Wine by the grape: Lebanese varietals

Ok so I’m back from holiday and weeks compiling the second edition of my wine guide, which will be published by Turning Point in November. It’s been hard work, but it did allow me to revisit some of the more obscure areas of Lebanon’s wine country and discover that the quality across the board has improved dramatically. Wines from wineries who never made into the first guide were suddenly among the ones I longed to try again. Go figure.

In May, I had the pleasure to meet Aussie-Lebanese restaurateur Joe Abboud. Not only is Joe passionate about food, he is equally excited about all things Lebanese including wine, beer (961, not Almaza) and arak. He believes that, given the Australian fixation with wines by the grape, any bid to enter the Australian market should be led by Lebanon’s varietals of which there are 35, representing 11 varieties of grape. Much more than I thought and more than enough to be getting on with if you had a mind to invade Oz.

The whites impressed me the most. Chardonnays from Domaine Wardy and Batroun Mountains, oaked and unoaked respectively, were memorable as was Batroun Mountains’ Riesling. In the reds, Chateau Sanctus knocked my socks off with its ripe, rounded and slightly evolved Cab and Syrah, while Tazka, a modest winery near my home in the Metn has a fabulous majority Cinsault varietal that you can buy for a mere $4. It is classic and refreshing easy drinking summer red that my sister admitted she would not hesitate to serve at her bridge evenings. Make of that what you will.

Anyway, I thought it would be a fun and easy exercise to list all the Lebanese varietals by the grape. Just fyi, there is no law in Lebanon that stipulates a minimum percentage of a certain grape to qualify for varietal status. Laws in other countries vary between 75% (the US) and 85% (Europe). The wineries make varietals with at least 80% of one variety, although almost all tell me they are 100%.

 

Alicante Bouschet

Clos de Cana

 

Cabernet Franc

Aurora

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Batroun Mountains

Château Fakra

Château Ksara

Château Sanctus

Coteaux de Botrys

Domaine Wardy

Heritage

Karam Winery

Tazka

 

Chardonnay

Aurora

Batroun Mountains

Château Ksara

Château St Thomas

Domaine Wardy

Nabise Mont Liban

Oumsyat

Cinsault

Tazka

 

Merlot

Château St Thomas

Domaine Wardy

 

Pinot Gris

Château Khoury

 

Pinot Noir

Château St Thomas

Reserve Ammiq

Tazka

 

 

Riesling

Batroun Mountains

 

Sauvignon Blanc

Aurora

Domaine Wardy

 

Syrah

Batroun Mountains

Château Sanctus

Coteaux de Botrys

Domaine des Tourelles

Domaine Wardy

Heritage

Karam Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ali Nicol said,

    Interesting piece. Elie Maarmari from Ksara will be in Hong Kong in a couple of weeks and we plan to interview him and taste some old vintage Ksara….look out for our report on that at http://www.winetimeshk.blogspot.com Keep up the good work! Cheers!


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