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The grape is secondary, it’s the ‘Terroir’ that makes the wine.
In the back of his mind, his drive, what makes him a passionate winemaker, at times unbeknownst even to himself, is actually flowing through his veins and his heart to the subconscious of his mind, as the blood of Christ is symbolic with wine, there is a relentless pursuit of heritage and homage to his forefathers, their land and what has brought them happiness throughout the generations, some really exquisite and natural wines and Arak.
Certainly not on the scale commercial wines, Maher Harb is a man on a mission and his driving force is a passionate one carved also by years of travelling the world, questioning his existence and the circumstances of the final days of our civil war that brought him the worst tragedy a child could ever face.
But to overcome your tragedies in life and turn your energies into the productive focus of your passion, touching at times on poverty but never losing sight of the dream, is to be successful in life, and Maher is certainly on his way to success with a most exceptional and above all extremely natural production of local wines. “We’re not making Cola like wines, you will taste the land in the most natural way possible“ he attests with conviction.
While it may have taken him a generation to identify this passion, the years and savings spent to gain the essential knowledge a winemaker must have from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) Msc where he toured the world and learned from the world’s most successful winemakers and connoisseurs certainly appear to have paid off. “We don’t corrupt our wine to change the taste with industrial yeast or any other additives” says Maher, “We are producing authentic wine” and while there are small doses of naturally produced sulfur they are used to prevent oxidation and not alter the taste which remains endemic to the land the grapes are grown in.
The combination of limestone and clay, coupled with large amounts of sun and abundant water in the land makes the Lebanese Terroir one that commands respect and envy from the world’s wine makers, after all, the region’s wine is mentioned in the Old Testament, in a land whose history can be felt in the 4000 year old Olive Trees up the road from his vineyards in Bechealeh.
The vineyards are actually located in Nehla in the Northern mountains of Lebanon, nestled above the coastal town of Batroun as you drive towards Douma and the protected Cedars of Tannourine. Nehla itself is a tiny area and may one day achieve global recognition only through Maher’s wines which based on the small production numbers should keep it pristine for quite some time.
In 2017, Seven thousand bottles of Maher’s Sept brand, consisting of two red and two white wines (Viognier, Oubeidi, Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabarnet), will enter the world’s wine market. You may not be fortunate enough to try one from this year because they will surely fly and half are destined for exporting. However, if you hurry and reserve them beforehand, you may find some bottles online at www.209lebanesewine.com and at the following venues:
- The Carton Shop in Kalei coffee shop.
- Cantina Sociale in Sassine
- Restaurants: Bar du Port, Osteria, Le petit Gris, Baron, and more to come
- also available at the winery and by orders on our Facebook or Instagram page.
SOBEIRUT: Of the 8 Million bottles of wine produced here, what are some of the other wines in Lebanon that you like ?
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Otherwise stay around Batroun:
MORE INFO ON SEPT WINES: