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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 St Thomas (formerly known as Clos St Thomas) is distributed in the UK by Lebanese Fine Wines, Tel: 0208 8399272. See all stockists of Château St Thomas on wine-searcher

red wines

Château St Thomas, Les Gourmets Rouge 2009
Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Unoaked. Big cherry-ripe nose, with a ripe, plummy character and a slightly indistinct, if creamy and crowd-pleasing fruit quality, a touch of spice. Low tannins and acids. 84/100.

Château St Thomas, Pinot Noir 2008
Six months in third use oak. Ruby colour, dark but not dense. Slightly baked quality to the fruit, big creaminess, with some cherry. Spices and touches of that baked characters on the palate again. Good Pinot character though, and whilst that baked quality is a little off-putting, a successful wine. 86/100.

Château St Thomas, Pinot Noir 2009
Plenty of spice and plenty of cherry fruit here, a similar character to the 2008, but it is brighter, a little more briary and toasty too, but I like the purity of the fruit here and the finish seems long and harmonious. A lightness of touch here and again, excellent 'Pinosity'. 88-89/100. Should sell for around £17 in the UK.

Château St Thomas, Les Emirs 2008
Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 12 months in 70% American and 30% French oak, none of it new. Nice fragrance here, delicate spices and floral nuances, cedar and very evocative of Lebanon. The palate has full fruit, with a liquorice stripe of concentration, but masses of spices and peppercorn too, and quite a long, ginger-spiced warmth. Quite long and has structure, but copious creamy black fruit too. 89/100. (2007 in Nicolas)

Château St Thomas, Le Merlot A 2005
100% Merlot. The year Joe graduated, completing his thesis on Merlot. Very low yields of 20 - 25 hl/ha, aged in 10 months in new oak. Very dense, dark colour with a tinge of coffee. Velvety deep and rich on the nose, it has spices and incense and lots of deep plum fruit. It has really depth an quite impenetrable aromatics at this stage. The oak gives a thick layer of vanilla and coffee on the nose, layered over the rich, furry tannins and thick black fruit. There's plenty of spice and gravelly depth to this, chocolate, but it is the gripping, grainy tannins and the plum skin depth of the fruit that that pushes through. 91/100.

Château St Thomas 2007
Merlot 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20% plus Syrah and Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in new French oak. Meaty on the nose, with plenty of creamy black fruit and a solid blackcurrant richness and a cedar and Sandalwood savouriness in the background. The palate has lots of cherry and lots of firm plum and cherry skin grip. This is juicy and yet chocolaty too, in a big, creamy and youthful wine. 89/100.

Château St Thomas 2006
Another wine made in the year when the Israelis invade in July, and harvesting was a big problem. Big, very ripe and deep colour to this wine. Cedar and again a real meatiness here, with some roasted meat and hints of bacon fat, ripe and plummy fruit beneath. The palate has a flood of sweet, ripe, mouth-filling fruity with big chewy tannins and plenty of oak giving a huge scale to the finish of this wine, which is spicy, dense and full into the finish. Long and structured, it would be good to come back to this in a few years. 90-91/100.

Château St Thomas 2000
No Petit Verdot. A touch of mushroomy decay beginning, with a dried cherry and sweet stewed tomato character, with some herbs and some cherry fruit. The palate is soft and sweet, with lovely sour cherry acidity and a very nice drink. Probably time to drink this soon, but soft and delicious. 88/100.

Château St Thomas 1999
Rich and dark, with some oregano and nice cherry and chocolate character, has some maturity but not the slightly decaying character detectable on the 2000. The fruit is very fresh on the palate still, and extremely sweet and engaging. The tannins and acids are fairly lean and cedary and whilst there's a little chocolate richness, it has a long finish, perhaps showing a little more spice than fruit, but a lovely wine. 91/100.

white and rosé wines

Château St Thomas, Les Gourmets Rosé 2011
Syrah, Cinsault, Petit Verdot. The Cinsault is pressed, the others are saignée. Very pretty, delicate salmon pink. Nice raspberry and delicate strawberry bon-bon fruit. The palate has lovely fruit, with a hint of spice and a hint of sweetness, though I get a little sweet and sour note as acidity and a little alcohol kicks in. 85/100.

Château St Thomas, Les Gourmets Blanc 2011
Majority Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier - also 5% Muscat à Petit Grains. The Muscat has a profound effect on the aromatics, but with a herby and flinty Sauvignon character too and a broadening melon and pear fruit. The palate is quite powerful, with a lot of grip and rather tart sour apple acidity. It has plenty of character and crunch (no malolactic) from a higher acid vintage. 87/100.

Château St Thomas, Les Gourmets Blanc 2010
More of the green aromatics of the Sauvignon dominating, and plenty of ripe fruit, not so striking aromatically as the 2011, but streaks across the palate with delicious juiciness and masses of grapefruity flavour and acidity really keeping it fresh. The slightly lower alcohol (13%) is one of the differences here. 87/100.

Château St Thomas, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Green melon and fig notes and moving into the tropical fruit. Has real drive and spice on the palate, with lots of texture and weight and has a richness and bit of bite. 87/100.

Château St Thomas, Chardonnay 2011
Eighteen year old vineyards, fermented and aged in oak for six months. A sesame seed nuttiness, some orange peel and apple fruit. Just hints at more tropicality. The palate has plenty of bold, decisive fruit, with a cool fruitiness, but I get that slightly aggressive combination of acidity and tart green apple against a touch of coffee and tannin. Might be better with a touch less oak. 87/100.

Château St Thomas, Chardonnay 2010
Creamy, smooth Brazil nutty quality over custard apples and some ripe fruit richness, but on the palate the alcohol is a little intrusive(14.5% ABV) with some of that pithy lemon and grapefruit grip. 86-87/100.

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