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Lebanon tasting notes

text and photographs © 2012 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Wines of Lebanon.


IXSIR is distributed in the UK by Entoria Winecellars. Tel: 020 8961 4411. See all stockists of IXSIR on wine-searcher.

red wines

IXSIR, Altitude Rouge 2009
A blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Syrah, 26% Caladoc and 17% Tempranillo. Just a little bit of barrel component here. What a lovely nose, absolutely intense aromatics, with creamy black fruit aplenty, but some perfume of old roses and kirsch-like black cherry. Hints of mint and garrigue-like herbs. The palate is soft and voluptuous, adding to the easy drinking creaminess. It is perhaps just nearing over maturity, with soft tannins and a maturing style. 86-87/100

IXSIR, Grande Reserve Red 2009
Syrah (61%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (39%) spends 12 months in French oak, 60% new and 40% second fill. Still very aromatic, adding a layer of spice and pepper to the creamy black fruit, but quite tightly defined and has a touch of earthiness and minerality. The palate has lovely fruit, approachable, richly textured and full, but a big drying core of tannin adds grip and weight, and is much grippier with plum skins and liquorice adding to the juicy structure of the finish. Serious, and nicely alive. 90/100.

IXSIR, Mystery wine 2009
The name of this mystery wine is currently being registered so I was asked not to publish it. It will be the top wine of the estate. A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot it has a powerful nose with kirsch and liquorice and some nutty notes, with lots of spices and peppery components and a really pure fruit character. The palate at this stage is hugely tight and concentrated, with a cedary edge to the fruit, the smokiness of the oak supporting crunchy, vivid, very pure and tight black. Lots of cassis ripeness and glossy purity, but grippy too and the oak not overdone. 91-92/100.

white and rosé wines

IXSIR, Altitude White 2011
Muscat, Viognier, Sauvignon and Sémillon (finished wine, but not bottled). A touch of sulphur at this stage that blows off to reveal powerful aromatics, the Muscat and Viognier adding lots of Spring flower top notes, some waxy and passionfruit character coming through and some herby, green notes. The palate has a rich texture, with the Muscat full and dry, the Sauvignon (though only 15%) adding lots of punch and the Viognier adding palate weight and texture. A very impressive, modern wine and punchy too. 88-89/100.

IXSIR, Grande Reserve White 2011
Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, this finished fermentation in barrel then spent five months in 400-litre French oak barrels, 50% new. Lovely, buttery richness to the nose, with plenty of oak, but not too much as the succulent pear and almost tropical, pineapple ripeness come through. The palate has a huge citrus core of pithy grapefruit and lime, really focused and juicy, with a really nutty background. The juicy, fresh, aromatic and exotic character is still there, giving this a nice balance of opulence and firm, crisp structure. Will be better in a few months once the oak settles, but terrific quality. 89-90/100.

IXSIR, Altitudes Rosé 2011
Syrah and Caladoc, with a very pleasing, pale salmon pink colour with a peachy tinge. Intensely aromatic, with lots of floral, rose-like perfume, a little bubblegum, but very pleasing red fruits. On the palate dry and delightfully balanced, with a big core of citrus and plenty of raspberry and cherry fruit. A little hint of spice and tannin adds some grip. Not a saignée of the red - planted and made exclusively as a rosé. 88/100.

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