Saturday, May 23, 2009

Really Old World

I didn't expect to find any wine in Syria, (1) because it's mostly desert and (2) it's a muslim country. However, 10% of the population is Christian (Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Catholic, Maronite...) and therefore does not see alcohol as prohibited. So we bought a couple of bottles of Syrian wine from an Armenian in Aleppo, I thought this will be good for a laugh - but the first one we opened was quite a surprise - a serious wine! We opened it while staying in a bedouin compound next to a ruined castle...quite the setting.
St. Simeon was a 5th century ascetic who tried to escape the world by living on a pillar...apparently it was quite high when he died. This is what's left of it after it's been chipped away by pilgrims for centuries.
The aptly named Cortas, St. Simeon, Cuvee Speciale, NV has a nose of stewed plums. On the palate it is medium bodied, plummy, figgy, rough but surprisingly drinkable. 200 syrian pounds equals $5 so it's a bargain.
After this pleasant surprise, I was quite excited to try this wineries' "premium wine" - the vintage dated Cortas, Nectar, 2006. Alas as I popped the cork it really popped - and started fizzing...this wine hadn't survived the heat!

Anyways, the label doesn't do justice to the citadel of Aleppo, which by the way has never been successfully taken despite many attempts, so here's another view:

OK, back to reality. After getting home and after my stomach settled down, I opened a zin as these are usually easy drinking wines. The Artezin, Zinfandel, 2003 is a blend of regional zins, mostly mendocino county. This one clocks in at 15.5% (as opposed to the Syrian wines that sported a more traditional 12%). Quite pungent with crushed dark berries and a hint of eucalyptus on the nose. Medium weight but with a rough and alcoholic mouthfeel. This is a shame as it has lots of raspberries and blackberries, although a little muted, likely due to the bottle age. Disappointing for the price ($25). Cheers!!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home