2011 Cabernet Sauvignon - Petite Sirah: It is the end of my second week of work in the West Bank and a good time to open one of the bottle's of wine produced and bottled by the Taybeh Brewing Company to accompany a local lamb dish (fukhara). The wine's aroma is a wonderful mix of dark berries, cedar, spices, eucalyptus and vanilla and the flavour is reminiscent of berries, jam and a hint of bitter chocolate. I found it to have good balance and a smooth finish due to the slight acidity and medium level of tannins. The wine would pair well with chicken as well as red meats. After tasting the wine I called Nadim Khoury to ask if he used oak barrels given my tasting notes implied some oak ageing but I had not seen any barrels at the new winery under construction at the hotel (expected to be open by Oktoberfest 2013). Nadim explained that he used oak chips in the vinification process but is importing oak barrels for future use. The wine is a blend of 80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% petite sirah.
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon: I tried the 100% cabernet sauvignon at a dinner with friends in Ramallah. This wine is a deeper more opaque ruby colour and has rich aromas and flavours of bittersweet chocolate, leather, spices, black licorice and dark berries. The tannins are more apparent than the blend described above and the wine would pair well with the lamb dishes popular in the region.
A vineyard as both an economic and political strategy: At present Nadim purchases grapes from local Palestinian producers. Grapes are the second largest agricultural crop produced in the West Bank (olives being the number one crop). It is important to note that many Israeli wineries are either located in the occupied West Bank or use grapes grown by settlers in the West Bank. The Taybeh Brewing Company is preparing land behind the brewery (terracing the hill as you can see in the photo above) in order to plant its first vines. Not only will the vineyard contribute to new white wine production but the vines will be planted to strategically contain an Israeli settlement (one of the three settlements close to Taybeh) that is situated on the hill to the west of the of the brewery.
Settlements in Occupied Territory: Given that Israel facilitates the transfer of people into the occupied West Bank in order to change the demographic composition of the territory international legal scholars consider the settlements a violation of international law. Israel claims settlements are based on historical territorial rights. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention deals with transfer of people in an occupied territory. The article ends by stating: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." On January 31, 2013 the International Fact Finding Mission, appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on Palestinian rights, found that the settlements violate international law but stated that the International Criminal Court is the appropriate body to adjudicate the issue.