Fruity And Full Of Character: Here’s To Lebanese Wines

Fruity And Full Of Character: Here’s To Lebanese Wines

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In an industry that marries heritage and nostalgia to trends, dynamism and modern techniques, there’s no doubt that winemaking in Lebanon continues to inspire both intrepid wine connoisseurs and avid tasters. With a thirst for knowledge, HN spoke to the renowned international Master of Wine Christy Canterbury to obtain her thoughts on Lebanese wines and market insights.

About flavor and uniqueness
According to Christy Canterbury, the best Lebanese wines compete for quality with the world’s best. “There is a very good command of classic, international varieties, but I am particularly excited to continue to watch the development of the local white varieties, namely Obeidy/Obaideh and Merwah,” the wine master said. “I think these are very exciting!” Canterbury believes that these original grapes allow Lebanese producers to make truly unique wines. In general, local wines are packed with concentrated fruit and character, coupled with an earthy savoriness, she said, adding: “They have an intensity that charismatically reflects their Mediterranean sunshine and rugged terroir. This intensity also reflects the pride of those making Lebanese wines.”

A rising trend
On a global scale, Canterbury believes this could be the golden era of boutique wines, describing these as “hip” everywhere, just as small, local producers and farmers operating in segments such as meat and poultry are enjoying their moment in the food industry. “Everyone wants to know where their food and beverage products come from and who makes them,” she observed. Canterbury noted that these more ‘intimate wines’ have a unique caché. “The more personal a winery’s ‘story’, the more people tend to connect with its wines,” she explained. “However, there is no question that larger wineries tend to be able to produce on a more favorable price scale, which makes them more accessible for most people’s budgets.”
Market penetration
Trying to position Lebanese wines on the global map, however, requires a more ‘financial approach’, according to Canterbury. She acknowledged that the predominance of international varieties means that Lebanon has to compete strongly on price. “This is one reason that I think that the indigenous white grapes are a godsend for Lebanese wines,” she said. “There’s a lot of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay in the world as it is!” When it comes to the clientele, Canterbury believes these wines appeal to open-minded, adventurous wine drinkers, who often fall into the younger demographic group, and those that are from or have traveled to Lebanon. However, she added that there is still much room for growth and a lot of markets to conquer. Canterbury also pointed out that despite spending time in cosmopolitan cities such as New York and having access to wines from just about everywhere, she’d noticed that outside of Lebanese restaurants, not much was available in the way of Lebanese wine, although, the price element was still an advantage. “Some wine stores, such as Astor Wines, have a reasonable selection, both under USD 20 and more expensive, older wines,” she said. “Generally, when I see Lebanese wines in a store, they are under USD 20. That’s helpful, as it gives curious imbibers the chance to try the wines without too big a price tag. As long as the supply is available, more markets will bring more global recognition.”

About Christy Canterbury
A journalist, speaker and critic, Christy Canterbury was the seventh woman in the US to earn the Master of Wine title. Her articles have been published in Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, and TimAtkin.com. Her appearances include ProWein, VinExpo, and the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair. Canterbury was the National Wine Director for Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group and the Corporate Beverage Director for Culinary Concepts by Jean- Georges Vongerichten, where she opened and managed restaurants’ beverage components from Istanbul and Doha to Vancouver.

Christy Canterbury

Christy Canterbury
International Master of Wine

“Use creative packaging, or least unique, modern labels, and back label descriptions. I think that showing a distinctive, Lebanese style is important in attracting new drinkers”

ON THE MARKET

SAINT MIKHAEL 2019
Expressive white dry wine made
with indigenous Lebanese grapes,
first cultivated centuries ago by
monks. Expressive nose, with a
pale and brilliant gold color. Fresh,
crunchy and round. The finish
is invigorating, combining fine
chalky astringency with bitterness
and 12.5% alc./vol.
ADYAR ORGANIC WINES
adyar.org.lb

EXPRESSION
MONASTIQUE 2014

This 2014 ‘new vintage‘ has an
intense color, while the nose
of red fruit notes is beautifully
expressive. Round and nicely
balanced with 13.9% alc./vol.
Grape Variety: 30% Grenache,
20% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah, 20%
Cabernet-Sauvignon
Well paired with meat.
ADYAR ORGANIC WINES
adyar.org.lb

CARIGNAN
A luscious and full-flavored
wine, Château Ksara’s Old Vine
Carignan celebrates the winery’s
Jesuit founders and the creation
of the modern Lebanese wine
industry.
CHATEAU KSARA
chateauksara.com

CHATEAU 2017 37.5CL
Made with Cabernet Sauvignon,
Merlot and Petit Verdot, and aged
in French oak, Château Ksara’s
historic, award-winning Château
red is now available in half bottles.
CHATEAU KSARA
chateauksara.com

KORAÏ WHITE
Zesty and fresh, this full-bodied
wine, made from Viognier and
Vermentino, has a big texture and
a sensation of oiliness, slightly
oaked with a touch of pear and
peach.. Toasted bread and a hint
of green apple, citrus and white
prunes, linger.
CHATEAU MUSAR
chateaumusar.com

KORAÏ ROSE
Red fruits, cranberry and passion
fruit, with a touch of herbal
essence and the deep fragrance
of jasmine and oregano. Full,
with crispy acidity and the clear
presence of citrus, alongside
plenty of depth in taste, it reveals
a lengthy aftertaste of peaches.
CHATEAU MUSAR
chateaumusar.com

VIN DU MARJE
RED 
2016
Deep, classy and rooted, from
the new brand Les Vignes Du
Marje. Created from a delicate
mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon
and Syrah grapes. An exciting
first-generation wine offering a
different taste and concept that
evokes its roots in Lebanon’s
deep southern lands.
LES VIGNES DU MARJE SARL
lesvignesdumarje.com

LE ROUGE DU MARJE
RED 2013
Also from Les Vignes du Marje,
which is located in Marjeyoun and
was launched in December 2018.
A distinguished wine featuring
an attractive mix of Syrah – aged
in oak barrels for 12 months –
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
that relays the richness of the
southern soil.
LES VIGNES DU MARJE SARL
lesvignesdumarje.com

COUVENT DE M
Grand and Premier Cru – the
winner of the Coup de Coeur
award from Patrice Frank. A
distinguished wine, which
is another offering from Les
Vignes du Marje. Relays the
sumptuousness of the Marjeyoun
vineyard. Combines Syrah,
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot,
aged in oak for 12 months. Offers
an appealing round texture and
elegance.
LES VIGNES DU MARJE SARL
lesvignesdumarje.com

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