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Lebanon tasting notes

text and photographs © 2012 Tom Cannavan

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


Château Ksara is distributed in the UK by Hallgarten Druitt. Telephone 01582 722538. See all stockists of Château Ksara on wine-searcher.

red wines

Château Ksara, Reserve du Couvent 2009
50% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Six months in one year old oak, after blending. Quite a bright, jammy, slightly lifted red and black fruit nose, a touch of mint chocolate. The palate has spice and quite robust, chunky tannins, with a big orangy, juicy qualities. Quite juicy and fresh, a little astringency on the finish perhaps, needing food. 84-85/100.

Château Ksara, 2008
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. 16 months in oak. Gentle, quite restrained nose, with a touch of cedar but the fruit pure and blackcurranty, very classy and restrained stuff. The palate has nice dry, savoury fruit and a certain lean, food friendly Bordeaux style. 87/100.

Château Ksara, 2006
A little game and vegetal aroma, a little fennel touch, and the lightly dusty blueberry and cassis fruit sitting nicely. The palate is very dry, the tannins, the spice, that slightly more vegetal character very pleasingly balanced, but for me lacking the purity and length of the straight 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. 88/100.

Château Ksara, 2004
Quite vegetal and there is eucalyptus and tobacco, but lots of dry dustiness and blueberries with some plum and cherry skins. That little touch of eucalypt is there, but the palate full of fruit and bursting, juicy black berries, a long finish too that is deliciously well balanced. 90/100.

Château Ksara, 2002
Masses of coffee and torrefaction, the blackcurrant fruit bold. This has a little gamy edge, a little drying leathery quality to the tannins, with delicious juicy fruit just sitting nicely, and the balance of tannins and acids keeping it long, spicy but focused on fruit. 91/100.

Château Ksara, 1999
Beautifully resolved nose, the combination of the black fruits, the tight-grained, lightly cedary oak and the mineral character is lovely. The palate has such a delightfully savoury, spice and cedar-spiked quality, with a real grip to the tannins and juicy acidity. This is perhaps erring on the dry side, but is such a lovely wine too with delicious fruit. Hard to say if it should be kept for 10 years or drunk, but another fine wine. 90/100.

Château Ksara, 1986
Still a very deep, dark colour. Syrah replaced the Petit Verdot at this time. Lovely meaty and swirling smoky nose, but not at the expense of some lovely black fruit. Spices and tobacco notes. The fruit has fine, lightly salty and mineral character, with the fruit fading just slightly now, but not without charm at all, whilst the slightly astringent finish, but delicious. 90/100.

Château Ksara, 1959
20% Cabernet Sauvignon, the rest Carignan and Grenache, from the time of the Jesuits. Lovely delicate floral and toasty notes, but still a lovely perfume, with a little lifted floral note and some delicate rose touches and still real life about it. The palate still has such beautiful fruit: very sweet, deliciously pure, with touches of brown sugar and still good fruit and the balance. Amazing clarity - a slice of history, but fantastically pure and unsullied stuff. 94/100.

Château Ksara, Cuvée de Troisième Millénaire 2008
20,000 bottles. 40% petit Verdot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 30% Syrah. 18 months in oak. Lovely nose: herbal and spicy, lots of pencil shaving and incense. The fruit is bold and fleshy, deliciously sweet and plump, with real weight and roundness on the palate, and the tannins fine and drying, with very nice balance. Delicious wine, beautifully pitched. 90-91/100.

Château Ksara, Cuvée de Troisième Millénaire 2006
Lovely spices and exotic incense-like nose, with pepper and spice and a lovely touch of menthol dryness. The fruit is so, pure and intensely cassis focused, but those dry, tobacco, spice and gently earthy notes surrounding it. Delicious long and focused, with really long finish showing delicate nuances and lovely length. 92-93/100.

Château Ksara, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Single vineyard at 1,100 metres in the village of Kanafar. Some slate and lots of rocks. Part terraced. Very bold, fresh, dark colour. A touch of menthol and a tight juiciness to the black fruit. Lovely fruit, very bold, very fresh, with softness to the tannins and a real sense of juicy plum freshness and succulence with some spice. Long, delicious. 88/100.

Château Ksara, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
The year of the Israeli war. The office closed and as there were no workers to bring in the harvest, so all office workers arrived in the vineyards. Terrific nose, with cedar and light spices over solid black fruit. The palate has lovely fruit and balance too, with the tannins quite refined and the juicy, mouth-wateringly pure and sweetness and ripeness still evident, just settled into a lovely harmonious finish, velvety and pure. 90/100.

Château Ksara, Le Souverain 2008
6,000 bottle. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Arinarnoa (believed to be a cross of Petit Verdot and Merlot). Has a dustiness and a blue/black fruit, incense and cedar, very classy Bordeaux style this, with real juiciness and Maintains that pure, black, very focused, very pure fruit. The oak adds layers of vanilla and spice, but the juiciness pushes through into a long, tapering finish. 92/100.

Château Ksara, Le Souverain 2006
Big, dry, dusty and meaty nose, damsons and blueberries, the palate very firm, with leather and tobacco and lots of minerality, the plum skin, spices, and big, bold charcoally depth suggesting this needs time. Delightfully confident, pure stuff. 91/100.

white and rosé wines

Château Ksara, Sunset Rosé 2011
"We drink this on the beach," according to Elie. 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Syrah, made as a Saignée. Pretty cerise pink colour. Slightly bubblegummy aromas, with cherry chapstick commercial brightness. The palate has lots of bold fruit, lots of cut and crunch, with good acidity and balance. 84/100.

Château Ksara, Gris de Gris 2010
Grenache Gris and Carignan. Very nice salmon pink colour. Lovely spice and gentle earthiness, the fruit nicely fresh and dry, a savoury bite with citrus and lemon peel zestiness. Delicious. 86/100. Most goes to the UK.

Château Ksara, Chardonnay 2010
Single vineyard, all barrel fermented then seven months in oak. Big, buttered cabbage and lightly mint humbuggy nose, the oak quite prominent, but lovely quality. Orange and lemon fruit bursts through on the palate, just a touch of green apple tartness and bite, and there is minerality here, with some spice too, the mouth-watering freshness good into a long finish. 89/100.

Château Ksara, Blanc de Blancs 2011
55% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Chardonnay (barrel fermented) and 20% Semillon. Gently mealy and custardy nose, the Semillon adding lovely lemon and waxy notes, with a broad, fleshy but deliciously fresh finish. Another lovely wine, with a tantalizingly fresh finish. 87/100.

Château Ksara, Blanc de l'Observatoire 2011
Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc and Clairette. Big Muscat nose, lots of flowers and fresh, bursting grapes, touches of peach and mango fruitiness. The palate develops a little more of the herby green crunch, and a very dry, very flavourful finish and has a nice texture. I drank a glass of this on the flight to Lebanon with poached chicken and it matched really nicely. 85-86/100.

Château Ksara, Vin d'Or 1937
Late harvested and fortified. White Grenache and Macabeu. Gorgeous fig and green walnuts, with delightful nuttiness and toffee notes. That lovely fennel note and some toffee onto the palate too. The delicious nutty breadth is all tempered by terrific acidity. The sweetness fantastically tempered. What a wine at 76 years old, medium-bodied and delicious and not lacking in any dimension. 95/100.

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