Welcome to Lebanon, where summer lasts well into October, and even November sometimes. While this is grave news for this Autumn time lover over here, my only consolation is Lebanese wineries offer more than a few delicious rosés to make this long hell bearable. And quite recently, a new rosé has been added to the list of blush Lebanese wines to be enjoyed in Summer 2017: Aurora Winery’s Rosé 2016.
So last month, I made my way up through the mountain of Batroun in North Lebanon, to the village of Rachkedde where Aurora Winery is happily situated, and where they threw their very first Rosé Minifest to celebrate the launch of the newest wine. The cute and quaint gathering was held in a small pine forest that falls right next to their humble winery.
At that event, I happened to meet Andréa Geara, who’s the daughter of the Geara family who is behind Aurora and who happily answered a couple of my questions about her family’s business and latest product.
So, Andréa, when did Aurora’s journey officially start?
We started our own vineyards back in 2004, but it wasn’t before 2006 that we made our first vintage.
I know your family was growing grapevines for years, but how and why did the Gearas get into winemaking?
As a family, we always grew vines to produces arak, vinegar, and alcohol for our own consumption. But my father has always been passionate about wine, having lived in the Loire Valley in the 80s and in the States during the 90s; this left him inspired by both French and Californian wines. So he began learning from books and started this “weekend hobby” of producing a couple thousand bottles with friends and family. But very slowly, this number started growing, as our friends were telling their friends, growing the circle of people who demanded our wines.
Aside from the newest addition, you produce three wines exclusively, two reds and a white. Which is your personal favorite?
I’d say the Cab Franc – our “Cheval de Bataille”. It’s produced solely from the Cabernet Franc grape, which has fully expressed itself in our terroir and our wines and is rarely seen as a single variety wine.
And what is your favorite wine year?
Next year! Our wines keep getting better as the vines grow older.
With more than 30 Lebanese wine brands in our small home country, how does this affect Aurora winery’s position?
Having many wineries in our country actually, adds to our credibility, creates awareness about the Lebanese wine culture, and so increases the potential of Lebanese wines. So the way we see it, the more Lebanese wineries, the better! The only unhealthy competition for us is the increasing number of foreign wines imported in this small country that is already oversaturated with wine. With lack of control on foreign wine prices, federal tax exemption, and absence of licensing system on imports, these are all factors that hinder our local market strategy.
11 years after your first vintage, why have you decided to produce your very first rosé?
Lebanon’s is a Mediterranean country. We enjoy 8 months of sunshine, every year. So why wouldn’t we add such a fun wine to be enjoyed during these beautiful sunny afternoons?
There’s something very whimsical about rosé wine. The color. The Aromas. The social gatherings that come with it. It’s a wine that calls for being outdoors. So as we have such wonderful weather during most of the year, why not offer our clients this refreshing wine, be it apéro on a terrace, a day at the beach, or any fun and relaxing summer afternoon.
How would you describe the new Rosé 2016?
Our rosé is made with 100% Cabernet Franc grapes – not a very common grape used in your usual Rose. The color is a pale blush, with a soft nose of small red fruits and wild flowers. The mouthfeel is dense and buttery, ending with a crisp finish. I would match it with many dishes, especially cured meats and raw fish.
Where can I find the Rosé 2016, and any of your wines?
You’ll find our selection mainly in restaurants, hotels, and wine cellars. We enjoy selecting places with unique characters and modern menus that suit our wines. Here’s the list: Vintage Wine Cellar, Enoteca, Wine Teller 209 Lebanese Wine (online), Remomero (online), Midtown Market, Maison Chal, Life Spirits Boutique, Le Baron, Sushi Bar, Cantina Sociale, La Petite Maison, Punta del Este, Cocteau, Gathering, Gilt, L’Hotel de Mon Pére, Villa Paradiso, and East Village.
So there you have it an inside look at the most recent addition to the list of Lebanese wines you need to try this summer.
See you soon with another glass of red!