Excellent Middle Eastern Wine: Zumot Wines in Jordan

zumot winery jordan

The wines of the Middle East are a relatively untold story that I am happy to spread the word about. I was fortunate enough to have a few winery tours in Lebanon and when I got to Jordan for my week-long tour sponsored by the Jordan Tourism Board, I asked if there were any spots for wine I should hit while I was there. They said Zumot Wines and set it up for me.

As usual, their advice was spot on.

Omar Zumot is a legend in the wine community in the Middle East and rightfully so. His father, who was a wine trader in the region for decades, once told him “this land can make great wine.”

His father was right. And everyone knows how much I like great wine.

In 1996, Omar planted his first grapes at Madaba, southwest of Amman. He has ended up planting 34 different grape varieties over time as an experiment to see which varietals work in the region, since there hasn’t been much wine history here in recent years. He is still harvesting from all those different varieties because, as he says, “we are still sorting out what will work. It might take ten more years, or twenty, or fifty.”

I was given the chance to join in on a previously scheduled wine tasting that Omar was doing for a French NGO raising money to expand the Arab Episcopal School. Before the tasting began, Omar sat with me and discussed his winery, the history of the region and his plans for the future.

zumot winery amman jordan tasting room

the pre-tasting room

Simply put, he is an impressive guy.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera with me, so you will have to subsist on my written words, with no photographic support.

The one photo that I would have inserted here was a picture of the plates of food that were provided to accompany the wines we were tasting. Five varieties of excellent cheese, fresh French bread perfectly baked, salami, ham, and a couple varieties of Prosciutto. Heaven. So here are my tasting notes on some of the wines we tasted. Note, I said some, because we must have tasted almost a dozen.

Pinot Grigo (2009) — One of my favorite whites. Non-acidic and quite mellow. A bit young and immature, but far from overpowering.

Fiano (2009) – This is a southern Italian grape that I don’t believe I have tried before. This was the first wine Omar had made from this grape in seven years, as it is difficult to deal with. Best thing about this wine was Omar’s comment: “A subtle wine. If you want a wine to drink at 11 a.m., this is the one.”

Shiraz (2009) – as Omar poured this he said, “a bit young and tannic” and he was right. But here the tannins showed the fruit that is going to burst forth in a few years from this currently tight wine. Full of blackberry flavor. This is a wine that I will love in four to five years when it mellows a bit, some of the tannins drop out, and it opens up.

San Genovese (unknown year… I was drinking a bit now) — Deep and full flavors of chocolate, cassis and blackberry. If this was sold with an Italian label on it in the United States, it would go for $100 a bottle or so. It was visionary.

Cabernet Sauvignon (ummmm) — If you would tell someone this was a $60 Cab from Napa Valley, they would never know the difference. Personally, I didn’t think it was as good as the San Genovese, but then again, I don’t think I’ve had a dozen wines as good as that one.

Pinot Noir (somewhere lost in time) — This wine was the first ever gold metal winner for a Jordanian wine, this metal being won at a competition in Germany. It was extremely well balanced. As Omar handed it to me, he said smiling “try it with the goat cheese.” Not surprisingly, he was right again. Although there was very little acidic taste to the wine to start with, the goat cheese erased even that small amount and left an even more delicate wine on my tongue.

Look, I am no wine expert. My palate is not that developed and I am hindered in a fairly significant way in that my sense of smell is quite poor. That being said, I know what I like and I have tasted a fair bit of wine in my life so far. So take this for what it is worth.

You need to fine some of Omar Zumot’s wines, if you can. These are well worth your tasting efforts.

They will be tasted again by me, as soon as I have the chance.

Another interview with Omar Zumot.

Right there in Amman, my friend Abbi took some amazing sunset shots in Amman. Really shows another side to this city. Keith didn’t manage to make the winery, but I did get a little jealous reading about his luxury hotel stay in Amman.

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I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all. Read more by Michael Hodson and connect on Google Plus.

13 Responses to “Excellent Middle Eastern Wine: Zumot Wines in Jordan” Subscribe

  1. The Travel Chica September 28, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    You bring up the wonderful cheese and bread and no pictures!! That’s just cruel.
    The Travel Chica recently posted..My Possessions: What I Chose to Keep

  2. dtravelsround September 28, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Now I want wine for breakfast. But seriously, that winery looks lovely. And those wines …
    dtravelsround recently posted..Speaking for the Elephants … in memory of Mae Sai Roong

  3. Andrea September 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Wow – 34 different varieties!?! He must be a patient man…Great round-up – I’m excited that the Pinot Noir won an award
    Andrea recently posted..Remembering the Victims of Fascism and Communism in Budapest

  4. Nomadic Samuel September 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    Wine for breakie? Hey, why not? That’s a cool looking winery.
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..South American Smiles | Smiles of South America | Photo Essay | Part 1

  5. Lauren September 29, 2011 at 1:57 am #

    “One of my favorite whites. Non-acidic and quite mellow. A bit young and immature, but far from overpowering.”

    That sounds like a description of me.

    LOL LOL LOL.
    Lauren recently posted..A Thousand Golden Domes: Exploring The Churches of Kiev

  6. Stephen September 29, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Interesting. I’ve heard of Lebanese wines, but not from Jordan. Good to hear they were so tasty.
    Stephen recently posted..Photo from the Road: Scenic Connecticut

  7. Erica September 29, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    A bottle of wine would be so awesome right now – perfect even. Forget that it isn’t even 11am yet.
    Erica recently posted..Abra Los Ojos en Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua

  8. Casey October 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Well if I ever make it to Jordan, Zumot wines will be on my list! Sounds wonderful, I never would have though as Jordan being a place to find great wine.
    Casey recently posted..Day 35: Hsinchu: The Windy City

  9. Emily @ Maiden Voyage October 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    I had no idea that there were wineries in Jordan! Or the Middle East, for that matter. How cool.
    Emily @ Maiden Voyage recently posted..My Harbor Cruise in Vancouver, British Columbia

  10. California traveler January 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Interesting! The winery tours are some of my favorite day tours in California … never would have thought of them being in Jordan!
    California traveler recently posted..Six reasons not to miss the Galapagos!

  11. Jessica Festa April 28, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Just went here last night with the tourism board. What a treat! I especially loved their reds. Your post now makes me think I need to head over to Lebanon! :)
    Jessica Festa recently posted..Il Mulino New York: Transporting Guests From Atlantic City To Authentic Italy

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