HORECA 2011: Not enough tech; too much techno

Last week’s HORECA expo at BIEL was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues. However, the organizers will have to up their game if they want to develop the event’s wine profile or indeed convince the wineries to come back (Less techno music and more thought to wine culture might help). Lebanese wine is no longer an ethnic curiosity and HORECA should reflect this by giving the wineries the chance to offer exhibition goers a credible wine experience. 

Right, enough moaning. Here are my stand out selections from the fair of wines I had not yet tasted this year.

Best rosé: Coteaux de Botrys, Rosé de l’Aube 2009

Best white: Château St Thomas, Chardonnay 2010

Best fruity red: Karam Winery, Maison 2009

Best medium-bodied: Cave Kouroum, 7 Cepages 2004

Best full-bodied red: Chateau Ka, Fleur de Ka 2005


Château Ka,  Source Rosée 2010

Elegant pale pink hue. Crisp structure with plenty of fruit. $8

Coteaux de Botrys, Rosé de l’Aube 2009

Grenache. Deep pink. A wine for those who like their rosés verging on red. A gutsy spring wine, evoking lunch with roast lamb cutlets and rosemary. $10

Karam Winery, Arc en Ciel 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Deep pink. A thoughtful wine from South Lebanon’s only producer. One for those who like their rosés bold and gutsy with knockout acidity


Château Ka, Source Blanche 2010

Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Majority Muscat. Fantastic acidity. Grassy and citrus in the mouth. Good body full of flavors of nuts and pineapple with a hint of honeyed lemon. Excellent value. $8

Château Ka, Blanc de Blancs 2010

Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Sémillon. Pale, almost ethereal hue. Pineapple nose and a citrus finish. A little too lively for my tastes. $10

Château Oumsiyat, Blanc 2009

Ugni Blanc and Clairette. Lovely savory notes on the nose. Crisp and citrus in the mouth. Lovely, mildly spicy finish. One to look out for $7.50

Château St Thomas, Chardonnay 2010

In wood for 7-8 months. No Chardonnay ennui here.  From the moment the apples assault the nose this is a thundering classy wine in which the usual kidnap attempt by the wood on the fruit has been foiled. Crisp, intense and refined.

Coteaux de Botrys, Prince Blanc 2010

Rolle, Marsanne and Chardonnay. Bottled just ten days earlier. Shy nose but crisp and fruity in the mouth. Long-fingered elegance with wonderful layers of citrus that does not overwhelm. $12

Domaine des Tourelles, Blanc 2010

Viognier and Muscat. Majority Viognier. Nose of citrus, especially grapefruit. Balanced full-on fruit with a sustained finish. Another winner from this rejuvenated winery.

Karam Winery, Cloud 9 2010

Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Sémillon. Ever improving, sweet to medium wine with a nose of exotic fruits. Crisp and fresh with good structure.


Cave Kouroum, Petit Noir 2009

Majority Cinsault with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. Perfumed nose. Typically fruity in the mouth with a lovely rim of chocolate. Excellent wine. But can’t we find it anywhere? Oddly, the man at the stand didn’t have the prices for either this wine or the 7 Cepages.

Cave Kouroum, 7 Cepages 2004

Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir. Majority Syrah and Cinsault, Medium-bodied. This is one of my all time favorite wines (when I can get my hands on it). Lots of licorice and other spices carrying a blanket of fruits and mild bell peppers (courtesy of the Cabernet). A legacy of that great blender Yves Morard.

Château Ka, Fleur de Ka 2006

Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Two years in wood. Deep ruby hue. Cherries and mint on the nose. Integrated tannins with powerful blackcurrant flavors underpinned with bell peppers from the Cabernet. Should age well. $25

Château Ka, Fleur de Ka 2005

Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. 18 months in wood. More pepper in the mouth than the 2006. Sublime.

Château Barka, Clos St Benoit 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. New wine from Deir al Ahmar in the Bekaa. Production is 25,000 bottles at the moment. This is the easy drinking wine. No wood. Lively fruits on the nose. Dry and peppery in the mouth. Unusual, but I liked it and looking forward to an extended taste. $6

Château Barka, Chateau 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Twelve months in wood.  Structured but still a toddler and dare I say it a tad expensive. $35

Château Kefraya, Comte de M 2006

Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  Dark garnet. Full-bodied Wonderful peppery nose. Good use of the wood has ensured the tannins have integrated well. In the mouth, the wine is powerful but restrained with notes of black fruits and cloves. Finish is velvet. But then again this is a wine that reeks of class. Will get better too! $25 (approx.)

Château Oumsiyat, Rouge 2009

Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Heavily perfumed with floral and peppery notes. Good structure. Good value. $7.50

Château Oumsiyat, Chateau 2007

Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Light and fruity. Flavors of cured meats, berry fruits with a licorice finish. Fantastic but I suspect a little pricey. $14

Coteaux de Botrys, Cuvee de L’Ange 2009

Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache. Light to medium bodied. Easy-ish drinking wine. No wood used in the making of this wine…Amen! Peppers and cherries in the mouth. If this were an invitation the dress code would be smart/casual. $13

Coteaux de Botrys, Chateau – Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Full bodied. Strong Cabernet nose of bell pepper. Fruitier in the mouth but not overpowering and tempered by a layer of spice. Silky finish $18

Coteaux de Botrys, Chateau – Syrah 2009

Full-bodied Menthol on the nose. Syrah fans will enjoy the full-on flavors of licorice and berry fruits. $18

Karam Winery, Maison 2009

Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignan and Petit Verdot. Habib Karam is known for bigger, more muscular reds but he has shown that he can make gentle, fruitier wines for everyday drinking. I must confess I was not won over when I first tasted this a year ago. Twelve months on, the fruits have softened and the finish has become pleasingly peppery. Versatile, as works well chilled. $6


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