Posts Tagged ‘Bekaa Valley’

Syrah from the oldest commercial winery in Lebanon

September 12, 2017 Leave a comment

I know I am far too caught up with work and neglecting my posts when I receive a gentle, humorous prod from Lou.  Despite the lack of regular posts I still drink wine every day.  This pleasant weekend I spent an afternoon with my new neighbor Taz whose friend brought back a bottle of 2009 Domaine des Tourelles, Grande Cuvee, Syrah, Bekaa Valley from Lebanon.

Domaine des Tourelles is the oldest commercial winery in Lebanon, dating back to 1868.  It was founded by Francois Brun, a French engineer, who came to Lebanon in 1860 to build a road from Damascus to Beirut.  The winery remained in the family until 1999 when the last Brun passed away.  Today it is run by the Fissa family of which the winemaker Faouzi Issa trained for a period under Rene Rostaing.  The 19th century cement vats are still around so this wine has a tie to the past beyond just its name.

The wine itself is in a fully mature state.  It is savory with an attractive leather component that adds appreciable complexity to the fruit.  I would drink this up now while there is still good fruit.

2009 Domaine des Tourelles, Grande Cuvee, Syrah, Bekaa Valley
Imported by suitcase.  This wine is 100% Syrah fermented in concrete then aged for 24 months in American oak.  Alcohol 14%.  Maturing in color.  This is a savory wine leather notes and a gentleness that speak of some age.  There are still powdery flavors of red and black fruit.  The structure is largely resolved with mature flavors and bits of confection evident in the finish.  *** Now but will last.

Rhone lovers should drink the 2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck

The 2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck, Bekaa Valley is an enjoyable wine that is the result of is a project between Massaya, the Brunier brothers of Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, and Dominique Hébrard of Bordeaux who formerly made wine at Chateau Cheval Blanc. The results in the glass are quite enjoyable.  I find blue and black fruit flavors delivered in a fresh manner with attractive texture from the ripe tannins.  It is in a great spot right now so why wait?

2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck, Bekaa Valley – $20
Imported by Winebow Inc.  This wine is a blend of 55% Grenache Noir, 30% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah that was aged for 18 months in French oak vats.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine is minerally with ripe blue and black fruit flavors.  The grip and vigor is immediately noticeable.  The wine conveys a sense of freshness, not quite crisp, with ripe textured tannins balanced by acidity that adds to the mouth feel.  It is very much a wine to drink now.  *** Now – 2020.

Wines From France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Serbia, and More!

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

This post features a diverse selections of wines presented in order of preference.  The 2012 G.B. Burlotto, Verduno Pelaverga is interesting not just for its use of the ancient Verduno Pelaverga grape but also its lovely nose of white pepper and intriguing cinnamon note.  I can attest that I never had a wine from the Somontano DOC until I opened the 2011 Lamarca, Ojo de Liebre, Somontano.  It offers blue and black fruit with good structure and minerals at a very attractive price point.  The 2010 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres should have broader appeal than the admittedly funky 2009 vintage that I recommended.  The recently arrived 2012 Famille Lancon a Solitude, Cotes du Rhone is a strong value with its red fruit and hints of earth.  You may drink it now but it would be interesting to see what it tastes like next year.

The 2012 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora is still a good wine at its price point but lacks the control of the previous vintage.  The 2010 Massaya, Classic, Bekaa Valley is another solid value but I still wait for another 2007 equivalent. The 2010 McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas was the second wine I have tasted from this estate.  If you have not drunk a Texan wine then this is worth the experience.    Finally, the 2007 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Crete was strange and despite the attention, it was dumped.  The McPherson was purchased at Cordial Fine Wine and Spirits, I believe the Massaya was purchased at Total Wine and the remaining bottles from MacArthur Beverages.


2012 G.B. Burlotto, Verduno Pelaverga – $19
Imported by Elite Wines Imports.  This wine is 100% Verduno Pelaverga.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were fresh aromas of white pepper and general evocations of Cabernet Franc.  In the mouth were tart red flavors, pepper, and a drying nature.  The black and red fruit had very moderate grip, some lift, and a hint of dried green herbs.  The finish was minerally followed by an intriguing note of cinnamon and ripe fruit in the expansive aftertaste.  The flavors turned blacker with air.  *** Now-2019.


2011 Lamarca, Ojo de Liebre, Somontano – $13
Imported by The Spanish Wine Importers. This wine is a blend of 80% Trempranillo and 20% Garnacha aged for 12 months in oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was of sweet, macerated berries and mulberry.  The wine developed structure with some extract which counterbalanced the slightly billowy flavors of blue and black fruit.  It had very fine tannins, black stones in the finish, and hints of graphite.  It became a little savory.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2019.


2010 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres – $16
Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault which were partially destemmed then co-fermented.  It was aged in tank.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was woodsy with Kirsch and raspberry aromas.  The mouth followed the nose and was quite approachable.  There was some funky ripe fruit, black minerals, and satisfying round tannins.  It became a softer wine with air, blacker with low-lying violets.  There was a good finish with firm tannins.  *** Now-2017.


2012 Famille Lancon a Solitude, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by Langdon Shiverick.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose bore delicate ripe aromas of fresh strawberry and cherry.  In the mouth were fresh red fruit and cherry that was roundish but had some solidity.  The fruit seamlessly mixed with  the acidity making way to a ripe and fresh strawberry finish.  There was a hint of citrus and a little earth with air.  Strong value.  ** Now-2017.


2012 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Portuguiser.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was of ripe strawberries.  In the mouth were round, puffy flavors that were quite forward.  There was some tang to the wine and texture on the tongue.  The tart aftertaste  brought some cranberry-strawberry flavors and hints of minerals.  A tasty wine but a little too loose.  ** Now-2015.


2010 Massaya, Classic, Bekaa Valley – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cinsault, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were more berry and tooty-fruity flavors that had some freshness.  With air, there was a spicy bit with acidity on the front-middle of the tongue then black fruit with some minerals before a little grainy, macerated berry flavor came out.  A solid wine.  ** Now-2015.


2010 McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas – $18
This wine is a blend of 62% Mourvedre, 27% Carignan, and 11% Viognier.  Alcohol 13.9%.  There were wafting aromas of macerated berries.  Billowy.  There was a riper start in the mouth with strawberry notes before the flavors became redder and riper.  It turned softer in the short finish.  There were no hard edges but could use more acidity for verve.  ** Now.


2007 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Crete – $18
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Roussanne.  Alcohol 14%.  There were tangy flavors  of red and black fruit.  The wine became citric and sharp towards the finish as the acidity became quite noticeable.  There were potpourri notes in the aftertaste.  On the second night the wine was woodsy and yeasty.  Strange.  * Now.


I Get Fooled by Hard Cider

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

This past weekend a small group of us gathered for a wine tasting and dinner at Lou’s house. There was no set theme this time but it did not take us long to figure out our contributions. Jenn particularly liked the 2011 Agrina, Portuguiser we recently tasted so she suggested we bring that and another Balkan wine. So I added in the 2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa and 2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar to round things out. With two wines from Serbia and one from Lebanon we were sure to shake things up.

We started with the Domaine Overnoy-Crinquand, Rose Brut so I did not bother to take a note. The second wine, Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres was flawed. With the Domaine des Baumard flawed Lou quickly returned with a replacement. I was stumped and kept thinking it was some weird white wine from Pennsylvania. The wine was revealed to be Hard Cider from Maryland! Upon revisiting I could get the apple skins. With such a twist it was already a fun tasting!

We then moved downstairs into the tasting room to taste through the five red wines. The first wine was immediately obvious to me (having recently tasted it) as the Agrina, Portuguiser. It was a polarizing wine with half of us loving it and the other half not. The Paveil de Luze showed quite well at first with classic wood box aromas. It was less opulent than other 2009s and has a structure that will allow it to benefit from cellaring. The Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa is still young with a core of fruit that is still tight with tannins to match. The flavors are good but I would be inclined to cellar this as well. The Domaine Saint Damien was lovely, captivated everyone right away, and was the first to be finished. It continued to develop over the evening with intact bottles likely to do so for several years. It is a treat now but I would wait five years. The Chateau Musar, Hochar developed over the evening in fits and starts. I initially thought it quite soft and a bit disappointing so I rated it two stars. Upon revisiting it had fleshed out becoming enlivened by its acidity. On the second night, without any gas, it drank great. Who knows, this wacky wine might outlive all of the others. Jenn and I were getting ready to take off so I only briefly tasted the Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux. Lou continued the cider theme by producing a vintage bottle of Ice Cider from Quebec! Take my note and rating for what its worth and certainly do not expect to switch your Sauternes with Ice Cider. But if you like Cider and apples this is pretty cool stuff. I can almost imagine why fruit wines were so popular centuries ago. Many thanks to everyone for their contributions and to Lou for both hosting and pulling out interesting drinks.

Lou double-decanted the Domaine Saint Damien one and a half hours before the tasting. I double-decanted the Vino Budimir and Chateau Musar one hour prior with the Agrina just half an hour. Everything else was opened shortly before tasting. All beverages were served blind except for the Domaine Cordiere Pere et Fils and the Domaine Lafrance. Please find my notes below in the order tasted.

2005 Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres
Imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies. This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. Alcohol 13%. The color was a light yellow straw. There was a stinky, foxy nose,….bad yuck. Flawed.

NV Distillery Lane Ciderworks, The Jefferson Hard Cider, Maryland
This cider is made from pressed Newtown Pippins which were aged in American oak. Alcohol 7.3%. The color was a light golden-yellow, a touch cloudy. The medium strength nose revealed dried apricot, sweeter aromas, and floral hints. In the mouth the flavors were much drier and lighter, with a hint of citrus. It started off lively then faded towards the finish. After the reveal I picked up apple skin on the nose. * Now.

2011 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Portuguiser. Alcohol 13%. The color was light to medium ruby. The light to medium nose was scented with berry-liscious aromas. In the mouth this wine offered up bright, concentrated flavors of berries, some tartness, and lifted perfume. Very fruit driven. *** Now-2014.

2009 Chateau Paveil de Luze, Margaux
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was light to medium grapey ruby. The nose was Bordeaux like with black red fruit, wood box, and a little texture. In the mouth the flavors were savory, a little lighter than the nose indicated, and focused. There were tart black fruits, minerals, wood box, and acidity from the start. This was nice with integrated tannins and flavors that, with air, became drier. I would cellar it a few years. On the second night the nose was higher toned with tart black fruit in the mouth, a dry quality…basically shutdown, needs some age. *** 2015-2025.

2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa, Zupa, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 60% Prokupac and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon which were fermented with indigenous yeasts. The Prokupac was aged for three years in 3000 L oak casks and the Cabernet Sauvignon in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was medium garnet. The light, tight nose bore interesting aromas which I could not describe. In the mouth there was ripe, focused fruit, a little spicy, and the impression of a young wine. The core of fruit was a bit wound up but still had a lifted quality before the flavors dried and faded a little bit. This was grapey with ripe tannins, and brighter, powdery red fruit in the finish and a racy, black aftertaste. On the second night the nose was very grapey. The mouth still had good ripe, concentrated fruit but the tannins structure stepped up. *** 2014-2022.

2006 Domaine Saint Damien, Cuvee La Louisane, Gigondas
Imported by Premier Cru. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache (planted in 1942), 15% Mourvedre (planted in 1977), and 5% Cinsault (planted in 1951) and Syrah sourced from parcels on the mid-hills at La Louisiane. It was fermented for six weeks in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 15%. The color was light to medium ruby garnet. The nose was light with black-red fruit, a touch of sweet vanilla, and with air it reminded me of Bordeaux. In the mouth there was ripe, concentrated fruit, lifted minerally flavors, tannins, and enjoyable texture. Simply a really nice wine to drink with great potential. ***(*) Now-2027.

2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar, Bekaa Valley
Imported by Broadbent Selections. This wine is a blend of 30% Cinsault, 20% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Carignan which was aged in oak barrels for nine months. Alcohol 13.5% The color was light garnet. The medium strength nose revealed minerally black, sweet fruit; generally nice nose with older notes. In the mouth there was red fruit and maple, soft in feel with acidity towards the end. There was some complexity but softness prevailed before an aftertaste with a little firmness. Upon revisiting the wine had fleshed out with air to become quite lively and fuller. On the second night the nose was still smelling good with vintage cherry candy. In the mouth there was dark red fruit with a similar vintage perfume note, black and red fruit, acidity which mixed with black fruit followed by interesting tannins. *** Now-2017 (perhaps longer).

2010 Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux, Saint Veran
Imported by Robert Kacher. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was a very light golden straw. The medium strength nose reminded me of masa. The mouth followed the nose with moderate mouthfeel, good weight, and a sense of richness. Uniquely enjoyable. Not Rated.

2007 Domaine Lafrance, Cuvee Speciale, Ice Cider Quebec – (200mL)
From apples harvested in January which are then fermented in vat. It takes 60 apples to produce 375mL. Alcohol 10.5%. The color was a very light golden amber. The medium strength nose revealed potpourri, old perfume, and some aromas not encountered before. In the mouth this medium bodied cider bore similar flavors with tart fruit, apple acidity, and plenty of acidity in the aftertaste. Showed better integration on the third night with almost syrupy body that made way to tart fruit and integrated acidity. ***?? Now-??.

A Pair of Wines Tasted in Seattle

This post features more wine tasted during my last trip to Seattle.  I grabbed the wine produced by San Isidro because I had never tried one from Bullas.  The wine is made by Juan Garcia Valera at the San Isidro Cooperative.  Bullas is located in south-east Spain just south of Jumilla in Murcia.  Bullas is higher in altitude and dryer than Jumilla. This bottle had good notes of stone and orange but it never shook off a hardness so it remained hard to embrace.  I grabbed the Chateau Kefraya because I have a strong curiosity about Lebanese wines.  Unfortunately this bottle was not interesting! These bottles were purchased from Wine World & Spirits in Seattle.

2010 San Isidro, Cepas del Zorro, Bullas – $14
Imported by Small Vineyards LLC.  This wine is mostly Monastrell.  The color was a medium purplish black cherry.  There was a light nose of delicate red berries and oranges.  This started off a bit earthy and rustic in the mouth.  It eventually remained hard with red fruit, framed in stone, with a hint of orange in the finish.  There was acidity and a touch of watery feel.  The tannins were integrated.  ** Now-2015.

2009 Chateau Kefraya, Les Breteches, Bekaa Valley – $20
Imported by Volubilis.  This wine is a blend of 66% Cinsault, 15% Tempranillo, 10.5% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2.5% Carignan.  It underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged in stainless steel.  Red fruit, herbs, not too much depth and short finish. Drinkable but boring.  * Now.

Two Lebanese Wines from Chateau Ksara

May 29, 2012 1 comment

Last month I drank a satisfying glass of 2010 Chateau Ksara, Cuvee de Printemps. I recently followed this glass by trying two other red selections.  I would certainly pass on the Reserve du Couvent but would recommend consideration of the Cabernet Sauvignon.  If you are new to Lebanese wine then it is a reasonably priced introduction.  Otherwise wait for it to go on sale.  These wines are currently available at Wegmans of Fairfax.

2009 Chateau Ksara, Reserve du Couvent, Bekaa Valley – ~$12
Imported by American Fidelity Trading.  This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon which underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 12 months.  The fruit was tart with a woodsy note.  The red fruit flavors were soft yet lean with acidity stepping up in the middle with a citrus-like nature.  The tannins were drying and chewy.  * Now-2014.

2008 Chateau Ksara, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cuvee Speciale, Bekaa Valley – ~$16
Imported by American Fidelity Trading.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 14 months in 50% new French oak.  This nose was more interesting with black fruit and cedar box.  In the mouth there was good blue and black fruit, a little more concentration, and fine, spicy, ripe tannins.  There was a juicy quality as old wood notes came out giving this a good twist between modern and traditional.  ** Now-2017.

A Casual Evening at the Lebanese Taverna Cafe

The weather in Maryland was beautiful Friday evening so my daughter wanted to eat out for dinner.  She picked the Lebanese Taverna Cafe.  I have been eating at the restaurant in DC since I was a little boy so am always willing to visit, besides it would give us an opportunity to try a few glasses of wine.  The Lebanese Taverna first opened in 1979 in Arlington, Virginia and today has several restaurants and cafes throughout the Washington, DC area.  The restaurants have a sizeable, international wine list with a  strong selection of Lebanese wines.  The cafes have a small list of less than ten red and white wines, all priced at $6 per glass or $25 per bottle.  The hostess picked two different wines for us.  The Chateau Ksara was poured from the remainder of one bottle and a newly opened bottle.  It was really quite good, strongly priced at $25 per bottle at the cafe, and a wine which you could enjoy a bottle with your family throughout a lazy evening.  I never would have guessed it was a blend of Gamay and Tempranillo, my first from Lebanon!  I have been a fan of Chateau Ksara for some time so I was pleased to enjoy another of their wines.  Unfortunately the Clos St. Thomas did not show too well. Though it was poured from a mostly-full bottle, I thought it was simply tired from a long-opened bottle but looking at the color I wonder if it was a bit cooked.  I am always willing to try a wine from Lebanon and recommend that you do to.

2010 Chateau Ksara, Cuvee de Printemps, Bekaa Valley
Imported by American Fidelity Trading.  This wine is a blend of 60% Gamay and 40% Tempranillo which underwent semi-carbonic maceration, malolactic fermentation, and interrupted alcoholic fermentation.   Grapey ruby color.  Lighter fruity berrylicious nose.  Racy blue and red berries, bright acidity with minimal tannins give structure, cherry note in the finish.  Actually quite satisfying. ** Now-2014.

2007 Clos St. Thomas, Les Gourmets Rouge, Bekaa Valley
Imported by .American Fidelity Trading.  This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Cinsault.  Garnet, bricking, dark core.  Softer more mature nose, roasted fruits and a touch tired (open for a while?) Soft fruits, old wood, some concentration, roast fruit a bit blue, touch drying tannins. Not Rated.