Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to ask you to set tradition aside for a moment and join me on this journey of discovering 5 Lebanese wines that you wouldn’t find lying around on a supermarket shelf… and which I’m pretty sure you haven’t heard about.
I’m a huge fan of supporting small local businesses. Luckily, the Lebanese wine industry welcomes more than enough of these every few years. To date, there are more than 50 Lebanese wineries selling vintages in the market, locally or abroad. With so many wineries in such a small country, and when only the prominent traditional names make it to our local supermarkets, who in the seven heavens can stay informed about all the other existant Lebanese wineries?
Well. I do. Which means, your life just got that much easier with my help!
Below, I’m introducing you to 5 Lebanese wineries that you probably didn’t even know about. Some are new, some are old, all are original, and all are worth trying this season!
“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.”
Latourba winery is a privately owned vineyard belonging to Elie Chehwan in Saghbine, West Bekaa. His quote above is possibly one of my all-time favorite quotes. The winemakers of Latourba are proud of their layers of soil, wisdom, history, and tradition that help them cultivate vines in the most natural way. Each type of grape from the vineyards is vinified separately to create single variety wines that are unique to the terroir.
Latourba produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and more. The brand is also the proud producer of the first sparkling wine in the region – meaning they make a local “Champagne”, or rather a “Saghbine” LOL.
“A wine born to inspire, captivate, and compel.”
As I am an aspiring writer and have been an artist since I could hold a pencil, this wine especially appeals to me. Created by the award-winning consultant and revered French winemaker, Michel Rolland, Muse is what you’d call a concept wine. With vineyards cultivated, grown, and handpicked for vinification in Aynata, Bekaa, the winery produces 3 wines only – and refer to each one as a “her” – Rousing Red, Wantom White, and Rebellious Rose.
Rolland designed the wines and the concept around the mythical Greek creatures of inspiration, the muses. With a wildly imaginative concept, he adopted the youthful image and feminine creative drive that describes these creatures. This, in my opinion, makes Muse the perfect wine for the younger generation to explore.
“Iris Domain is a wine of passion.”
It’s always better to do one thing perfectly than do a lot fairly. Iris Domain has got that down to an art. Iris Domain produces one limited quantity, high quality micro-cuvee Lebanese red wine. It is an exclusive biodynamic Lebanese winery, managing and growing a small estate vineyard in Btalloum, Mount Lebanon at an altitude of 1000 to 1200 meters. For a while now, they have been distributing their 2009 vintage; luckily for us, they recently started opening their 2012, which you’ll probably start seeing in the market soon.
“Celebrating the richness and authenticity of its Mediterranean soil.”
Only last month, Sept Winery was added to the ever-growing list of Lebanese wineries. Sept is the passion project of Maher Harb, who’s not-so-sudden change of heart led him to the wondrous new path of winemaking. Proudly calling it a vin de lieu, Maher grows his vines the biodynamic and natural way in his hometown Nehla, Batroun. He never intervenes with the growth of his grapes and makes his wine using indigenous yeast, without added chemicals or additive.
Sept has released 4 vintages: Cuvee du Soleil, Syrah, Viognier, and a wine from 100% Lebanese grapes, Obeideh.
“Lebanese natural wine made with no sulfites and with great love.”
Chateau Isaac began in 2000 with the Ishak family in Deir el Ahmar, North Bekaa, and was officially launched in 2010. Isaac winery is a small production “homemade wine”. The Ishaks grow and manage their own vineyard at an altitude of 900 to 1200 meters, and produce a Lebanese red wine that they claim to be “the only organic red wine in Lebanon, made without added sulfites or additives.”
Chateau Ishak produces sec, demi-sec, and sweet red wine, white wine, and rose wine.
PS: Thank you, Selim Yasmine for always answering my inquisitions, no matter how off-topic they may seem at the moment! All wines available on 209 Lebanese Wine.
And I’ll see you soon with another glass of red!