Saturday night marked the launch of Palestine’s latest vinter of fine wines. Years in the making Sari Khouri presented to the Bethlehem public four new vintages under the name Philokalia.
His ‘Summer Red’ was the most popular of the evening, with ‘Grapes of wrath’ (the sweet white) a close second [with the name a nod to Israel’s invasion of south Lebanon and the 1993 operation targeting resistance fighters once aligned with the PLO].
The surprise of the evening was Khouri’s Amber (or orange) wine, made from the traditional Palestinian grapes of the area. With a flavour similar to Canadian ice wine or an after dinner liqueur, it gave everyone at the launch something to talk about.
‘The Source’ was the most sophisticated wine of the range, with deeper notes that the other young bottles.
After Bethlehem’s raised eyebrows at local monastery and wine producers Cremisan (which put up less than the desired fight after Israeli construction if its illegal separation wall set to cut the winery off from the local population, effectively annexing it to Israel), the arrival of an alternative and truly local product was something to be celebrated.
The range boasts as organic and phosphate free, and may one day give the Taybeh winery (the only other Palestinian wine that isn’t produced in a church institution) a run for business.