Match of the week
Wild boar with cherry sauce and Karam Corpus Christi
It’s almost impossible to pick out one pairing from last week’s trip to the Lebanon but if I’m forced to it has to be a dish of wild boar with cherry sauce I ate with Habib Karam the owner of Karam winery (and - extraordinarily - the airline pilot who flew us to Beirut)
Habib is as passionate about his food as he is about his wine (and I imagine every other pursuit he engages in) and had devised an amazing meal which we were supposed to have for lunch and ended up eating about 6pm due to various distractions along the way. Lebanese wine visits tend to drift . . .
The boar, which I could imagine him killing with his bare hands, turned out not to have been dispatched by him but had been marinated for two days in Syrah and cloves then brushed with brown sugar and honey, slow roasted and served with a dark, delicious, sour cherry sauce and a selection of boiled vegetables including baby aubergines. It went extraordinarily well with his 2007 Corpus Christi, a dark, plummy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot. It was still a little young to drink but the gamey meat and sharp cherries mellowed its tannins and made for a quite stunning match.
Habib makes his wine from high altitude vineyards just outside Jezzine which is to the south of the Bekaa valley so they all had a fresh acidity that made them particularly good partners for food. Other good pairings from the dinner were his Cloud Nine 2009, a crisp blend of Semillon, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat with tabbouleh and Arc-en-Ciel, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah-based ros with lobster freekeh - a fabulous paella type dish made with lobster (flown in from Ghana), tomatoes and a touch of chilli. I found the wine a touch bubblegummy but it was terrific with the food.
Of all the winemakers I met last week he was the most focussed on food pairings. “There’s no point in trying to make wine unless it ends up on a table of food” he said, simply.
At the moment Habib doesn’t have a distributor in the UK but if you’re interested in his wines I’m sure he’d find a way of getting them to you. Flying them himself, if need be.
I visited the Lebanon as a guest of Wines of Lebanon.
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