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Lebanon builds momentum

Lebanese producers hailed an “exceptional vintage” for 2011, as they advanced their campaign to develop the UK market in a series of tastings last week.

Summing up trade reactions from a tour which took in Manchester, Bristol and London, Lebanese-based wine writer Michael Karam said: “People are beginning to recognise that Lebanon deserves a place in the wine constellation.”

Although the majority of the flagship wines presented at the tastings remained Cabernet or Syrah-based blends, Karam highlighted interest from the UK trade in some of the newer styles coming through.

Picking out the first Pinot Noir to be released by Bekaa Valley producer Clos St Thomas, Karam said: “It’s had a lot of interest and really opened people’s eyes that Lebanon can produce a Pinot Noir. People are impressed by its freshness.”

Now 18 months into their UK campaign, producers spoke enthusiastically about the prospect of showing their 2011 wines in the near future, a year which Elie Maarmari, export manager for Château Ksara, described as “an exceptional vintage.”

In contrast to the 2010 vintage, which was hit by a freak heatwave, causing vines to shut down, Maarmari summarised 2011 as featuring “a very long maturation period, with cold nights and just the right amount of rain.”

Wines of Lebanon will return to the UK in May for the London International Wine Fair.

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