Wines of Lebanon

  • Tuesday 14 December 2010

Lebanon may have a rich winemaking heritage but mention its name and Château Musar will no doubt be the first and probably only winery people will have heard of

Lebanon may have a rich winemaking heritage but mention its name and Château Musar will no doubt be the first and probably only winery people will have heard of. Serge Hochar of Château Musar did indeed put the country on the wine map, but others have since followed his lead.

Now, for the first time, Wines of Lebanon has put together a generic tasting, in London, to reflect the country's changing wine scene. Ten years ago, only a handful of wineries existed in Lebanon: today around 20 are making high quality wines and exporting them.

Fleur de Ka, Bekaa Valley 2006 (14.5%)
Trained as a winemaker in Burgundy in the 1960s, Akram Kassatly had always wanted to make wine in his own country. But 15 years of civil war meant he had to wait until 2005 before he was able to accomplish his dream. A blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and a dash of Syrah, this cuvée exhibits spicy notes with a sweet-and-sour cherry and coffee edge. The palate is balanced and shows nice development with more spicy and red cherry characters coming through. Long finish.
price on demand: Alliance Wine, Ayrshire (01505 506 060)

Chateau St. Thomas, Bekaa Valley 2006
This family has been in the alcohol industry producing the local drink Arak since 1888 and it's only after the war, in 1990, they decided to make wine and export. Château St Thomas is now highly regarded as producing good quality wine. The blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah is full of spicy and red cherry aromas. The palate is complex and shows nice development.
price on demand: Bekaa Wine UK, London NW10 (020 8969 4777)

Coteaux du Liban, Blanc du Clos, Zhale-Bekaa 2009
Located 1100 metres above sea-level, this Chardonnay and Viognier blend is crisp and fresh, with lovely peachy and crunchy apple characters. The palate is vibrant and zesty.
price on demand: Bekaa Wine UK, London NW10 (020 8969 4777)

Chateau Ksara, Red, Lebanon 2006 (13.5%)
Château Ksara was created in 1857 and is now the biggest winery in Lebanon. This wine has lovely fruit development with spicy aromas and a combination of red cherry and black fruit. Robust, with firm tannins on the palate, it's complex with a long length.
price on demand: Hallgarten Wines, Beds (01582 722538)

Domaine des Tourelles, Red, Lebanon 2007
A blend of Syrah and Cabernet, this wine has powerful bright black and red fruit aromas with a spicy edge. The palate is soft, with delicious sweet red cherry characters and nice silky tannins.
price on demand: Lebanese Fine Wines (0800 083 2651)

Chateau Musar, Red, Lebanon 2003 (14%)
Serge Hochar is responsible for putting Lebanon wine on the map, though Château Musar may not be to everyone's taste. The nose displays some oxidative notes, it's nutty and very developed with lots of spicy fruit and cedar oak. The palate is soft and generous with developed red and black cherry characters.
price on demand: Bordeaux Wine Investments, Kent (01732 779343), Bordeaux Index, London EC1 (020 7253 2110), Divine Fine Wines, Solihull (0121 436 7558), James Nicholson, Co Down (028 4483 0091), R&B Wines (01205 871172), Robersons, London W14 (020 7371 2121)

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