Last week I had the privilege of attending the Annual Wine Bloggers Conference, hosted in Lodi, California. If you have Lodi even remotely placed in your wine consciousness, you are thinking Zinfandel. Yes, dear. It gets hot there. All the better to ripen the grapes with. But Lodi is doing more than zin and this post is about more than Lodi. It is a reflection of the community of bloggers that comes together annually to connect, share ideas and highlight a region. That community of bloggers is diverse and they come from far and away, which brings me to tasting wine from Lebanon.
Lodi = Lebanon = ?
This was only my second conference and I was thrilled to be able see folks from last year. One such person, made a strong impression, because she traveled all the way from Lebanon! Maria Frangieh is more than a wine blogger, in fact a she is a self-described, "lifestyle lebanese blogger". With 11 years of digital marketing experience and a PhD in Web Technologies and Knowledge Management, she was also one of the presenters at the conference, giving us all some tips. I will try to make her proud as I endeavor to review a wine from Lebanon that she shared with me!
What do you know about wine making in Lebanon? Have you ever had a wine from there? I don't believe that I had, until now. I hope this review piques your curiosity, as it sure has mine. Would it shock you to know that winemaking in Lebanon is some of the oldest? We're talkin' B.C. people. Thousands of years ago. Five thousand by some estimates. Biblical. After that period, there were a host of cultural developments in which the winemaking ebbed and flowed:) This leads up to approximately 1857, when the winery of this review was founded by Jesuit Priests. The monastic have always had a knack for fermenting juice to this side of boozy. And we thank them for it. The wine I am reviewing here come from Chateau Ksara in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. They have been making wine for over 156 years and have multiple vineyards in the country, which account for their varied styles. They makes reds, whites, rosé, sweet fortified wine and even a brandy. They are a big operation, welcoming up to 40,000 visitors each year.
Video by Gabriel Manzo.
The Chateau Ksara 2013 Réserve du Couvent, tasting notes
The wine I sampled is a red blend of: 40% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aged in oak for 6 months, which mellows out the tannins to produce a very quaffable and versatile red. I really enjoyed this wine! The nose reflects the red fruits it beckons. On the palate, dark berries and plums compete for dominance but are tempered by the refinement of age. The finish is dry, but not dehydrating. It is balanced and elegant. It leaves you pondering the distance to Lebanon, dreaming up your next vacation. This wine would pair well with a multitude of foods. I would likely have it with some kind of mushroom pasta with a creamy cheese involved. Though it contains Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the Syrah rounds it out to feel medium bodied, but packed with flavor, layers and stories. I highly recommend it!
First 3 photos by Gabriel Manzo.
How can I get it?
If you do not reside in or near Lebanon, have no fear. There is something called The Internet. And another thing called "online ordering". And something else, this wine is in an affordable price point for the high quality that it is. I am finding it from $9-$15 on Wine Searcher. You can certainly contact Chateau Ksara for more information about distribution in your area...or to plan your visit! Seriously, if this is what Lebanese wine tastes like, sign me up!
This wine is a reminder...
Wine connects us. Wine is history, culture, farming, politics, nature, travel, family, friends, community and so much more. I went to Lodi and very unexpectedly came home with a piece of Lebanon. Thank you Maria, thank you Wine Bloggers Conference and thank you Lodi, for offering a space and a stunning grape filled landscape for us to all come together! More on Lodi coming soon!