Lebanese wine expert Michael Karam has kindly agreed to provide a guest post on Lebanese reds here. Michael has written two books: Wines of Lebanon and Michael Karam's Guide to Lebanese Wines 2011. The full article can be read on his blog.
Big Lebanese reds
I was recently asked byExecutive magazine http://www.executive-magazine.com/ to provide a list of my dozen favorite full-bodied Lebanese reds.
For those who missed it, here they are.
Comte de M 2007
This behemoth of a wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It has a deep cherry hue with aromas of black pepper and thyme on the nose. In the mouth there it has a wonderfully elegant structure and a smooth finish. One of Lebanon’s most famous reds, and deservedly so. The first Lebanese wine to be championed by US guru critic Robert Parker who was wowed by the ’96.
Le Souverain 2006
Initially made to celebrate the winery’s 150th birthday, it has stayed on by popular demand. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and the little-known Arinarnoa, it has a deep cherry hue with bell pepper and hints of figs on the nose. The Arinarnoa gives wonderful flavors of cassis and cured meats. Texture is silky, while the finish is dry and powerful.
Château Musar 2003
A celebrated label made from Cinsault, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon. All vintages are aged for seven years before release. The 2003 has a deep garnet hue and aromas of oranges and cinnamon with hints of berry fruits. In the mouth, there is a heady combination of peppers and fruits with hints of chocolate.
Château St Thomas
A gentle giant made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. It has an intense dark cherry hue. Nose of strawberries and cinnamon. Texture is soft and warm and the tannins are integrated to give a wonderfully balanced drinking experience. Older vintages age wonderfully.
Domaine des Tourelles
Syrah du Liban 2006
Possessing a deep cherry hue. Nose is peppery with eucalyptus and roast coffee beans. Possessing a robust texture with nicely integrated tannins, there a lot of fruit on the middle palate and the finish is powerful and sustained. Good aging potential but drinking now. Syrah du Liban won many admirers at the recent London International Wine and Spirits Fair.
Private Selection 2004
This elegant and suave wine is made with Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a dark ruby hue and an intensely smoky nose. Balanced in the mouth with a fruity finish. Good aging potential with well-integrated soft and velvety tannins.
Grande Reserve 2008
Ixsir is based in Batroun but has vineyards across Lebanon. Its top red is made with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a deep purple hue and a menthol nose with hints of black pepper. Forest fruits on the mouth herald a sustained finish to bring out the spices.
St John 2004
South Lebanon’s only producer (and no relation to moi). This gloriously playful red is made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. It has a black cherry hue with a nose of chocolate, peppers and other spices. In the mouth, the tannins have developed well and in no way obscure the abundance of fruits that dance around the mouth. The finish is sustained and memorable.
Note: These wines are not for what people like to call easy drinking. They can be drunk now but most won’t have reached their best for at least seven to ten years after vintage, assuming, they are allowed to age properly. They should also be decanted at least three hours before serving.