highest quality rather than a large quantity, vineyards are fully controlled by the Naim family. The majority of the vines is bush trained and lies above the village at an altitude of about 1200m above sea level.  Some vineyards are at the valley floor which lies at around 900-1000m, but most importantly, all vineyards are within 10 minutes from the winery, meaning grapes quickly arrive at the winery once they are harvested to avoid unwanted fermentations and arrive cool at around 15-18 C.

The varietals in red include: mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.  A small experimental vineyard of Primitivo/Zinfandel was planted to see what kind of results could be obtained in Lebanon.  The varietals in white include: Sauvignon Blanc (majority) and Viognier, and a small vineyard of Riesling.

For more details you can check this article:https://eatlikenicole.com/2016/02/17/when-its-wine-it-varies/

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The Bottles 

1.1)The Paradis Rose de Qanafar is a beautifully balanced and elegant rose wine made solely from their own Tempranillo grapes. It exhibits a floral nose sprinkled with cinnamon and lychee notes, a profile closely matched on the palate.

1.2)Blanc de Qanafar denotes rich aromas and flavors of mainly tropical fruits with a crisp acidity and subtle banana notes. A slight sweetness balances with an enticing minerality. Clear and light yellow appearance

1.3)ChâteauQanafar 2012 is Complex and refined, with opulent yet elegant notes of cassis and red fruits married to velvety oak tannins. Good acidity to balance the fruitiness and a remarkable equilibrium between attack, mid-palate, and finish. Brilliant and dark red appearance.

1.4)Paradis de Qanafar 2013 is Complex and exuberant, with notes of creamy red fruits, cassis, herbal spices, and a slight touch of menthol on the nose. Good acidity and balance between attack, middle, and finish on a palate which confirms the nose. Very slight expression…

1.5)Eva 2014 (Viognier) Enticing aromas of toasted wheat and smoke married to highly floral notes. Zesty and refreshing on the palate, ensuring longevity. Clear, light yellow appearance.Named after the lovely Eva Naim, Georges and Colette’s daughter that recently moved back to Lebanon and joined the family’s prosperous business.

1.6)Anis Arak de Qanafar 

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2-Bhamdoun: Iris Domain

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By simply looking at those pictures, you get a clearer idea of the hidden and beautiful gems Bhamdoun has to offer and understand how humankind can revamp nature’s bounty and turn its grapes into one of the finest local wines… The SALIBI family; Sarmad and Elizabet will Welcome You Joyfully to IRIS DOMAIN!

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At an elevation between 1,000 and 1,200 meters, the vineyard covers just under 5 hectares of clay loam and limestone terraces near the villages of Btalloun and Bhamdoun.The existing grape varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Viognier.

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Iris Domain is named after the rare Iris Sofarana, a unique plant species endemic to Mount Lebanon, and that is highly threatened due to unsustainable grazing, agricultural activities, and construction activities… A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Iris Domain bottle goes towards restoring the endangered Iris Sofarana in its original habitat in Mount Lebanon!

You will only find at Iris domain, Red Wine that is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, aged in French oak barrels for a minimum of a year.In order to better enjoy this wine, decantation prior to its tasting is a must! And i leave your nose discover the greatest berries aromas amongst others and your taste buds enjoy one of the finest local deep, dark and rich wines!

3-Batroun,Nehla: Sept Winery

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I do whine about living in this country, sometimes… But forget about it all when I discover new towns and meet new people that decide to come back to their hometowns to live their passion and achieve their dreams! Maher Harb the winemaker, is one of those people that left their jobs abroad to come back and exploit his ancestral lands to start a biodynamic vineyard.

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Maher’s soil is totally chemical free and is worked according to the lunar calendar to guarantee the yielding of a perfect fruit and produce his bottles of wine!

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I enjoyed an exceptional Syrah, dense and light with tannins and lasting notes; Cuvee du soleil was easier to drink yet distinguished by an elegant roundness and silky tannins. Obeidy and Viognier are the white monocepages.Obeidy is elegant and discrete.The viognier reveals roundness and pure freshness in the mouth.

If you are wondering why this winery has been called: “Sept” meaning number Seven in English, I suggest you pay a visit and hear the full story from Maher, the winemaker !

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4-Batroun, Rachkedde: Aurora winery

Aurora winery is located in the norther village of Rachkidde, North Lebanon.Established in the year 2000 by Dr.Geara and his family, this winery at an altitude of 850 meters,  is surrounded by hills of olive and pine nuts and this may give you some hints about the terroir and the cepages…

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Rose 2016: With a blush pink color, this wine enjoys a soft nose of small red fruits and wild flowers. The mouth feel is dense and buttery ending with a crisp finish.

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Chateau Aurora 2013: Characterized by a danse color with purple reflections.its nose detects black fruit and matured red fruit along with some scents of mocha and caramel likely from ageing oak barrels.

Cabernet Franc 2014:Characterized by a brisk and slightly red color with a soft and fresh nose. The body is discrete and silky, midly fruity with red fruit dominance with hints aged walnut, caramel, and min

Crystal 2016: The color is pale, bright and clear. The nose is intense with typical dry fruit, and a discrete note of white fruit and flowers that bring a variety of aromatic herbs and light spices.

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When I was under legal drinking ages, I couldn’t understand the exact meaning of a famous quote listed on several billboards: “Every bottle tells a story” …                          When I started drinking, the quote started making more sense and in between collecting memories while drinking and learning more about the process of wine making, meeting wine makers and hearing their own stories, I can say that not only every bottle tells a story but every bottle captures the power of a social gathering to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter… Cheers to the great times and cheers to all those who were behind those great times!

Dietitian Nicole Maftoum

#eatlikenicole

#drinklikenicole

 

 

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