Château Ksara. The oldest estate in the Bekaa valley, the Château Ksara will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year. This nice looking estate, with an arrangement of cement and steel vats, produced over 3 million bottles in 2011, and also has some stunning vaulted cellars, the culmination of any properly orchestrated visit to the vineyards of the Bekaa valley. A history and a patina that set the basis for French oenologist James Palge to direct his twenty or so grape varieties such one would an orchestra into three very distinct wine ranges. For his prestige blend – the Third Millenium blend – Ksara has picked a detail out of Veronese’s painting, The Marriage of Cana, that celebrates in full pomp, the fastuous marriage at which generous quantities of wines and dishes are served. Château Ksara, Zahlé, +961 8 801 662, www.ksara.com.lb
Château Khoury. The Khoury family once took the ambitious bet to go into winemaking, only to become the region’s «little favourite» just a few years later. A recent graduate from Reims university in France, 30 year old Jean-Paul Khoury talks about his grape varieties just as he manipulates them: in his own way! A captivating speech that makes for a rather extraordinary visit and surprising tastings. On the menu, two white wines (one dry, one sweet) and three reds (and soon a fourth) including the Symphonie, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah and merlot, full of character, branded with the colours of a painting by the Lebanese artist, Rita Massoyan Yédalian. Château Khoury, Dhour Zahlé, Tel.: +961 3 075422, www.chateaukhoury.com
Massabki Hotel .A small hotel reminiscient of a past that lives on through the black and white photos hanging on every wall in the building. The rooms are cosy and give off an air of family-run hotel, one that has really stepped up and played the charm card all the way. The garden is like a small forest that will provide shelter from the sun in the summer and smells wonderful with all the early autumn leaves. The result is a little place that exudes checked table clothes and traditional cuisine… from the four corners of the world! Massabki Hotel Chtaura, Tel +961 8 544 644, www.massabkihotel.com
Two families, the Gantous and the Abou Raad, started this beautiful estate in 1893, however their produce didn’t hit the market until 1947. The Wardys then purchased an equity stake in 1971 before taking the whole estate over in 1996. Nowadays, the Wardy estate focuses on its Arak, its seven red wines, its four whites and its rosé. A very nice and complete range, which is best savoured in the beautiful vaulted cellar in Zahlé, sitting comfortably on the deep cushions on offer. Take of note of the estate’s brand new monovarietal wine: a cabernet sauvignon with shades of chocolate, spices and pepper, softly rounded on the palate. Domaine Wardy, Zahle, Industrial City, P.O.Box 105, Bekaa – Lebanon, + 961 8 930141 – 930142 – 930143, www.domaine-wardy.com
With 80 years of expertise to rest upon, the Musar estate is the linchpin of Lebanese vineyards that has never stopped producing wine, even during the war. A permanence that has also allowed the region’s wines to carve a niche for themselves at the international level. Although the winegrowing landscape in Lebanon today is very different from what it once was and vineyards are developing at a rapid rate, the affect is continuing its work thanks to the great classics of the Musar estate. Of particular note is its appellation of the same name, the 2003 blend (cabernet, cinsault and carignan): a nice wine to put down, generous on the palate. A true reflection of the estate. Château Musar SAL, Baroudy street, Sopenco bldg, B.P.: 281 Achrafieh, Beirut, Tel.: +961 1 201828, www.chateaumusar.com.lb
Le Château Ka. The Château Ka could have been one of the oldest vineyards of the Bekaa valley today had history not decided otherwise. After a first production in 1974, the Kassalty brothers had to wait a few years to make a name for themselves…in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic “mixes”. Once their business was well established in Lebanon and throughout the Middle-East, the brothers remained determined to pursue their initial intention, and in 2005 restarted their winegrowing activities. To this day, the “Chateau Ka” label represents 70 hectares of land in the Baalbek region, 500 000 bottles and seven wines (three whites, 3 reds and a rosé). We recommend you try the 2007 Source de Rouge, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah, a wine that is fruity, spicy and round on the palate.
Château Ka, Chtaura Bekaa Valley, Cheberkieh Road, Kassatly Properties, Tel.: +961 1 899 888, www.chateauka.com