Have you ever noticed how memorable a story can be?
Bring your experience of every bottle to a good end by asking about the story of the winery and that specific wine. By doing so, not only would you be able to appreciate the wine more, but you’ll also be able to make your winetasting experience much more memorable.
Interesting show. Several good surprises, some of which can even be called amazing. Overall Lebanese wine quality still on an upward trend.
Lebanese Wine discovery:
Chateau Marsyas red 2012: Amazing. Elegant and rich, balanced and fault-free. A bordelaise structure with no overextraction, no overoaking. The star of the classic red show. Buy Chateau Marsyas red 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/chateau_marsyas_red_2012_red
Sept Syrah 2016: Wooowww. An attack overwhelmed by velvety and super elegant tannins clearly engulfing and totally covering the structure with a transparent veil of lace; after having enjoyed crossing this golden gate, one discovers a beautiful array of pastel and oil colours with not the slightest clash in site. Akin to the feeling of Colombus discovering the American continent. Yet still very young, but with the promise of extreme greatness. Biodynamic and selective parcel vinification. A marvelously memorable experience. Batroun heights. Buy Sept Syrah 2016 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/sept_winery_syrah_de_nehla_2016
Vertical 33 Cinsault du soir 2015: totally unexpected. Is this wine or some sort of magic elixir. Never has any Cinsault offered this fine elegance with a touch of undescribable lightness combined with a fruitiness you'd think came from a newfruit of paradise. When I say unexpected i mean total departure from any previous conception of wine flavour profile. Is this a wine or a magic brew? Purists could complain about its extreme lightness combined with an unwinelike slight fruity sucrosity; they'd have nothing to compare it with; they would expect a layer of heaviness, a sting of bitterness, something to chew on. But no, nothing of this in this wine light and pleasant enough for any time of day, any occasion, any need to surprise one's senses. West Bekaa grapes. Buy Vertical 33 Cinsault du soir online 2015 https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/cinsault_du_soir_2015
Sept Obeideh: excellent. Feels like a concentrated thin straight line where you have to search but will be amazed by the mix of flavours you find within the rich and varied structure. It is flexible enough to pair well with foods of both higher or lower richness. Buy Sept Obeideh online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/sept_winery_obeideh_2016
Other very good discoveries: (in no particular order)
Syrah du Liban 2012: excellent, totally classic with an interesting syrah typicity. An unmistakably great lebanese red wine. Bravo Faouzi Issa, Domaine des Tourelles. Even better than the 2006 star. Central Bekaa. Buy Syrah du Liban 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/syrah_du_liban_2012_red
Qanafar red 2012: great follow thru after the very successful 2011. Definitely one of the great lebanese bordelais. Slight sucrosity but great structure. Blanc de Qanafar has improved and is vey good. The second red, Paradis has made a huge upwards leap. Buy Chateau Qanafar red 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/chateau_qanafar_2012_red
Muse rose 2016: excellent rose made from syrah monocepage. Elegance, faultless and no heavy acidity. Pity their white and reds are no way near the rose. Buy Muse rose 2012 online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/muse_le_rose
Tourba Petit Verdot red 2014: interesting and surprising as a monocepage; this varietal is normally added in very small proportion (typically 5%) to enrich Bordeaux style blends. Here, on its own its not bad at all. Buy Latourba Petit Verdot red 2014 https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/latourba_petit_verdot
Marsyas B-Qa: amazing second wine in both red and white. You don't feel it's a second wine with the red easily being the best at that price level. Buy Marsyas B-Qa online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/b_qa_de_marsyas_2013_red
Musar Jeune: in earlier years I had thought of this line as a wasted attempt at range extension. Not any more. It is now an excellent value line in all of the white, rose and red. A very decent entry level range that will not depreciate the Chateau Musar image. Bravo. Buy Musar Jeune online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/musar_jeune_white https://www.209lebanesewine.com/pages/chateau-musar
Bybline red: i could not avoid being attracted this year again by the amazing Musar-style Bybline. The same varietal blend Cabernet, Carignan, Cinsault planted in Wata Joz, kesrouan. It is a Musar near lookalike but with a bit less volatile acidity and brett effect. Those who appreciate the Musar style would enjoy it, particularly at half the price. Amazed it lasted 11 years. Buy Chateau Bybline online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/pages/chateau-bybline;
Karam rose: not bad at all. Faultless and interesting with any food. Buy Karam Rose online https://www.209lebanesewine.com/products/arc_en_ciel_2015_rose
Lebanese wines are definitely improving. There are much more quality wines than a few years ago. But the most interesting aspect is that new styles are appearing and this new variety of taste profiles and experiences is very pleasant. This novelty will not please everybody, particularly those fixated on Bordeaux style, but this extension will help attract a larger number of fans. I think it is great and the industry is going in the right direction.
Don't be surprised that I hadn't mentioned wines of Ksara, Kefraya or Ixsir . Not because I didnt like them, but because they were not offering their best at Vinifest: the two great Kefraya efforts are Chateau 2012 and the amazing Comte de M 2012, both of which were not offered; their entry level Breteche 2015 is not bad at all, but they seemed more interested in selling the label design than the wine experience. Ksara' s Souverain and Troisieme Millenaire seemed to be the same ones offered last year; their Chateau is more than decent but was not given enough boost. At Ixsir I eagerly looked for the fantastic EL 2012, but only the 2013 was on offer, slightly ahead of its top form. A brand that showed excellent follow-on to the philosophy of quality is definitely Chateau Qanafar where all the wines, without any exception, are improving vintage after vintage.
PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THAT THESE ARE THE PERSONAL OPINIONS OF THE WRITER, BASED ON HIS OWN SUBJECTIVE TASTE. I DONT MEAN TO DENIGRATE ANY WINERY OR OVERAPPRECIATE ANY OTHER.
Wine drinking is a multidimensional experience, and is savored by all our senses. The ability to identify the subtlest of flavors and aromas takes a bit of practice but only adds to the pleasure with time. The physical pleasures of the flavor and aroma of wine do also carry a psychological element. In fact, scents that are experienced with wine carry a science that falls back on your archived scents, a fact that renders the ability to identify aromas to be quite relative. The volatile compounds that you sense are similarly found in other fruits or foods that you’ve previously experienced. Interestingly enough, the aromas you identify in a glass of wine might not be the same ones someone else would first pick up from that same bottle.
The aromatic complex coming from wine is mainly due to the grape variety, terroir, and oak. Young wines are generally known to exhibit primary aromas that mainly come from the fruit; such as notes of berry and black cherry. When it comes to white wine, the primary aromas range between citrus to tropical fruits. Additionally, floral and licorice notes are also sensed in a young wine. Coffee, vanilla, or chocolate notes that come from oak are generally considered secondary aromas that come with the aging process.
A great way to pick favorites when it comes to wine is to know a few categories that are based on aroma (setting aside taste, body and color). One way is to identify whether the aroma you’ve identified is off a black or red fruit (in the case of red wine) or, in the case of white wine, a citrus or tree fruit. Based on the notes that you prefer, you can make your selection from the wines that are famous for carrying that specific aroma.
The aroma, though complex, is only part of the entire wine experience, and with time will only serve to enhance it. Keep this in mind with your next selection of wine from 209, and enjoy the discovery!
The Lebanese winemaking industry has been relatively active in the recent past, with a current count exceeding 40 wineries compared to just 5 in the early 1990s, and a current annual production of more than 8 million bottles. There’s also been an increased interest in wine culture in Lebanon as wineries have been reporting greater numbers of visitors.
Most Lebanon’s wineries are considered small-to-medium-sized and are known to place great emphasis on the quality of wine, thereby resulting in somewhat conservative quantities being produced.
In realizing that potential, 209 was created as an opportunity to further advance the awareness and consumption of Lebanese wine. As an innovative concept, 209 harnesses the power of modern-day connectivity by creating an omnichannel platform that generates remarkable exposure for Lebanese wines, to the Lebanese public and beyond, said Zafer Chaoui, President of Union Vinicole du Liban (UVL), whose objective is to consolidate and build on Lebanon’s image as a wine producing country by highlighting its proud history and promoting its potential.”
Wine production in Lebanon did take several hits in the past, but has managed to withstand and overcome those difficulties. Today it is poised to enjoy a bright future. It is only through investing in the winemaking sector in Lebanon that we will be able to make Lebanon a bigger contender on the international wine-producing scene.
So you’ve gone the extra mile to invite her to the hottest new restaurant with an unbelievably tempting menu. You confidently order your three-course meal and the sommelier hands you the wine list and asks you that all important question, “What would you like to drink with that, Sir?”
You can’t possibly freeze! God forbid she thinks you are a novice at this. So you confidently work your way down the list, pick a suitable (and well-priced option –somewhere close to the upper range of the popular choices is always a safe bet). Before long, you’re offered to taste the wine. Now what?
Don’t sweat. Follow these three steps and you’ll even impress the sommelier (and hopefully your date!)
1. Observe – hold the glass by the stem and give the glass a smooth tilt. (You’re doing this to check for clarity and color, in case she asks.) Cloudiness in a glass is indicative of undesired fermentation, so keep an eye out for that. Admire the color of your wine – a young red would be a nice purple-ruby color and veer more towards brown in a mature wine, while white wines go from a slightly green rim to further along the gold color scheme.
2. Smell – give the glass a good 10-second swirl to let the wine release its natural aromas. Don’t dramatically over-swirl – you definitely don’t want to blow your cover! Lean in for a quick sniff with the tip of your nose slightly surfing the top of the glass. A few descriptive words would also come in handy, so be on top of your wine-vocab game.
3. Taste – sip and move the wine around in your mouth (without looking too awkward) to appreciate the wine thoroughly. Tasting the wine is a three-phase process and so that first feel is actually an “attack” phase where you’ll be tasting tannins, alcohol, and acidity. You’ll then taste the flavors of the wine during the “evolution” phase (this is when you taste the fruitiness, earthiness, and so on of the wine), and why you’ll need to keep that sip of wine in your mouth. Now that you’ve gotten to the finish, you’ll be able to detect the “heaviness” of the wine (was it light, medium, or full-bodied?) and its flavor impression (was it fruity? Or oaky?)
Nod appreciatively and gesture to the sommelier to pour out a glass for the lady.
Done! Now you can sit back and enjoy an evening of fine wine, good company and great conversation. Just make sure you are a gentleman and top up her glass before your own!
We asked you to tell us what wine-related question you needed an answer to right now. Here are the top 6 questions. Keep them coming!
What does ‘terroir’ even mean?
Terroir is a French word for terrain (coming from the word terre meaning land). It refers to a number of elements that nurture the grapes from which the wine comes from. These elements include the climate, soil and sun exposure, among others. The terroir is one of the major factors considered when differentiating between wines of different regions (and let’s face it, using the word “terroir” just makes you sound like you know what you are talking about).
I’m hosting a party for my coworkers, what wine should I serve?
It’s always good to start with a good red and white wine (feel free to add rosé to the mix). When it comes to quantity, it’s safe to assume that every person is likely to have 3 drinks. A bottle generally serves 6-8 drinks based on how generously you pour – so you can do the math. There are a few other considerations to keep in mind when buying wine for a party. The rule of thumb is to go for wines that generally don’t overwhelm the food, and are lower in alcohol (possibly below 13.5%). You can also match wine to foods you’ll be serving on the day by using our search engine.
Why should I decant my wine?
Decanting wine helps on two fronts: separating sediment, and opening the flavor through aeration. The idea is to have the wine sit for a while to allow any solid particles that have formed in the wine to fall to the bottom, making for a clearer, sediment-free elixir you can enjoy. Contact with air also allows stronger tasting wines to mellow out and tones down tannins, making room for the flavors of the wine to shine.
Are the aromas and flavors added to wine?
No, the flavors in a particular wine is the magic formula created through the process of fermentation. The breakdown of sugar in the grapes releases a number of elements which we taste and which resemble things that we’ve tasted before. It is quite normal for any two people to taste different things in the same wine, and that is partly due to previous exposure and your unique palate.
Why does wine make my mouth dry?
Not to be confused with the “dryness” used to describe wine, the feeling of having a dry mouth is caused by the concentration of tannins in wine. Tannins are organic substances found in the grape and grape skin that have a slightly astringent, bitter taste (just like in tea). In wine, tannins give complexity and add balance. That said, not all wines have the same concentration of tannins, and that is partly why they vary in effect – from waking up your palate to causing it to pucker up.
How long will my wine bottle last once opened?
Once opened, a wine bottle would last a day or two. The best way to preserve the wine is to refrigerate it and use a vacuum to pump out the air, since the more oxygen is kept to react with the wine, the quicker the wine turns. Rich, red wines may actually taste better after a day of airing as opposed to white wines, which tend to go flat the next day.
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Like coffee, developing a more nuanced palate for wine can take time. But that shouldn’t put you off straying away from the tried and tested route. After all, your next favorite wine could be just a glass away!
If you are more of a social wine drinker, start with wines that are considered less complex – generally wines made from single grape varieties or a blend of two grapes are easier to get to know better.
The starting point to the discovery of new wines is to understand what you like. Once you have a few favorites and have identified the kinds of wines you like (full bodied or easy to drink? Crisp or fruity? Oaky or spicy?) you can start experimenting.
Looking to develop your palate? Here are a few tips:
1. Develop a “nose”: Sniff, sniff, sniff! Try and identify smells you are familiar with. Lemon, peach, vanilla… even leather or toast. You’ll be surprised how many scents you can pick out once you start paying attention.
2. Aspirate: It’s good form to slurp your wine… ok, maybe only a little bit. Sip the wine while sucking in a little bit of air and let it roll around your mouth in order to release its inherent flavors. Just like the sniff test, you’ll soon be able to taste more flavors associated with other every day foods and materials.\
3. Jot it down: By noting the different textures and flavors, you will start developing your personal wine reference – a trick that makes all the difference in really getting to know what you like.
Given the great diversity of Lebanese wine, it is always the right time to start experiencing new flavors and aromas, and discovering new wine producing areas. From Lebanon’s more famous wineries to little boutique producers in the mountains, you can start appreciating the amazing variety of Lebanese wine in an authentic setting – almost all Lebanon’s wineries are an easy road trip from the big cities.
Part of feeding your curiosity is to read up on some of the wines produced across the country. Some background information would definitely come in handy when tasting, but would also give you insights into a particular winery’s unique story. Stories of vintners and wineries explain vision, but also technique and character.
Want to try something new at home? Search through our wines , play with our filters to tell us what you like and we’ll recommend the best choices for you. And have it delivered right to your door!
Still unsure of what you’d like to try? Send us your questions and we will be more than happy to help.