Marks & Spencer will stock three Lebanese wines for the first time this May.
The village of Roum seen from the Karam winery in Jezzine, southern Lebanon
The wines – from Chateau Ka, Chateau Ksara and Domaine des Tourelles – will be part of an Eastern Mediterranean promotion run by the retailer, and will include wines from Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia, Israel and Greece.
Ghida Kassatly Boulos, marketing manager at Chateau Ka in the town of Chtaura in the Bekaa Valley, told Decanter.com the process for acceptance by Marks & Spencer started last August and was ‘exhaustive’.
‘They were very picky but that is their job,’ she said, adding that at no stage did the buyers suggest changing the blend or the style of the wine for the UK market.
She paid tribute to Lebanese winemaker Jean Tannoury, who trained at Dijon and who joined the winery in 2007.
Ka is already represented in the UK, with Waitrose stocking its Source de Rouge and Source Blanche range; Kassatly said the new deal with M&S would ‘further grow the image of Lebanon’.
The retailer is taking 450 six-bottle cases of Ka’s entry-level wine Cadet de Ka 2008, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.
Of the other two wineries in the promotion, Chateau Ksara is the oldest and one of the best-known Lebanese producers. Established by Jesuit monks in 1857 it now farms more than 300ha in the Bekaa Valley with a total production of 230,000 cases sold in 40 countries worldwide.
The Ksara wine in the launch will be Clos St Alphonse 2009, a Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend. This is a variation, with a slight increase in Cabernet Franc, on Reserve du Couvent, a wine already listed by the Wine Society.
Domaine des Tourelles also dates back to the 19th century but became moribund during the civil war of the 1970s, re-starting production in 2000.
M&S is taking Domaine des Tourelles Blanc 2011, a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Muscat d’Alexandrie.
The wines will be available from May 2012 in Marks & Spencer stores nationwide.
The inspiration for the launch came from a noticeable trend for Eastern Mediterranean dishes both in retail and restaurants, an M&S spokeswoman said.
Written by Adam Lechmere