(2023) The Vieilles Vignes – ‘Old Vines’ - here really are, the 100-year-old Merweh from a vineyard at 1,400m in the Bsharreh Valley, the 50-year-old Obeidi from Bekaa. Fermented with wild yeast, the wine was made in concrete tank. There's a bit of depth to the colour, and a fruit-skin character rather than fresh fruit aromas, light earthiness and a touch of orange peel. In the mouth it is bone dry and particularly spicy. Again it reminds me of citrus and melon skins, with that dry, savoury as much as sweet character, and plenty of zippy acidity. This is a bit different for sure, and I can imagine it matching mezze or tapas really well. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) These vines truly are vieilles, or 'old', here in the high Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, at 70 years of age. Cinsault was the chosen variety for the Jesuit missionaries who planted cutting here in the 19th century, a slice of Lebanese history in more ways than one. The wine is fermented with wild yeasts, from organically-grown grapes, and is aged partly in large oak foudres, and partly in concrete vats. There's a swirling, smoky, tobacco character as well as classic cigar-box notes to keen but ripe red and black fruits. In the mouth there's loads of fleshy plum, but with a lean and muscular edge. Spices and the oak component adding savoury, smooth tannins and crisp cherry acids to balance the sweet and ripe mid-palate fruit. A lovely wine.
(2021) Massaya is a partnership between the Ghosn family of Lebanon and the Hebrard and Prunier families of Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley respectively. An unusual blend of more or less equal parts Grenache, Cinsault and Tempranillo. Bright creamy crimson, it is moderate in density and offers aromas of pomegranate, spice and pepper. This does not appear to have seen oak. In the mouth there's a savoury, endive and liquorice twist to this. On the mid-palate more sweetness comes through, the wine is medium-bodied despite the 14.5% alcohol, the finish rather dry with a dustiness to the tannins.
(2021) The southern French variety grown in Lebanon, and this unoaked wine delivers a smooth, supple, quite plush spiced plum compote fruit, surging onto the palate with lovely sweetness of fruit. It is quite substantial and mouth-filling, yet the tannins are creamy and soft and the acidity gentle, so the overall impression is elegant and very easy to drink.
(2021) The first thing to point out about this new and exclusive listing in Aldi UK, is that it is available online only and is not in stores. It's a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. With a few years under its belt, the colour is still vibrant, the nose deeply-scented with blackcurrant and a very attractive pastille quality, tiny violet notes in the mix. In the mouth it is juicy and sweet, the oak barely perceptible as plush black fruit on the mid-palate gives way to softer tannins and a nicely juicy acidity. It's not particularly long, and the finish feels a touch dilute, but it is very nice wine and a fascinating addition to the UK wine scene having a sub-£10 Lebanese wine in Aldi (online). Watch the video for more information.
(2021) First a caveat that this was only a sample of Musar, delivered to me in a miniaturised bag-in-box type format, which I did not have a chance to open for a few days after it arrived, so notes and scores taken with that caveat please. It's a remarkably dense and deep young Musar, depth of colour with immediately plummy and smooth aromas, a little cherry lift coming through as well as some smoky, tobacco spice. In the mouth the sheer abundance of fruit is almost shocking: masses of ripe berries and plum again, the underpinning of the creamy and cedary oak, smooth, chocolate-dense tannins and very nice, pert acidity. This is a particularly generous and full Musar vintage, and could well be worth more than my modest 92 point score, which I will update when I have a chance to taste from a freshly opened bottle.
(2020) A blend of 65% Viognier with Chardonnay, the local Obeidi and a touch of Muscat, this is a crisp and fresh rather than overtly aromatic white. Stone fruits and a touch of more exotic lychee lead on to a palate that is smooth and elegantly framed, the zippy acidity and richness of texture meaning the dry, but fruity flavours don't show a strong Viognier character it's true, but it is clean and cool, with good balance.
(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.