Ronan Sayburn at Chateau Belle-Vue

A little birdie told me that Master Sommelier, Ronan Sayburn was in Lebanon over the weekend visiting Chateau Belle-Vue, the micro-winery in Bhamdoun. Belle-Vue, which is owned by Naji and Jill Boutros, only produces around 20,000 bottles a year but each one is treated like gold bullion by the proud owners.

Not surprising therefore that these wine – there are two monster reds and an elegant white – wines have punched about their weight for some years now, finding their way on to some very blue chip wine lists. Hence, no doubt the presence of Mr. Sayburn.

Yesterday, I also received Belle-Vue’s regular news letter. The winery is clearly doing the basics very well. It has a great product, a terrific story and is working hard as creating a sense of community both in Bhamdoun. The Boutros’s have been working hard to restore viticulture to this proud grape growing town and encourage the local population to support the winery’s activities and Internationally, where many of the wines are sold via an online club of Belle-Vue devotees.

There are around a dozen other similar-sized wineries in Lebanon and the number is growing every year. However not all of them have communicated the sense of family, narrative and community that is essential to the profile of the micro-winery. I have argued for many years now that the Belle-Vue model is the future of Lebanese wine – boutique wines from a boutique country, if you like – but they will have to compete in what is a very tough market at home and abroad.

Land is at a premium and many producers are planting vines on small family plots. In these conditions, producers need to make stunning wines, beautifully labeled and in the correct bottles. They need to have a compelling story and they need to have a clear and effective communication strategy to the market and their ‘supporters’. I would also argue that they need to be more adventurous in their blends but that’s a topic for another day. In the meantime, Belle-Vue appears to have nailed it and I for one can’t wait to help with the harvest later this year.


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    i am enjoying this blog, thanks Michael!

  2. 2

    Assaad Hark said,

    Very nice review Michael, Congratulations to Naji and Jill and all the best.

    Assaad Hark
    Batroun Montains

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