Founded in 1857 by Jesuit Priests, Chateau Ksara is the oldest commercial winery in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Fine wine making in Lebanon, however, goes back thousands of years. In Biblical times Lebanese wines were held up as the standard for all wines. And why wouldn’t they be? The vineyards in the Bekaa Valley are planted at higher altitudes. Some of Chateau Ksara’s vineyards are planted at 3600 feet. The 75 mile long valley has a Mediterranean climate with the viticultural benefits of a rain shadow effect from Mount Lebanon producing 240 sunny days a year for fully ripened grapes. Breezes are common in the valley, which, along with the moderating effects of the two rivers, the Orontes and the Litani and the big diurnal swing, from the 50’s Fahrenheit at night to the high 80’s during the day work to preserve the beautiful acidity of the grapes.
The grapes grown in the vineyards of Chateau Ksara are predominantly French reds such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Those are the grapes in their Reserve du Couvent, 2013. The wine is a deep ruby color with a garnet rim, very viscous with a medium plus intensity in aroma. The fruits are both tart and ripe, red currant, red cherry, black cherry and bramble berry. Intermixed with the fruit are aromas of fennel, clove, vanilla and charred wood. There is quite a bit of structure to this wine with a playful acidity and a meaty body, it is both juicy and harmonious. After tasting Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent it becomes very clear that to be compared to the fragrance of ‘…the wine of Lebanon,’ is high praise indeed.
*I was given this wine as a sample. It is the first Lebanese wine that I have had and I didn’t know what to expect, though I was hoping I’d like it. It was very easy to like, so well structured and lovely. Had I purchased it, I would consider it a great value, as it retails under $20.