The wines of Domaine des Tourelles

The garden at Domaines des Tourelles

Location: Chtaura, Bekaa Valley

Established: 1868

Date: March 15, 2012

Tasted at: Domaine des Tourelles Boutique, Rue Monot, Beirut

Background: Lebanon’s oldest commercial producer, Domaine des Tourelles was founded by the enigmatic Frenchman Francois-Eugene Brun. His grandson, Pierre Brun made the winery famous in the 60s, not least because of his famous Le Brun arak and a popular rosé wine. The arak is still riding high but a new generation of owners has revived life into the winery side of the business.

General comments: Domaine des Tourelles is one of the most exciting wineries to emerge in recent years and has made up serious ground on the competition due to a combination of energy, youth, innovation and thoughtful winemaking. This Spring the Domaine des Tourelles white 2011 will be carried by Marks and Spencer as part of its Eastern Mediterranean range.

Blanc

Grapes: Chardonnay 45%, Viognier 40%, Muscat d’ Alexandrie 15% 

Alc:13%

Price: $9

2011: Lovely light gold hue. Lots of pears and white flowers on the nose. In the mouth there lots of acidity and freshness with a wonderful apple and honey texture. The finish is long and dry courtesy of the Chardonnay. I am going to go out on a limb here and say this is, once again, Lebanon’s finest white wine and arguably the best overall wine I have tasted this year.

 Rosé

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon 33%, Syrah 33% and Tempranilo 33%

Alc:13%

Price: $9

2011: The powerful dark salmon color is a fitting harbinger for this gutsy wine with a nose awash with pomegranate and exotic fruits. In the mouth there is acidity and structure in spades but also bags of low release flavors – savory and fruity – leading to a smooth, dry finish possessing a lovely peppery underlay.

 

Rouge

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Syrah 45% and Cinsault 10%

Alc:13%

Price: $9

2009: Recent gold medal winner at Vinalies Nationales this lean, muscular red has a dark cherry hue and a surprisingly brooding and complex nose – with aromas of burnt cherries – for what is essentially an entry-level wine. In the mouth the experience is led by a pleasing mineral freshness that gives way to a carpet of forest fruits. The tannins are well integrated suggesting that decent aging potential, while the Cinsault punches well above its weight, giving a perfumed, and ever so lightly peppery taste to the finish.

Marquis des Beys

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon 50% and Syrah 50%

Alc:14%

Oak aging: 18 months. 1/3 new French oak 1/3, once-used oak, 1/3 twice-used oak

Price: $22

2009: Stunning inky purple. Made with grapes from the vineyards on the slopes overlooking Aana and Amiq at an elevation of 1,050m. This is a definite step up in terms of complexity. The nose gives notes of licorice and hedgerow berries. In the mouth there structure, grip and beautifully integrated tannins with layer of concentrated fruit. The finish is long and sustained and tied-off with bell peppers.

Syrah du Liban

Grapes: Syrah 100%

Alc:14%

Oak aging: 20 months in new American oak

Price: $40

2009: Made with 35-year-old Syrah grown ‘goblet’ in the red soil of Kefraya, this is the Domaine des Tourelles flagship wine and has become some of an icon in the high-end Lebanese on-trade. The nose is, as one might expect, dominated by spearmint and licorice, while the palate is fresh and mineral with suppleness that belies its youth. Wave after wave of black fruit give way to a lovely floral finish overlaid with peppers.

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