A Laud To Lebanon!

Last month I held a Lebanese wine tasting for a client which explored Lebanon’s rich history and how it was inextricably linked to the wines.

There are over 30 grapes in Lebanon and around 50 wineries – although no recent states are available so there could be more!

I chose 10 wines from three iconic wineries to give a snapshot of premium styles. All wineries are available in the UK & US
Chateau Ksara – Lebanon’s oldest winery, it has been creating wine since 1857 thanks to Jesuit priests. They are Lebanon’s biggest producer and offer a fantastic range and some incredible back vintages.
Massaya – Created just after the Civil War by a family determined to reclaim their heritage. With their esteemed French partners from Vieux Telegraphe and Cheval Blanc, they create wine which reflects Lebanese history alongside innovative blends. @i Ixsir – A newish operation (2006) that is already in the top 5 wineries. They create plush, opulent wine from all over – including the highest vineyards up North in Batroun (around 1,400m).

My five faves to give an all round flavour of the Lebanese wine scene.
All wines are available at online UK and USA retailers.

Chateau Ksara Rosé -Lebanon’s most popular Rosé £16 – Almost Campari like in colour, yet super dry, crisp and brimming with juicy cherry fruit and white pepper spice.

Ixsir Grande Reserve White 2022 £25 – a thrilling blend of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Tastes like a baby Condrieu – white peach, jasmine lift and supple from careful oak aging.

Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent Rouge 2019 £15 – blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – reminds one of a super plum filled Bordeaux with a more cedar spice.

Massaya Le Colombier 2020 – £17 – a Cinsault based blend– will make you see this grape in a whole new way. Full of red and dark plum, dried figs and a lovely silky texture.

Chateau Ksara Rouge 2007 – around £45 – Available at Berkmann Wine Cellars
The brambly dark fruit is still super juicy and ripe but there are wonderful umami ,flavours developing alongside the leather backbone. Super impressive for the price.

And here are 5 main points which explain Lebanese wine – thanks to Lebanese wine expert – @michaelkaram.wine

1. Old. This country has been making since 5000BC!

2. Small. Lebanon is the size of Yorkshire/ Wales – it’s a small industry which means they have to focus on quality.

3. France. At the end of WW1, Lebanon became a French protectorate until 1943. Wine produced was for the locals and for 30,000 French soldiers. There is a huge French connection which feeds into the grapes, culture and winemaking traditions of today.

4. Altitude. Lebanon has long, dry and often very hot summers. Luckily, they have two mountain ranges which helps moderate the heat and create elegant wine.

5. Diverse. Socially there are 19 different religious states! The soils are equally as diverse as the grapes. There are over 30 grapes; many reflect the French influence ie Cinsault, Carignan & Cabernet Sauvignon for red and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for white. The whites are now just as exciting – especially those from high altitudes ( over 1,200m minimum) – I couldn’t get over how fresh they could be given the climate!

Click here to watch the video!