July 04 2011
Mark C O’Flaherty
On a recent wine tour of Lebanon, I discovered some wonderful robust reds that I would more than happily drink to the exclusion of most other nations’ produce. Anyone with even the most pedestrian interest in wines is familiar with Châteaux Musar, Ksara and Kefraya, but my big discovery was the production at the historic Domaine des Tourelles winery in the Bekaa Valley.
Fred Brugues, head sommelier at Sketch in London, had tipped me off about a revelatory red that he’d tried – Syrah du Liban – which hailed from Domaine des Tourelles. Sure enough, it was sublime. After a week of near round-the-clock wine tastings, my encounter with this wine shook up my tastebuds with its depth, complexity and sophistication. I bought three bottles at Duty Free in Beirut airport on the way home, ordered some more in London (£47 a bottle), and I’ve been wowing friends with it ever since.
If Syrah du Liban is for special-occasion suppers, then Domaine des Tourelles’ rosé (pictured, £14 a bottle from Borough Wines in London) is the perfect everyday wine. More than that, it’s the quintessential summer afternoon drink. In Lebanon, a bottle appeared at almost every lunch, and I’m now determined to keep my fridge stocked with it throughout the summer and take some to every picnic and barbecue that I host or am invited to.
It’s a blend of tempranillo, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and the Lebanese grape par excellence, cinsault. It’s dry and it’s got guts – it’s not a fey spritzer fodder, which I often feel so many rosés are. At the same time, it’s still light and straightforwardly seductive. If only it was easier to come by outside of Lebanon – there are just a couple of stockists in the UK. You’ll never find this in the supermarket – the production will never be large enough, and that’s not what Domaine des Tourelles is about – but it’s well worth seeking out.