Discovering UMAMI, The Fifth Taste...
We went to Kherbet Qanafar to discover this new name in the Lebanese wine world and we were so enchanted to meet the owner, oenologist and winemaker Hiba Salloum…
Hiba, is among the 3 remarkable Lebanese women oenologist & winemakers.
Her passion, dedication and professional approach to winemaking takes the traditional care to the grape to a higher, innovative and distinctive level. With an uninterrupted attention to the soil, to the climate and to the grapes quality and ripening she allows the time, effort and conditions to produce her desired complex and balanced quality wine.
Although she was not predestined to work in this domain, nor wanted to become a winemaker, she was caught up by the passion while attending a wine tasting course where she discovered the world of great wines.
Then her amazing journey started… She studied winemaking, and graduated in Bordeaux – France, among leaders of winemaking.
When back in Lebanon her first experience was as a winemaker at Domaine Wardy, where she remained for 4 vintages. Then she took another challenge at Château Florentine, where she naturally produced, award-winning wines with distinctive character.
She was/is in constant ambitious research, hungry to meet winegrowers, discover different methods of harvesting and winemaking and vineyards of the new world.
And so, after around 13 years immersed in this passionate world, collecting international awards, she decided to have her personally owned signature and created in 2016 UMAMI wine, her dream of a wine with a distinctive personality becoming reality. This was not the end, it is the beginning of her continuous ambition to look for better and greater achievements of the holy grail and to offer wine lovers a unique tasting experience.
UMAMI wine is taking its name from Japanese(うま味) where Umami was identified as a pleasant savory taste, the separate fifth taste, different than the other primary tastes: sweet, sour, salt, and bitter. This taste is due to the synergistic flavor effect of the Glutamic acid and some of the amino acids present in food and contributes to the satisfaction and the satiety sensation.
This above, is the story that we were about to discover when we arrived to Qanafar village where Hiba was waiting for us at her UMAMI club. A club that she created, prior to producing her own wine, with the aim of sharing her passion for wines, and was intended to offer oenological events and tasting courses.
We entered this typical Lebanese village charming stone house, nicely decorated into a wine cellar, where the scene was all set for a professional wine tasting.
Wine glasses & spittoon, cheese platter, tasting notes cards and Umami brochures all prepared for our wine discovery.
Our group was pleasantly surprised to uncover the scenery, and were instantly ready to immerse in the Umami journey.
Hiba started telling her story, which you know by now, and then, in preparation of tasting her white wine, passed on to us a small flask to smell and guess the aroma contained. Then another flask went around. We were expected to recognize these 2 aromas when smelling and tasting the Umami white 2017 which is a single varietal Obeidy (an emblematic indigenous Lebanese grape variety). And so we did and it was a good exercise for all, discovering a beautiful and attractive white wine. Passion fruit aromas and citrus notes with a very well-balanced acidity.
Hiba explained that the Obeidy’s winemaking approach is challenging to get the most flavor of the grapes and stabilize the taste of this delicate wine. Conservation and temperature control are key to preserving the aromas of this exquisite wine that does not age and should be drunk within a year.
We were then handed the flask to smell and prepare for the Umami Red wine 2016 tasting. This wine, a blend of Cabernet Franc & Merlot 50/50, with no synthetic additives, aged for 8 months in oak barrels, features aromas and flavors of black cherry, light spices & chocolate with an slight animal hint. The tannins are still young but the wine is promising to age well and unveil all its beauty in 4 to 5 years.
Hiba also announced that another variant of this vintage is still aging in oak (for 18 months) and will be uncovered soon.
Umami is at its first vintage but presages of many great ones to come.
Our tasting came to its end.
The whole group was enchanted to have met this charming professional lady oenologist and discovered her talent wines, and we made sure not to leave empty handed.
Thank you Hiba for your hospitality and for this fascinating tasting course, and keep on producing delightful wines for the pleasure of all wine lovers.