By Paul Caputo

Obeidy is a white grape variety grown in Lebanon, particularly in the Bekaa Valley. Historically Obeidy was never considered suitable for wine-making, instead being preferred as a table grape and for the production of Arak, Lebanese grape brandy.

In 2010 however the Touma family of Château St Thomas started to experiment with the variety. As one of the largest buyers of Obeidy grapes for their well known brandy, they were well placed to select grapes from interesting vineyards across the Bekaa Valley. They started to vinify some examples in stainless steel and work on how best to treat it in the cellar. At the same time Joe Touma met with the team at Wine Mosaic in France and began a joint project to carry out DNA profiling on the grape.

They began sending samples and cuttings off for testing in Montpellier and Switzerland. The results were interesting. DNA profiling revealed no links with other varieties and it was eventually categorised as a truly Lebanese variety.