Karam Winery tasting

Location: Jezzine, South Lebanon

Established: 2003

Date: January 20, 2012

Tasted at: Tawlet restaurant in Mar Mikhael, Beirut

Whites

Cloud 9

Grapes: Muscat, Viognier, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc

Alc: 12.8%

2011: Light pear hue with a burst of exotic fruits on the nose. In the mouth there is just the right level of ‘fat’ to give a pleasing texture with good acidity. The finish has a hint of spice riding on the back of the fruit. Many Lebanese cite Cloud 9 as their favorite white and it is good to see consumers casting their nets beyond the usual suspects.

2009: Mid-gold color. Aromatic nose with hints of cut grass courtesy of the Sauvignon Blanc no doubt. It has a great body that has maintained its acidity and a sustained finish. Full-on and expressive.

Reds

Maison

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Petit Verdot

Alc: 12.5%

2010: Karam Winery’s entry level red. Youthful purple hue and an even younger nose, reminiscent of a nouveau style wine. But that is where the similarity ends. In the mouth there is good tannic structure without it being overly complex (its not meant to be). The fruits are ‘warmer’ and the finish pleasantly spicy. A wine that does what it says on the bottle. Fresh and uncomplicated but yet elegant.

St John

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot

Alc: 13.7%

Oak aging: 12 months

2006: Moving through the gears, we come to St John, the Karam Winery’s iconic red and the flagship wine before the introduction of the Corpus Christi. Deep ruby hue. Nose is vibrant, alive with ripe fruits and bell peppers from the Cabernet. In the mouth the tannins have been ‘tamed’ so while there is structure the wine isn’t the slog that many in this category can be. Finish is rich with a hit of ripe blackcurrants.

Corpus Christi

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc

Alc:13.5%

Oak aging: 12 months

2008: Made with a yield of 1kg of rapes per vine (compared to the still low 3kg for the St John), this is Habib Karam’s baby. The nose is complex with leathery and ‘animal’ – Habib talking – aromas with whiffs of stewed black fruit which is possibly down to the inclusion of the 12% Cabernet Franc. In the mouth, one does not struggle to locate all the usual flavors – peppers, chocolate and bags of soft cassis – as the fruit and tannins are well-integrated. The finish is remarkably rich and sustained.

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