Fleuron 2010

Winery: Heritage

Location: Qab Elias, Bekaa Valley

Established: 1995

Date: February 7, 2012

Tasted at: home in Beirut

Le Fleuron, 2010

Grapes: Cinsault (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Tempranillo (10%), Mourvedre (10%), Syrah (10%), Grenache (10%), Carignan (10%)

Alc: 13.5%

If you live in Lebanon, $4.00 will buy you this fabulous wine, one that punches above it weight in terms of quality, while still being loyal to what it sets out to be: an easy-drinking wine with guts, structure and not a bit of elegance.

Winery owner Dargham Touma (Dr D to his friends) is a thoughtful blender who also understands that his land can make honest wine that will be appreciated by international consumers and unlike some Lebanese producers, he has embraced Cinsault rather than pull it up and plant yet more hectares of Cab, Merlot and Syrah. He knows that Mourvedre, Grenache and Carignan can deliver great results in the Bekaa’s’s dry heat.

With a mid ruby hue, it is full of wonderfully evocative Bekaa Valley aromas – strawberries, blackberries, thistle, sumac, plums and thyme. It is sun-baked, fruity, sexy (verging on the dirty) and alive. It is one of the few Lebanese wines that can truly express Lebanon’s terroir (mainly due to the stunning Cinsault from winery’s vineyards on the slopes of the Anti-Lebanon range near the Syrian and Israeli border).

There is body and even a degree of complexity and all this from what is meant to be an honest vin de table. I wager that Le Fleuron would blow away most wines in the £17-£30 price range on offer at many of London’s gastro-pubs on their supposedly thoughtful wine lists. The wine blogger, Henry Jeffreys, said that if he ever opened a restaurant Le Fleuron would be a contender for his house red. I would eat there.

If I had any quibble it would be that finish might be a bit more sustained, but at this price who cares.

Avoid the 2009 at all costs; for some reason it was a duff vintage for Le Fleuron. If you stumble across an 08, snap it up; it’s a classic and will still be showing well.

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