Virtuoso Life - September/October 2017 - 180
with a bright, unoaked 2016 pinot grigio.
It's a fine vintage, one that you'd toast with
anywhere in the world. But in Jordan, where
97 percent of the population is Muslim,
the wine tastes particularly remarkable.
Although many Muslims don't drink, most
Jordanians don't care if you do - in contrast
to those in neighboring countries. "In Jordan," says Firas Haddad at the Jordan River
Winery tasting room in Amman, "you're
on an island."
Not much bigger than South Carolina,
Jordan is crammed with more tourist
attractions than the eastern U.S., from
pristine Roman ruins and biblical sites to
sweeping desert sandstone formations and
the 2,300-year-old city of Petra. The latter
alone puts the country atop many travelers'
wish lists. But marooned in a rowdy neighborhood - Syria and Iraq on its northern
and eastern borders; sealed off from the
V I RT U O S O L I F E
Petra's Treasury: The facade
dwarfs the hall inside, which is
actually a royal tomb.
Mediterranean by Israel and the West Bank; Saudi Arabia looming to
the south - it's now often passed over due to misperceived risk. "The
region is bottomed out," Haddad says. Yet Jordan remains a stronghold of peace and stability.
I've come to explore the country's desert bounty. But I'm just as
determined to figure out why, in a region of unrest, The Hashemite
Kingdom of Jordan has remained secure and sympathetic to the West.
"Jordan has treasures you have never imagined," Haddad says.
I believe it. I just didn't expect the first to be a citrusy white wine
rivaling Italy's finest.