Wine from the south-Eastern Mediterranean has long had a loyal following. People in the know rave about the quality that comes from the Levant, and Lebanon in particular is highly regarded by those familiar with the region.
We may be 21st century latecomers to this party, but we’re delighted to be offering three wines from Lebanon’s oldest winery, Château Ksara, today managed by Dikran Ghazal. Its origins date back to 1857 when Jesuit monks acquired the property then planted vines and created two kilometres of caves that provided a perfect storage space for bottles. The Jesuits kept the property until 1973 when they sold it to the current owners.
Ksara’s reputation is built on three key elements – tradition, nobility and modernity. The first of these values ensures the winery’s roots remain at the heart of the current business, the second is crucial for the quality of the grapes and the winemaking, and the third ensures that the overall process benefits from up-to-date techniques. Ksara is Lebanon’s biggest producer, boasting an annual output of 2.8 million bottles.
The vineyards are located in the Bekaa Valley at an average altitude of 1,000 metres. Winters in this part of the world are cold with moderate rainfall, while the summers are hot and dry, albeit balanced by cool evenings as a result of the altitude. The stony vineyards sit between two mountain ranges and see average annual rainfall of 600-700 millimetres, mainly in autumn and winter. The dry summers result in fewer diseases and this, combined with the absence of pesticides and herbicides, means the grapes are grown almost organically.
We are happy to offer three wines from the Ksara range. The red is a balance of Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon that delivers a medium to full-bodied wine. It is reminiscent of Northern Rhone and Bordeaux styles, with layered flavours and aromas of fruit and spice with body and freshness. It is ruby-red in colour with a hint of the oak and vanilla in which it is matured.
The white combines Sauvignon Blanc, Obeidy, Muscat and Clairette. This balance yields a wine that is full-bodied, aromatic, fresh and elegant. Lebanese white wine is increasing in popularity, and this one from Ksara is evidence of why that is happening. It’s an easy drinking white that provides an ideal match for vegetables and fish, or for Lebanese style mezze small dishes.
The Gris de Gris is a Grenache Gris (60%) and Carignan blend with an inviting pale salmon pink colour and an aromatic nose of berries, vine flowers, peony and a touch of jasmine. Fresh and light, it is vivid, elegant and harmonious with a mouthwatering finish.
Lebanon has been a major player in winemaking for centuries. This is an opportunity to test why it has stood the test of time and is now attracting a wider audience.