Lebanon is home to the Temple of Bacchus, the God of Wine. Lebanon is also where Jesus turned water into wine. It’s also interesting that it was the home of the Phoenicians who traded wine all over the Mediterranean and mastered the winemaking technique 5000 years ago. So I suppose we should all be grateful to them. The most famous winery is the Château Musar from the Bekaa Valley region, which we have in Pinto Wines. However, they have many more quality wines that we will introduce to you over time.

  • In 1888, the Touma Family established one of the first wineries and distilleries in Lebanon in the small town of Kab-elias of the Bekaa Valley (45 kilometers from Beirut) , to produce wine and Arak Touma, which is now perhaps Lebanon’s leading arak brand. Historically, the settlement goes back to the time of the Phoenicians, but the name was later changed to “Kaber Elias” (tomb of the prophet Elias), as it was believed that the prophet Elias was buried here. The Bible reports of the Prophet’s ascension to heaven in a fiery chariot at the point where John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus later, but the tradition of the Elijah tomb has been preserved to this day, not only among Christians, but also among the majority of the Muslim residents. During the Lebanese civil war, many Christians left Kab Elias, as they did elsewhere in Lebanon. The Touma family also had to choose to stay or leave. It was decided to stay and continue to fight and work for a presence of the Christians on the ground. In 1997, an old school building from 1932 was bought and converted into the new winery. The attempt was made to preserve the character of the original architecture in the center of Kab Elias despite all the necessary refurbishment and renovation work and alterations. Bekaa Valley is a 40-mile-long and 7-mile-wide fertile valley which is protected from rain by the Mount Lebanon mountain range to the west, and from the desert heat by the mountains on the Syrian border to the west. It lies around 1,000 metres above sea level allowing for a significant diurnal swing between the hot summer days and cool nights. The treacherous road to Beirut over the top of Mount Lebanon is frequently closed in winter due to snow. The majority of Château Héritage's vines are on the lower south-east facing slopes of Mt Lebanon, just above the winery, which ensures they're well drained with great exposure to sunlight, while being slightly cooler than the valley floor vineyards. The estate’s top wine, from their best parcels of vineyard. FOOD PAIRING: Duck, red meats, and raclette.  
  • Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault from vineyards near the Bekaa Valley villages of Aana and Kefraya on gravelly soils over limestone. Planted from the 1930s onwards, yields are low from these mature bushvines (average age: 40 years):. The varietal components are brought together two years after the harvest; the resulting blend is then placed back in cement tanks before being bottled 12 months later. After 4 years’ bottle maturation in the deep stone cellars of Chateau Musar, the finished wines are released a full seven years after the harvest. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, Chateau Musar Reds are suitable for vegans; they’re also richly-textured and likely to ‘throw a crust’. This is a common feature of most fine wines and is especially true of Musar Red vintages over a decade old. Ideally, bottles should be standing up the night before opening to allow the sediment to settle. After careful decanting (and discarding of sediment, usually in the last centimetre of the bottle) the wine should be allowed to breathe for an hour and served at 18°C with roasts, grills (especially lamb), casseroles, game, and mature cheeses. One of my favourite wines and at somewhate affordable price.
  • Château Musar is located in the Bekaa Valley, in Lebanon. It was created by Gaston Hochar in 1930 when he was only 20 years-old and inspired by Lebanon’s 6,000-year winemaking tradition and his travels in Bordeaux. Serge Hochar, his son, started producing wines at the end of 1950. His brother, Ronald, joined at the beginning of 1960. In 1975, 97% of the production was sold locally. It picked up after the Bristol Wine Fair of 1979 and, in 1990, at the end of the civil war, the export accounted for 97% of the production. The 3rd generation of the Hochar family started joining in 1994 and is still a family-run-business. Musar Jeune White is an unoaked blend of Viognier, Vermentino, Chardonnay from youthful Bekaa Valley vines. Crisp and aromatic, this eclectic blend of French and Italian varieties has its own distinct personality – passionfruit, apples, elderflowers – and a dry, refreshing finish. No need to decant; enjoy chilled (10-12°C) with grilled fish, herb-scented roast chicken, seafood salads and spicy oriental dishes. All their wines are Organic.
  • Reserve Du Couvent is the backbone of the Château Ksara range, a ready-to-drink, medium to full-bodied wine, which owes its inspiration to the wines of the Northern Rhone and Bordeaux. Pair it with Sirloin, Lamb and medium strong cheeses. Ksara estate, named so because it was the site of a ksar, or fortress, at the time of the Crusades. The property situated in the heart of the Bekaa Valley, near Baalbeck, was acquired by the Jesuit Fathers in 1857 when it was already famed as a vineyard and they perpetuated the tradition of winemaking. No one really knows for certain when wine was first made in Lebanon, the Phoenician ancestors of today's Lebanese were certainly among the earliest winemakers. Later, in the Greco-Roman era, a wine cult flourished, as the ruins of the Temple of Bacchus at Baalbeck in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley bear eloquent witness. Ksara's natural wine cellar was a grotto discovered by the Romans who consolidated part of the vault and dug several narrow tunnels from the cave into the surrounding chalk. These tunnels were enlarged to their present size during World War I when the Jesuit Fathers sought to alleviate famine in Lebanon by creating employment. One hundred men toiled with picks and shovels for four years to complete an underground network of tunnels stretching for almost two kilometres (about 2,000 yards).The temperature in the tunnels is ideal for wine, varying throughout the year from 11 to 13ºC. Ksara came into the hands of its present owners when the Jesuit Fathers decided to sell the estate in conformity with the directives of the Vatican II synod. Having grown significantly since its foundation, vineyards spread around the Chateau’s complex which includes the winery, a tasting room/restaurant, and Lebanon’s first astronomy/observation tour. Located in the heart of the Bekaa Valley at an average altitude of 1,000 meters, vines grow without pesticides or herbicides. The soil ranges from chalk, to clay and chalk, to clay and limestone, but it is always stony. A fantastic wine that kept its value humble and therefore on the right side of the price comparing to some of other wines found in the area. Enjoy this unique and great find!    

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