August 12, 2015
Region of the Week: Lebanon, Bekka Valley
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, is where you can find the Temple of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. It is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, with 5000 years of winemaking history; and yet one of the lesser known. This oasis of viticulture yields some exciting and interesting wines – keep reading to learn more!
Bekaa Valley and its grapes
Center of the Lebanon’s wine industry, the Bekaa Valley is home to most of Lebanon’s vineyards, with its Mediterranean climate and elevated slopes.
To understand Bekaa Valley’s grapes, it is first important to understand the country’s history. Lebanon has a significant French influence, from the arrival of Jesuits in 2857, who introduced wines from French-governed Algeria, as well as the French occupation after World War I.
The first modern varietal planted in the Christian era was the French Cinsault, followed by reds such as Carignon, Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre, which are the most heavily planted grapes of the region. Bekaa Valley also has the whites Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Ugni Blanc and Clairette. The region also uses some indigenous grapes, most notably Obaideh and Merwah, both white varietals.
Where to taste?
Chateau Ksara – Founded in 1857 by the Jesuits, Ksara is Lebanon’s oldest and largest winery. Some of the wines produced there in the 19th century are even still stored in the cellars of the winery! With a museum, a peaceful tasting area and one of the best restaurants of the Beeka Valley, Chateau Ksara cannot be missed. The winery is famous for its gorgeous dry rosés: start with the 2012 Château Ksara Gris de Gris; and for a spicy and creamy experience, go for the 2012 Château Ksara Blanc de Blancs.
Chateau Kefraya – Established in 1987 by French-Lebanese Michel de Bustros, the 122-hectare winery is the second largest in Lebanon. Located in the very heart of the Bekaa Valley, Chateau Kefraya is surrounded by extraordinary biblical landscapes, and produces powerful wines. Don’t miss the winery’s 2010 Comte du M Rouge for an intense blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with 30% Syrah.