(2020) From vines that are over 70 years old, farmed organically at altitude in the Bekaa Valley, Domaine de Tourelles adopt a very much 'hands off' approach with this wine, fermenting with indigenous yeasts in their traditional concrete vats, the wine not seeing any oak. That makes for a deep crimson purple wine with an explosively aromatic nose of crushed black berries, truffle and pepper, the sleek vinous quality also suggesting concentration. In the mouth that holds true: the intensity matched by the ripe cherry, plum and blackberry depth of sweet fruit, tannins like silk and the acid balancing in a very natural and gastronomic way. A lovely wine this, available in many independents - use our wine-searcher link. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) Musar famously releases it's wines only when they think they are ready to drink, typically seven years after vintage. So this is the latest release at time of review, a blend of Cinsault, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon from very old vines grown at over 1,000 metres altitude in the Bekaa Valley. It seems to me to be an outstanding Musar, filled with gently lifted aromatics of kirsch and blackcurrant, all framed by a graphite and cedar notes of serious, savoury and Bordeaux-like character. In the mouth the sweet, ripe fruit is enveloping, but the wine has such fabulous concentration and supple, firm structure at its core, all polished tannins and gastronomic acid-balance, the pure, sweet fruit persisting to the elegant, very long finish. A wonderfully impressive young Musar this, irresistable now, but capable of substantial cellaring too, Musar tending to transition from something like Bordeaux, to something closer to Burgundy, over decades.
(2020) A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah, 15% Carignan and 5% Cinsault, this is fermented with native yeasts and made in concrete vats, unflitered and unfined to give what Tourelles describe as "A true expression of the Bekaa Valley." There's an honest, rustic authenicity about it, plum and cherry fruit, damp earth, a suggestion of briar wood and herbs. In the mouth the sweet ripeness of the fruit is striking, a big and bountiful plateful of black cherries and summer berries, but those firm tannins, good juicy acids and a bit of serious, sinewy structure give it some food-friendly heft and probably fair longevity too. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas. Quite widely available.
(2019) A still wine, made from 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon and 20% Chardonnay grown at altitude in the Bekaa Valley. It has a really pretty nose, much more on the summer flowers and exotic fruit spectrum than anything more grassy given the majority Sauvignon in the blend, delicate spice and pot-pourri notes add interest. In the mouth some oak-ageing is evident (presumably the Chardonnay proportion) adding toast and a butteriness, but a big thrust of pithy lemon and grapefruit pushes through crisply. Highly quaffable, highly enjoyable.
(2019) What a lovely Bordeaux lookalike this is, blending 60% old vines Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot, and aged in new French oak. There's a rich, primary black berry fruit density on the nose, but spice and hints of game and cedar too, a lovely hint of tertiary development just starting to creep in. In the mouth espresso backs up the seam of blackcurrant, a tingle of clove spice and very polished tannins give volume, and the acidity is excellent, drawing the wine to a long, fine finish.
(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.
(2016) Lebanon once again finds itself next door to terrible conflict in Syria, but the winemakers of this beautiful country are pretty unshakable now, and business carries on in face of adversity. I've recently reviewed 30 rosé wines in my annual round-up, but there are so many around that I will be adding a supplement with another dozen soon. One of them will be this unusual blend of Tempranillo and Rhône varieties from Lebanon's Domaine des Tourelles, a fruity but savoury interpretation, deeper in colour than the ubiquitous Provence examples, but with a good food-friendly depth. Watch the video for more detail and food-matching ideas.
(2012) 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. 16 months in oak. Gentle, quite restrained nose, with a touch of cedar but the fruit pure and blackcurranty, very classy and restrained stuff. The palate has nice dry, savoury fruit and a certain lean, food friendly Bordeaux style.
(2012) 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Chardonnay (barrel fermented) and 20% Semillon. Gently mealy and custardy nose, the Semillon adding lovely lemon and waxy notes, with a broad, fleshy but deliciously fresh finish. Another lovely wine, with a tantalizingly fresh finish.
(2012) Eighteen year old vineyards, fermented and aged in oak for six months. A sesame seed nuttiness, some orange peel and apple fruit. Just hints at more tropicality. The palate has plenty of bold, decisive fruit, with a cool fruitiness, but I get that slightly aggressive combination of acidity and tart green apple against a touch of coffee and tannin. Might be better with a touch less oak.