notes on wine in jordan

To kick off the holidays, a large group of us ventured out to a private wine tasting at The Wine Maker in Amman. We went through about a dozen of the wines from the Saint George Winery. As the only winery in Jordan to experiment with varietals, its wines are beginning to garner international recognition, and their methods are certified organic and biodynamic. It was…quite an enjoyable afternoon (the copious amounts of excellent cheeses and cured pork products helped). A few tasting notes:

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Sauvignon Gris: aged in steel; less full-bodied than most of their wines; much more acidic, with citrus, florals, very simple and pleasant.

Chardonnay: the opposite. Aged in oak for 14 months; too oaky for my taste. One sip and all I could think of was bourbon…

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Tokaji (aka Tokay): my personal favorite of the whites; lighter and beautifully balanced; only slightly acidic with strong florals; best if it breathes a bit.

Sauvignon Blanc: aged three months in oak, very simple and drinkable with a strong smoky quality and a lingering taste.

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I don’t have a name for the next wine we tasted (anyone? anyone?) – it’s scribbled rather illegibly on my notes, which is a testament to its intrigue: it’s a trick question of a wine; tastes as though it’s aged in oak but it isn’t (something about the soil). Light but slightly nutty. A subtler smokiness, lighter than the other whites, less of an aftertaste.

Shiraz Rose: light, pleasant; I found it more floral than fruity, with a dry finish.

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Shiraz: the byproduct of the Shiraz Rose; a full-bodied, relatively smooth and simple wine. It grew on me after the first glass, so maybe it just needs to breathe. Whiffs of old leather (seriously!)

Shiraz Grenache: my favorite of the reds. A young blend, blended in the barrel; a sweet berry nose then a party in your mouth. Lots of spices – I got allspice myself – medium body.

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Graciano: this is the grape used to temper Tempranillo in Riojas; elegant; simple, mild, lovely with aged French cheese. The winemaker described it as “happy” so I am dubbing this wine Mr. Bingley in the Jane Austen schemata of life.

Cabernet Sauvignon: a young Cabernet (we were drinking 2010 or 2011 I think): a little sweeter, heavier, as you might expect; I got hints of sweet tobacco like aromas. This wine was the favorite of many…

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Pinot Noir: also young; too tannin-y for my own enjoyment; not too much complexity; a dry ish finish. Almost syrupy; not my favorite, though in a few years I’m sure it will be a different story. I have terrible taste buds and blame tannins for everything…

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Photos courtesy of Hanna Caldwell…thank heavens someone remembered her Instagram machine!

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