Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wine and the Middle East

"Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more."
-Proverbs 31: 6/7

"I'm sure that being sober all these years accounts for my ill humor."-Fran Leebowitz

This post has almost nothing to do with Houston. It is about Israel and Lebanon and wine.

Five months ago, I took my family to Israel. We visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Masada, and Galilee. But the thing that impressed me most was the quality of new Israeli wines.

We went to a party at the Grape Man, a wine bar in Jaffa outside of Tel Aviv. where I tried at least 10 different Israeli wines. These were not your ordinary, overly-sweet Kosher wines. They were modern wines, such as cabernet sauvignons, merlots, and shirazes. They were concentrated, balanced and elegant. Many were indistinguishable from outstanding wines that you would get from California, France, or Australia.

One wine in particular caught my attention -- the 2003 Galil Mountain Yiron. It was a concentrated blend of 60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot. It was a rich and complex wine with strong fruit. At first, I thought it was a Syrah/Grenache blend because of its jammy fruit. The grapes are grown in the Golan Heights in the northeast part of Israel. I brought a few bottles home in my carry-on luggage, which now thanks to Al-Qaeda we can no longer do.

A few months ago at Saffron in Houston, I had a bottle Chateau Kefraya, which is a Lebanese Cabernet. It too can compete with outstanding cabernets from elsewhere. It is grown in southeast Lebanon.

The current fighting makes me think about these wonderful wines. These Four people died a few days ago in a bomb attack in Kefraya. With the large scale exodus from these regions, will even be a 2006 vintage? At a minimum, the new wave of outstanding vinticulture in Israel and Lebanon will surely suffer.

I have a forward-thinking Middle East peace plan: get all the warring factions together and make them all drink these wonderful wines. Then they would stop shooting rockets . . . and go back to making wine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love your recommendation in your final paragraph on wine and war in Lebanon!