Student trip to Lebanon

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Caro Maurer MW

It started as a vague idea from Hady Kahale, a stage one MW student from Ixir winery, who proposed it to the Union Vinicole du Liban (UVL) and its managing director Mireille Hannaoui – and together they all made it happen.

From 25–29 October 2017 a group of 10 MW students, from all stages and lucky me as the guiding MW, travelled to Lebanon to discover the tradition of 6000 years of winemaking in this beautiful country in the Near East.

To summarise our experience in some numbers: three days, visiting nine wineries, table tastings with wines of 11 more wineries, three fabulous masterclasses, cruising through the wine regions of Batroun, Bekaa Valley and Mount Lebanon – and myriads of regional dishes for lunches and dinners. This trip was just fabulous and unforgettable.

UVL chose a perfect mixt of wineries for us to to visit: from legends like Château Musar to boutique wineries such as Atibaia, newcomers such as Domaine de Baal and family companies such as Château St. Thomas, to the big shots like Château Kefraya and the old establishes houses of Château Ksara and Domaine de Tourelles.

Every day there was a masterclass. The first from Elie Maamari from Ksara and Diana Salamé from Atibaia who explained ‘The challenges of making wine in a hot weather’. The second from archaeologist Pierre Bou Aoun and Joe Touma from St. Thomas who presented an overview of ‘The History of Lebanese wines and ongoing studies on history and on indigenous Lebanese grapes’ – Joe and his sisters made us join the Obeidi (indigenous Lebanese grape) fan club later. And finally Jean Paul Khoury from Château Koury, assisted by Fabrice Guiberteau from Kefraya, gave us an introduction into ‘The diversity of the Lebanese terroirs’. To learn from such experienced and knowledgeable speakers was a privilege and luxury.

Next to the great wines it was the incredible food filling the tables at lunches and dinners (at Ixir, Tourelles, on the terrace of Ksara and finally in the refectory of the Mar Moussa Convent with the wines from Adyar. All of which will long stay on our minds, as will the generous and big-hearted receptions of all our hosts, letting us share their lives, homes, wines and insights.

A trip filled with so many highlights, special memories and fun spontaneous moments (when we entered a Lebanese Karaoke bar late on the second night and gave our best to join in the singing, but triumphed more with belly dancing on the dance floor).

Special thanks go to Hady Kahale and Mireille Hannaoui who were responsible for the perfect organisation. And to rest of the members of UVL. Yes, you succeeded: you made us all ambassadors for Lebanese wines.

Caro Maurer MW

30 October 2017