This collection of wines evolved into an adventure of unexpected proportions. Originally, I chose the Middle East theme in order to showcase Israeli wines for Passover, and it was primarily for context that I set out to accompany them with wines from the surrounding region as well. As my research continued, however, I grew deeply fascinated by the wines being produced by Israel’s neighbors. Taken as a whole, this part of the world is both densely historic and currently contentious. It also produces some of the most compelling wines on the planet.
Volume XXIII includes wines from Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey, and all of the selections but one were new to me when they were submitted for consideration. The sole exception happens to be the stuff of legend, coming from Lebanon’s storied Chateau Musar. Musar has long been the reference point for Middle Eastern winemaking and has recently been even more prominent in the wine news given the unfortunate passing of owner and winemaker Serge Hochar at the end of 2014. It is with great pride that I introduce his wine to you.
The stunning painting by Ray Ferrer that you see here, Oasis, concludes our collaboration. I’ve been constantly impressed by Ray and his work, and this piece, created once again by his unprecedented use of spray paint on canvas, effortlessly captures the essence of the wines in this collection. I also find it to be, quite simply beautiful.
Given the unceasing strife in the region that these wines have come from, it’s important to mention that this edition is certainly not intended to be politically charged in any way. Ultimately, the inspiration for this volume came from Serge Hochar himself. In his New York Times obituary from January, Hochar was quoted as having once said, “Wine is above politics. Wine is tolerance.”
L’Chaim! (To life!)
Aaron Epstein, Curator