Is this Bekaa Valley or Mendoza? A change to my “normal California wines & wineries”!
It is Bekaa Valley in Lebanon with the snow-capped mountain range of Laqlouq in the background. Yet similarly striking as Mendoza with the Andes in the background (although the Andes being more striking!). This 75 mile long valley and 10 miles wide is notable for many wines with an average altitude of 1,000 feet.
A quick history lesson is important in understand this regions impact to wine throughout the world. First, ancient Phoenicians (now Lebanon) who inhabited the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, developed a maritime trading culture. Their influences in both winemaking and viticulture were considered the source of recorded wine history. Scholars attribute this area for making wine since 6,000 BC!! Many believe their dissemination of wine by trade routes influenced greatly the countries of Egypt, Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
Secondly the Lebanon varietals range from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cinsaut, Carignan, Grenache, Musar, Obeideh, Merwah, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Muscat. Combined the wineries of Lebanon produce approximately 600,000 cases of wine a year. Chateau Ksara Winery remains the largest, with 70% of all the country’s production.
This brings us to reviewing a bottle of Chateau Ksara. They are the country’s oldest winery, founded in 1857 by Jesuit Fathers for making sacramental wine.
Now let’s discuss their 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon made with 100% Cab Sauvignon grapes and aged 14 months in 50% new French oak casks. This produces a full body Cabernet with structure and surprisingly potential to lay down in the cellar for a few years. Strong tannins fill the upper palate. Color has a light purple hue. Key aromas and tastes are peppers and semi-sweet dark chocolate. Personally I would like a bit more fruit to be exposed.
The prophets speak in the Old Testament about God’s restoration of his people, the quote “I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely….They shall again live beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom like the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:1, 7). Now there is a visual for today’s world—restoration and being fragrant. What a welcomed picture. Pick up a bottle and see how it might change you!
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