(2018) With fascinating coincidence I tasted this white wine immediately after tasting an excellent Assyrtiko from Greek producer Akrathos. Fascinating because Château Ksara have described this 100% Merwah wine as Lebanon's answer to Assyrtiko. I've rarely tasted Merwah before, and mostly that was as an important part of the blend in the white wine of Château Musar, which is a very different beast from this. Quite fragrant and bright with apples and lemons, the palate has a distinctly salty character, like sucking on a salted lemon, but there is fat and hints of a greengage plum roundness too - despite only having 12.5% alcohol - in a wine that will appeal to those keen to try something different, though perhaps best drunk with fish or a prawn or lobster pasta perhaps. Watch the video for more information.
(2013) This premium wine, hand-picked from selected vineyards is for the first time dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) along with 30% Carmenère, 10% Petit Verdot and 10% Shiraz, aged in French oak for 12 months. It has a bold, dark crimson colour a inviting, fairly high-toned nose of wild sage-like notes against really intense cassis. There's plenty of oak here, and a certain leafy quality adding to that lifted aromatic. On the palate it is very fine, a dry, inky black fruit, but very polished as are the tannins, the acidity feeling quite natural and the 14.5% alcohol again just a touch prominent along with the spicy, smoky oak. But the components here seem really good and there's a definite impression that this is coming together nicely.
(2013) A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Gris, 40% of which was fermented in oak, then the different components matured in French oak or steel for varying times before blending. Attractive and unusual nose, the passionfruit and guava richness is there, a really exotic lychee-like lift, but then so is smoky, nutty fruit and oak and a sense of cool green herbs. On the palate this is brimming with lively fruit, the sweetly tropical punch of ripeness, that nicely tart streak of green, and a vanilla and creamy hazelnut underpinning. The acidity is good and though the 14.5% abv is really well handled in the mix, a slight trace of heat suggest this would be even more to my taste if it could be notched back just a touch.
(2011) 11.5% ABV, synthetic cork. The big production wine for this estate has a lovely yeasty, herby nose, very delicate with a light lemony flavour. On the palate the faintest sparkle, but a really fresh, with lots of lemony fruit and real vibrant punch. Light and tangy, with those faint herbal flavours adding a lovely complexity. Ernesto served some delicious home-canned tuna with this, and suggested fresh anchovies with olive oil and garlic as possibly the finest match.
(2009) 100% Sangiovese. Half aged in large botti, half in French barriques, 50% of which were new. A little earthiness, and a much deeper, black cherry and tobacco-edged black plum character. A little hint of blueberry and violet. Nice, plump, quite thick chocolaty fruit, though that dry, racy cherry-skin tannin and acid bite is there keeping this fresh and vital.
(2006) Beautifully honeyed lime jelly and quince nose with tangerine notes that flood through onto the palate. Perfect fruit here, and shimmering, sharpening acidity.