Lebanon has been producing wine for thousands of years though with the conflicts in the region during the last century, the number of wineries fell drastically and it is only recently that it is seeing a surge in new wineries. There are now about 40 wineries, with an total annual production of about 7 Million bottles. As I've previously tasted only a handful of Lebanese wines, and primarily from Chateau Musar, I was eager to taste the Lebanese wines that were being showcased at the recent Boston Wine Expo.
The Ixsir Winery, founded in 2008, is located in the mountains of Batroun and produces wine from a variety of terroirs across Lebanon. Its name, Ixsir, derives from the term Iksir, which is the original Arabic word for Elixir. The winery is located near the ancient village of Basbina while the coastal city of Batroun was once known as Botrus, a Greek word for "grape."
The 2013 Ixsir Grand Reserve White ($24.99), a blend of 60% Viognier, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Chardonnay, spends about 5 months in French oak, 50% new. This is a more aromatic wine, with intriguing herbal and floral elements, with some pear and citrus notes, and a touch of spice on the finish. It is more complex than the other white wine, and also has more body. Though you could drink this on its own, it would probably go better with food.
The 2015 Ixsir Altitudes Rosé ($16.99), a blend of 66% Syrah and 34% Caladoc, is made in a Provence style, so it is dry and crisp, with more subtle red fruit flavors and a hint of herbal notes. Very easy drinking and perfect for the summer, or any other season. It would also be an excellent and versatile food wine, as Rosé usually is. Delicious and highly recommended.
The 2011 Grand Reserve ($24.99), a blend of 61% Syrah and 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, spent about 12 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. It is easy drinking as well, though with more complexity. Rich plum and blackberry flavors, mild spice notes, restrained tannins and a lengthy finish.
Have you enjoyed any wines from Lebanon?