I went last night with some Armenian friends in London to Noura Belgravia, a Lebanese restaurant that is part of a small restaurant group with a number of outlets in the British capital as well as in Paris. I love Lebanese food. I like the variety of flavors and how they complement the simplicity of presentation.
Anyway, the food at Noura is extremely well prepared, with fresh and clean ingredients and precise, focused cooking. It’s also red wine-friendly, from the tangy hummus and crisp pita bread to the crunchy falafel and fried breaded balls of minced minty lamb. The grilled lamb, beef and chicken were equally succulent and delicious, especially with a flavorful garlic sauce.
And what red do you cut through all this good food with? Lebanese, of course. We drank none other than the 2000 Chateau Musar Bekaa Valley Hochar. I started drinking this hearty red in the late 1980s when I moved to London, and I always had a soft spot for it. Granted, it can be pretty thin and ropey (as the English would say) at times. But there is something special about a wine produced in such a difficult place. Not only is the climate hot and humid, the area is consistently under some sort of military siege. So, it’s not the easiest place to grow and harvest grapes, let alone make wine.
But I have had some excellent bottles from the 1970s and 1980s, and the 2000 from last night was delicious. If I remember correctly, it's mostly made with Carignan, and the wine has that pungent, cooked plum character. The 2000 is rich and full-bodied, yet soft and succulent, with light Turkish coffee and stewed red fruit on the finish. I though it was worth 90 points (non-blind) with the food. It’s delicious now, but should improve over the next five or six years.
Musar is an evocative wine that takes you immediately to where it is made the minute you drink your first sip. Eating great, flavorful Lebanese food at Noura and drinking hearty red Musar, I felt like I could have been in a restaurant in what was once called the Paris of the Middle East. In fact, I hope to one day get to Beirut, but until then I will make my way to one of the Nouras on occasion.
Jordan Harris — Niagara, Ontario — May 6, 2008 6:14pm ET
Jordan Harris — Niagara, Ontario — May 6, 2008 6:16pm ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — May 7, 2008 12:55am ET
Mark Avery — London, England — May 8, 2008 7:47am ET
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