Marsyas and Bargylus: wines from Lebanon and Syria

Sandro and Karim Saadé, brothers, have two vineyards. One is in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon (Marsyas), and the second is in Syria (Bargylus, on the slopes of Mount Bargylus near Antioch. They make wine from both properties with the help from Bordeaux winemaking consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt.

Bargylus is a 20 hectare vineyard at 990 m, facing the Mediterranean. The soils are limestone based, with some clay. And in part of the vineyard, there’s some flint mixed with the limestone. High diurnal variation and reasonably high rainfall (900 m) are features of the site. The reds are barrel aged with 30% new oak. The white is stainless steel (no oak). These wines are available in the UK from adVINture:

Bargylus Blanc 2014 Syria
13.5% alcohol. 55% Chardonnay, 45% Sauvignon Blanc, stainless steel fermented and aged. This is complex and layered, with good concentration, purity and freshness. It has lovely taut citrus fruit, with a really nice acid line and a sort of crystalline quality. Pristine and pure with a remarkable mouthfeel, and a touch of salinity on the finish. 94/100

Bargylus Rouge 2013 Syria
14.5% alcohol. 60% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. Spicy, savoury nose with a slight baked edge and some smoky, meaty hints. The palate is concentrated and quite dense with good structure and notes of mint and smoke and spice, as well as appealing black fruit characters. Very distinctive and complex, with some reductive notes as well. An intriguing wine. 92/100

Marsyas was established in 2005, and its 55 hectares of vines are on the alluvial plains of the Bekaa Valley at the foot of Mount Barouk. Altitude peaks at 990 m. The vineyard is planted to 80% red grapes and 20% white grapes, and sees 300 days of sun a year. Cold, wet winters are followed by hot, dry summers, with high diurnal temperature swings. The terroir? Compact limestone bedrock covered by 40-50cm of iron-rich red soil. One third new oak for the reds, stainless steel for the whites.

Available in the UK from adVINture:

Château Marsyas Blanc 2015 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
14.3% alcohol. 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Chardonnay, stainless steel. There’s a lovely balance to this wine, with some rich pear and peach fruit as well as some citrus brightness. It’s rounded and layered, with some tropical detail as well as a bit of mandarin on the palate, offering lovely pure ripe fruit with an almost perfect balance. Very appealing and more-ish. 92/100

Château Marsyas Rouge 2014 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
15.7% alcohol. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 10% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc. This is concentrated and ripe with sweet aromatic blackberry and cherry notes and some hints of raisin and tar. The palate is rich with lush, sweet fruit, some herbs and more of that tarry character. There’s also a slight baked note, and some nice leather, tea and tobacco character. Rich, warm and ripe, but despite the high alcohol it really works, and retains a sense of freshness and poise that’s quite remarkable in such a ripe wine. 93/100