When Lebanese Wine Meets Beijing Food

Wardy Private Selection vintage 2004-2009 and Obeideh (credit: Catherine Lee)

Our round tasting table seemed a bit crowded with 18 guests sitting shoulder-to-shoulder and yet it was cozy for this semi-intense tasting dinner - a lot of unfamiliar Beijing dishes and a line up of complex vintages of Lebanese wine. Our guests told us they were intrigued and curious because they had no idea that Lebanon produces wine! 
Dinner was kicked off with a White wine, which is made of 100% Obeideh, a native Lebanese grape. It offers a special aromas and flavors you won't find in other conventional white wine such Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Obeideh is often used for blend by other vineyards. But Diana Salame Khalil who is Wardy's winemaker and claimed to be Bekaa’s first female-winemaker was brave enough to made it solo, pure Obeideh. Only 3000 bottles are produced a year. Everyone was surprised and loved it.
When it comes to Red, Wardy has completely distinguishes itself from the other vineyards of the Bekka Valley. Wardy's grapes are cultivated on the iron-laden lands of the Anti-Lebanon Mountain bordering Syria at an altitude of 1100 meters. As the owner of Wardy Aziz Wardy puts it, "Nothing had ever been planted there." 
Ironically, the land offers an ideal terroir for abundantly mineral reds and thus concentrating all the energy on the fruit. The result is a seductive, velvety Syrah. With which they blend with Bordeaux grapes Cab and Merlot to produce the most prestigious vintages for Private Selection, with an annual production of only 11000-13000 bottles. 
Each vintage was decanted for at least 2 hours prior to the tasting
Outstanding Vintages and Tasting Notes:

Wardy Private Selection 2004 (Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon)
Dark berry fruit wrapped in layers of toasty oak. They Syrah adds complexity with a touch of spice from the beginning to finish. Reminded us of Bordeaux but not quite compared to 2005.

Wardy Private Selection 2006 (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot)
Beautiful, attractive floral aromas. Robust with the blend of Merlot, which well balanced the wine and tannins. Silky and structured with a splash of vanilla and spice. A lot of aging potential.

Wardy Private Selection 2009 (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot)
With a little vanilla creaminess and a subtle hint of tobacco, licorice, pepper and leather, this vintage is rich in texture and flavor. It is lovely balanced and concentrated. It manifests itself as it explodes in your mouth with the first sip. It'd be interesting to see how it will transform in the next few years. 
As the night boozily progressed, we indulged in the FUN of tasting and discovering the same wine of different vintage. Our guests have learned the common features and distinctive personalities each vintage carries. They discovered how each vintage evolves in the bottle and gets more complex and nuanced as they age. 
Author: Cass Lam
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