The way a wine tastes, its “nose” or bouquet, its appearance and mouth feel depends on one thing – terroir. The term which comes from the French word terre (land) is what makes a wine what it is, and in a sense is the term used to explain the place and conditions in which a particular grape was raised: the soil, climate, terrain, and even surrounding microflora all contribute to create a unique terroir.
Like all wine, Lebanese wine made from grapes grown in different regions of the country display different characteristics. Here’s a glimpse into the four main wine-producing regions of Lebanon.
Fed by the melting snow that runs off the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains, the Bekaa Valley in the East is Lebanon’s most fertile farming area and also its most well-known wine producing region. The terroir is marked by its own water supply, long dry summers and mild nights. The soil in the Bekaa valley varies from limestone, to clay and even terra rossa lending immense range and complexity to wines originating from this region.
The mountainous Batroun region in the North is the second most popular wine-producing region in Lebanon after the Bekaa. The grapes here are grown at altitudes between 400m and 1,300m, with vineyards either facing the sea or located further inland. The region’s very diverse character makes it a hotspot for boutique wineries and distinctive wines.
The Chouf region – located South-East of Beirut – is characterized by its warm summers and mild winters, which render the grapes distinct in flavor. The area is exposed to the Mediterranean on its West and Southwest, and is located on calcareous clay soil that delays the ripening of the grapes and produces more acidic wines.
The South’s famous range of microclimates, along with its valleys and plateaus, give the region great potential in producing remarkably unique wines. Grapes are generally grown at altitudes that range from 600m to 1,300m in soils that also differ from one area to the next, producing exceptional wines.
Although a great number of the grape varieties grown in Lebanon are originally French (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, etc.) the country’s unique geography and microclimates lend Lebanese wine a flavor profile that is appreciated by lovers of both Old and New World wines.
Stay tuned for future posts which will delve in greater detail into the wines of each region.