London to Lebanon
I was recently lucky enough to be invited to take in the wine and culture of Lebanon as part of a fact finding wine trip organised by one of our fantastic wine suppliers Thorman Hunt.
Charlie Hunt was team leader for our trip to the wonderful Massaya winery where we were guests of brothers Sami and Ramzi Ghosn, the winery founders and probably the most hospitable hosts ever encountered.
Their family had fled in 1975 due to civil war and returned in the early nineties to reclaim their family land. They began with the distillation of the national tipple of ‘Arak’ and progressed into planting specific vines that would succeed best in this favourable micro climate. It is often forgotten that Lebanon is among the oldest sites of wine production in the world, having seen it first hand I can understand why.Our first night was spent in Beirut, sampling some local delicacies and M
assaya Rose, getting to know the other lucky travellers in this hand selected group of buyers, chefs, owners & enthusiasts.
First thing Saturday we were off on the real adventure, visiting the first vineyard in Tanail which neighbours the Syrian border and is the birthplace of ‘Massaya’. Next we headed through the heart of the Beqaa Valley and up to the incredible Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek where an unexpected full tour commenced and a great deal of photos were feverishly snapped.
Next we were whisked off for an authentic family lunch in a remote part of the Beqqa with a family who operate one of the vineyard parcels for Massy. Delicious local delicacies, litres of Arak, coffee, tea and truly humbling generosity & hospitality were shown to us before we headed into the hills of Mt Lebanon (via a few more vineyard plots naturally!).
Altitude increased, temperatures dropped and the ski resort of Mzaar was spotted set in a truly lunar and surreal landscape.
Our final destination was the second Massaya winery of Farqa completed in 2014. At 1700 metres it is one of the highest vineyards in the world growing Chardonnay grapes for the Mass
aya white alongside vinification rooms, cellar ageing programme and a cavernous tasting room.
Our evening was a relaxing feast in the onsite restaurant, sumptuous mezze food created by Ramzi, incredible wine and perfect company.
Sunday was slower paced with the official tasting hosted by Sami, buffet lunch, a live demonstration
of Arak distillation followed by time spent drinking in the views of the valleys below and reflecting on an amazing trip to a very special country spent with some genuinely great people.
Now it is our pleasure to serve some of these magnificent wines at Hood.