On her visit to Lebanon, MW Natasha Hughes, was impressed with what our wine industry had to offer, and even more so by Captain Karam's larger than life personality.

 

"Captain Habib Karam (Captain to his friends) is one of Lebanese wine’s biggest characters (no small accolade in a country where larger-than-life personalities thrive). His Jezzine-based winery, Karam Wines (karamwines.com), also wins my award for most improved, having come along hugely since my first visit there in 2013.

The Captain, a former pilot, is an auto-didact when it comes to wine, taking his inspirations from wines tasted on his travels around the world and conversations with winemakers, rather than anything as prosaic as a winemaking course.

Regardless, his magpie mentality has paid dividends in the form of a range of wines made from unusual varieties. He’s currently enjoying his experiments with touriga nacional, saperavi, albariño and meksesse, although I expect him to have fallen under the thrall of a different range of grapes if I visit in another six years.

Until then, it’s well worth trying his take on the local meksesse grape – the 2017 is brisk and bright, with aromas of honeyed apricots and jasmine tea and a gentle touch of oak spice. The 2015 Touriga Nacional is also promising, with its well-handled, firm, fine-grained tannins and brisk acidity, all supporting a velvety palate of blueberry, paprika, violet and Damson plum. This needs time for the oak to integrate fully, but should age well."

- Natasha Hughes MW 

Article published here: https://app.gourmettravellerwine.com/editions/oct-nov-19/article/lebanon-wine-focus.html