Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gianaclis Vineyards in Egypt

Sev, our friend from the British School is the person responsible for recruiting us to spend an afternoon learning about Egyptian vino. Carmen, one of the owners of Chateau Gianaclis welcomed our group with open arms to experience the history and flavors of Egyptian wine. The Chateau is situated between Alexandria and Cairo.
To be honest, I was shocked upon seeing a covered (hijab) girl working at a facility that produces alcohol. The winery is tucked away in a predominantly Muslim community. I asked about the issue of safety regarding threats from fundamentalist groups. Our guide admitted to receiving a couple of threats over the phone. I told him we have similar problems with the nutty Christians back in the states. In my opinion the Christian right and Salafist should merge. Both groups have plenty in common: funny take on family values, ignorant, conservative, hate gays, lack tolerance, hate liberals, scheme for ways to not pay taxes. If both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum sported beards and read the Koran they would an instant hit here.      
Who likes vino?
Wouldn't it be cool if there were machine guns on the tower?
I know this looks hopeless when it comes to growing grapes, but these newly planted vines will start bearing fruits in a couple of years. 
The hard, whiskey, etc. 
An easy to read chart explains the process. By the looks of it, the sign had to been designed by a native Arabic speaker as the process starts on the left.
Rats check in but they don't check out. 
More of the hard stuff cooking. 
Way to go wine and spirits team. 
Wine making in Egypt is using some of the most advanced technology. Underneath the soil are sensors that transmit signals to a satellite, which tells the computer to feed the vines. Pretty fancy. 
There are 3 wine seasons in Egypt. The first using Egyptian grapes (brands: Omar Khayyam, Ayam, etc) followed by Lebanese (brand: Chateau de Reves-now aged in oak!), and ending with South African (brand: Cape Bay). 
Keeping the vino cool. 
Random items of the facility.
Jumping over the hoses.
We were told that a new Bordeaux style is resting in these barrels due out the winter of 2012...hopefully before the end of the Mayan calendar. 
The barrels are made of both French and American oak. 
Bottles in bulk.
Chateau Gianaclis was founded in the late 1882 by Nestor Gianaclis, a Greek tobacco merchant looking to resurrect the 5000-year tradition of Egyptian winemaking.     
Tools of the trade during the days when the company was nationalized. More proof that socialism and communism doesn't work when it comes to quality. Heineken International bought out the company in 2002.   
We sampled 3 bottles. I believe the main purpose of the wine tasting room is to educate those in the tourist industry. Our guide emphasized the importance of storing and handling wine, stating that most customers will have an unfavorable opinion of the Egyptian juice if the bottle has been sitting in the storefront window soaking up rays.      
Not on the market yet. We were one of the first groups to try Saray due out shortly. Coming soon are Egyptian wine tasting blogs...there are lots to try so keep an eye out.