Obaideh wine grape

Also spelt Obeïdeh, Obeidi and Obeidy, this white variety is native to Lebanon and found nowhere else.  It has similarities to Chardonnay and was once believed to be an ancestor of it, or an ancestral form, and that Chardonnay had been brought back to Europe from the Levant by returning Crusaders.
But when in 1999 DNA analysis revealed that Chardonnay is one of many children of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc (along with Gamay, Melon and a host of other French varieties), that theory was turned on its head.  If Obaideh really was Chardonnay, it must have travelled from France to Lebanon.  That’s the theory espoused by the bible of such matters, Robinson, Harding and Vouillamoz’s monumental Wine Grapes, with the reservation that the authors could not be certain until Obaideh’s DNA had been tested.
Wine Grapes was published in 2012, and since then that DNA analysis has been done.  Joe-Assaad Touma of Lebanese producer Château St-Thomas commisioned José Vouillamoz to do it, and José reported that Obaideh definitely isn’t Chardonnay or a descendant of it.  Indeed, it has a unique DNA profile that doesn’t match any officially registered variety, or any other obscure non-registered variety in his extensive archive.
Like Chardonnay, its wine tends to be full-bodied with fine but subtle aromas.  It ripens very late, which is a great advantage in Lebanon’s hot dry climate.  Other white varieties have to be picked in August to preserve acidity and keep alcohol levels down, but Obaideh can be allowed to hang on the vine into late September or early October, accumulating more complex flavours as it slowly ripens.

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