The wines of Château Ksara, Lebanon
Lebanon is making some pretty interesting wines at the moment. As well as old favourite Musar, there’s the likes of Tourelles, newcomer Ixsir, Massaya, Kefraya and this winery – Ksara.
Château Ksara are in fact the country’s oldest winery, dating back to 1857 when they were founded by Jesuit priests. The Jesuits ran the winery until 1973, at which stage it was making 1.5 million bottles. In 1898 they discovered two kilometres of Roman tunnels that became ideal space for cellaring wines.
Now, as well as being the oldest winery in Lebanon, they are also the largest. I recently had a chance to taste through the range, which is imported into the UK by Berkmann. They’re really good wines, offering value for money and plenty of personality.
Château Ksara Blanc de Blancs 2018 Lebanon
13% alcohol. This is Sauvignon, Semillon and Chardonnay. It’s quite intense with a savoury, slightly oily, nutty edge to the pear and white peach fruit, and has a touch of marzipan on the finish. Quite full flavoured, with a touch of cedar spice, too. 87/100 (£13 Whole Foods, Wapping Wines)
Château Ksara Blanc de L’Observatoire 2018 Lebanon
13% alcohol. Named after the observatory built on the winery by the monks in 1902. A blend of Obadie, Muscat, Clairette and Sauvignon. It’s fresh and zippy with bright citrussy fruit and a bit of pithiness. Juicy and vital, with nice focused fruit. Good acidity. 88/100
Château Ksara Merwah 2018 Lebanon
12.5% alcohol. This is from old vines of the local Merwah variety. Very fresh, lemony and precise with grapefruit and herb notes. Has nice fruit and a touch of pithiness, as well as subtle salty notes. Crisp and focused with good acidity, but perhaps a little compressed? 89/100 (£15 Wapping Wines, Whole Foods)
Château Ksara Sunset Rosé 2017 Lebanon
13.5% alcohol. This is textural and smooth in the mouth, with fresh cherry and redcurrant notes as well as a hint of sweetness, rounding things off nicely. This has good concentration of flavour, with nice sweet fruit and a dry, stony finish. 88/100 (£13.99 Novel Wines)
Châterau Ksara Gris de Gris 2018 Lebanon
13.5% alcohol. An attractive, grown-up sort of rosé that’s dry with a nice grainy, savoury undercurrent to the cherry and pear fruit, with a hint of watermelon. It’s a blend of the Grenache Gris and Carignan grape varieties, and the balance is really nice, with freshness as well as plenty of flavour. 90/100 (£13.50 Whole Foods, Strictly Wine)
Château Ksara Reserve de Couvent 2017 Lebanon
13.5% alcohol. A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It’s fresh and floral with some savoury leather, spice and dried herb character under the lush, smooth cherry and plum fruit. Has a supple, rounded mid-palate with some liqueur-like fruit, and finishes with a subtle savoury, meaty, spicy flourish, and some tannic structure. Lots of interest here. 90/100 (£14 Theatre of Wine, Whole Foods, Wapping Wines)
Château Ksara Reserve du Couvent 2017 Lebanon
13.5% alcohol. Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Deeply coloured, this has an enticing nose of spice, sweet blackberry fruit and some dried herbs. It’s exotic and spicy. The palate is dense and spicy with good structure and some oaky notes, with a firmness under the dense fruit. It’s peppery, meaty and quite intense, finishing dry and grippy. A distinctive, bold wine. 90/100 (this is an earlier note from July 2020)
Château Ksara Chateau 2016 Lebanon
13.5% alcohol. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot. This is concentrated and dense with sweet blackcurrant fruit, some grippy, slightly drying tannins, and subtle notes of gravel and tar. It’s a wine that combines ripe fruit (but not over-ripe) with substantial structure: it reminds me a bit of a super-Tuscan. Impressive stuff, with lots of oomph and concentration. 92/100 (£20 Wapping Wines, Wholefoods)