Cab/Syrah/Cinsault/Carignan on sandy clay-limestone. Fermented & aged in concrete tanks, some are the originals built in the cellars over a century ago. Full-bodied & rich w/ blackberries, plums, & raz, along w/cigar box, black licorice & black pepper. Read more..
Lebanon (formally known as the Republic of Lebanon) is a country at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Syria and Israel. It has been an important commercial hub for the Middle East, but has often also been at the center of Middle Eastern conflicts due to its small size and its shared borders. As a refuge for the region's minorities for centuries, Lebanon boasts a uniquely complex communal make-up of Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Christians, and Druze.
The Bekaa Valley is a plateau separating the Lebanon Mountains from the Anti-Lebanon Mountains (the name comes from the Latin Antilibanus - opposite to the Mount Lebanon range) that sits at 2,500 to 3,000 feet above sea level. The valley benefits from a microclimate in which over 65% of the days are sunny. The heat of the summer days is offset by cool nights, when breezes circulate throughout the valley and the temperature can drop from 90F to 60F. These cold nights sustain the vineyards through the heat and drought of summer. Annual rainfall is between ten and eleven inches, mostly in fall and winter, less-so in the spring, and almost not at all in the summer. The rocky soil is covered by a layer of clay-chalk and limestone, making the Bekaa Valley ideal for vine growing. All of these conditions combine to produce healthy grapes, and rich, fleshy, tannic reds, and delicate, aromatic whites.
Domaine des Tourelles winery and vineyards are at the highest altitude, in Chtaura. Its 40 hectares of organically and dry-farmed vineyards receive water from the snow melt from the surrounding mountains. They are either owned or under long-term contracts for upwards of 25 and 30 years. Some of their vines are more than 70 years old and amongst the oldest in the Bekaa Valley. Yields are extremely low and everything is hand-harvested. The wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless (for the whites and rosés) and concrete vats (very rare in Lebanon) for the reds. A minimal amount of sulfur is added at bottling, and the wines are vegan.
Domaine des Tourelles was founded in 1868 by Frenchman François-Eugène Brun; it was the first commercial producer in Lebanon of wine, arak, and other spirits. In 2000, it was bought by descendants of Brun’s Lebanese wife, Nayla Kanaan Issa-el-Khoury and Elie F. Issa. Today it is run by their children, Faouzi Issa (winemaker), Christaine Issa, and Emile Issa-el Khoury. Faouzi trained in Montpellier and worked at Domaine René Rostaing in Côte Rôtie before joining the legendary Château Margaux, from 2007 to 2008. He then went back to the Bekaa Valley and proceeded to produce wines that are amongst the most recognized and awarded in Lebanon. Decanter Magazine called him the "Dusty Winemaker": dust, Faouzi says “encourages the natural yeasts that give our wines their distinctive character.”
The rouge is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cinsault, and Carignan planted on sandy clay-limestone soils. It’s fermented and aged in concrete tanks, some which are the original ones built in the cellars a century and a half a go. This is a full-bodied, rich and perfumed wine with blackberries, plums, and raspberries on the nose, along with cigar box, black licorice, and black pepper. The palate is velvety and full of dark fruit, tobacco, licorice again. The finish gets a nice mineral lift from the limestone soil influence before trailing into warm spices and earthy complexity. While this would make an ideal pairing for grilled or braised meats of the region, it would also pair well with grilled eggplant and mushrooms.
Cab/Syrah/Cinsault/Carignan on sandy clay-limestone. Fermented & aged in concrete tanks, some are t..
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