(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) 50% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Six months in one year old oak, after blending. Quite a bright, jammy, slightly lifted red and black fruit nose, a touch of mint chocolate. The palate has spice and quite robust, chunky tannins, with a big orangy, juicy qualities. Quite juicy and fresh, a little astringency on the finish perhaps, needing food.
(2012) Single vineyard, all barrel fermented then seven months in oak. Big, buttered cabbage and lightly mint humbuggy nose, the oak quite prominent, but lovely quality. Orange and lemon fruit bursts through on the palate, just a touch of green apple tartness and bite, and there is minerality here, with some spice too, the mouth-watering freshness good into a long finish.
(2012) Cinsault 67%, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan. Smoky, soft, delicate rose-hip fruitiness and cherry ripe fruit. The palate has a little dryness, some bright, easy-drinking red fruits and a bit of more rustic, grippy tannin.
(2012) Cabernet Sauvignon 70% with Merlot and Syrah. A little bit of resinous, slightly volatile aroma and a lot of oak here. All new barrels, 80% of the wine in barrel. Some smoky bacon character. Deep blackcurrant fruit. Quite creamy, a touch smoky on the palate too, but again that level of smoky, charry oak just biting on the finish slightly. Would be interesting to taste again in a few years and slightly warmer.
(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.