Château Sanctus: A hidden treasure from North Lebanon

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As I head to Paris tomorrow for a what should be a landmark event in the ongoing evolution of Lebanon wine, one in which 29 producers from all over the country will be showing their wines at the Hotel Georges V, I want to share my tasting notes from a recent visit to Château Sanctus in Marmara in the Batroun region of North Lebanon. Sanctus will be in Paris and I urge you to seek them out, as I do all the wines on show.

Ramez Awad, owner of Chateau Sanctus

Ramez Awad, owner of Chateau Sanctus

Not only are the wines – of which owner Ramez Awad makes only 12,000 bottles (from 4 ha of vines grown at 900 meters) each year – among the most exciting in Lebanon today, they are typical of how I see the Lebanese wine industry developing: micro producers across varied terroir making wine of amazing diversity and quality.

Château Sanctus in February

Château Sanctus in March

Batroun is now home to eight wineries, making it Lebanon’s second most active wine region after the Bekaa Valley. The grapes in batroun are grown at between 400 and 1,300 meters in vineyards that are both sea facing and planted further inland. This potential for diversity in terms of style and character will no doubt consolidate Batroun as the boutique hub of Lebanese wine.

Bulgarian oak

Bulgarian oak

Raw, sexy and wild, Sanctus wines are the closest in style I have tasted to Serge Hochar’s iconic Château Musar reds, but with less volatile acidity and more roundness and intenseness of flavor in the fruit.

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Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Nose of red roses. In the mouth, the wine is silky smooth with flavors of ripe black fruits, especially cassis, and bell peppers. A serious wine that needs decanting. $17*

Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Basil, black peppers and Parma ham on the nose. In the mouth the body is elegant and the fruits are ripe. A suave, grown-up wine. $34

08

Aged in second year Bulgarian oak. A genuine iron fist in a velvet glove. Intense flavors with soft rounded fruits. Decanted for six hours, but worth the wait. The Bulgarian oak is a change. $35

06

Rain drenched wood, mushrooms and bell peppers on the nose. Lush red fruits in the mouth and a deliciously velvet finish. $25

Syrah 2008

Black velvet hue. A nose of pork meats and ham. Elegant and mature. In the mouth, the signature licorice has been marshaled into an expression of something more than just a flavor. It, along with the berry fruits and leathery spice, defines the character of the wine. Decant to fully enjoy. $27

06

Wild and wonderful nose of dried fruits. Needed time after decanting but patience paid off and the tannins and the black fruit were sublime. $27

Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 09

Two years in new French oak. Notes of wild earthy fruits and wild spice. Idiosyncratic and sublime. Decanted, as it needed time to settle. $35

05

Aged in new Bulgarian oak. Nose of smoked sausage, dried figs and raspberries. Needed time to settle, but evolved with savory flavors and black fruits in the mouth. Again the Bulgarian oak offers something different and earthy. $35

Grenache 2010

Steely, oxidized nose. Not unpleasant. Good fruit. Not as complex as its stable mates. $15

Contact

Ramez Awad

TEL. +961 3 661 699

EMAIL ramaouad@yahoo.com

All prices retail from the winery

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mohamed Ali Osseiran said,

    Where is your wine retailing other than in the winery?


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