This Christmas, we're going to be shining a little spotlight on wines that we love from independent producers that are worth celebrating. These wines just hit all the right notes for us, and we strongly recommend you give them a try this winter.
This week our producer spotlight is on Domaine des Tourelles from Lebanon. Now if you think about Lebanese wine, there's one name that dominates the conversation: Chateau Musar. This iconic winery in Bekaa Valley creates unique blends that are similar to Bordeaux in style, but they have their own distinct character. Oh, and they age beautifully.
The interest in this winery has seen the prices soar, but it has also raised interest in Lebanese wine as a whole and given new opportunities to other excellent wineries in the Bekaa Valley, which is how to we came to discover Domaine de Tourelles.
This is a winery with a long and rich history. It was founded in 1868 by a French adventurer named François-Eugène Brun and was among the first wineries to produce wines and spirits using the local grapes. The Brun family ran it until 2003 when the last descendent passed away and the winery faced closure until two local families bought the property with the aim of continuing the tradition of winemaking.
They've brought a young and dynamic energy to the winery and have introduced the use of indigenous natural yeasts, no fining or filtering, and only very small amounts of sulphur. Their fruit is from 40 hectares of ancient, organically cultivated and dry-farmed vineyards which are among the oldest in the valley and they've become one of the finest boutique wineries in the Middle East.
Let's get to know more about the wines they produce:
This is a wine packed with flavour from Lebanon's Bekaa valley. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cinsault, this is fantastically expressive with aromas of cherries, cedar wood, rosemary and cloves. The palate is rich and savoury with lots of Morello cherry and blackberry flavours, some earthy spice and fine tannins. As an introduction to Lebanese wine, you'd be hard pressed to find better.
Try this with a spicy harissa chickpea stew or a lamb casserole.
Domaine des Tourelles have a 50-year-old block of Carignan in their Ammik vineyard in the Bekaa Valley. The fruit from here provides an excellent component for the acclaimed Domaine des Tourelles Red, but winemaker Faouzi believed it could produce great wine in its own right. The wine only sees concrete during production, being both fermented and aged for 24 months in his old but perfectly formed tanks.
Get it in the glass and you'll find a wonderfully generous and expressive red with an exotic mix of ripe fig, bright cranberry and raspberry fruit aromas with notes of liquorice. The palate has more beautifully ripe red fruit characters, alongside lively fig and date notes, whilst the acidity perfectly balances the generous flavours and leaves a pure, clean finish. This really stood out to us at recent tastings.
Try this with a grilled, marinated leg of lamb with grilled vegetables.
Here's a really interesting wine for those who like to try things off the beaten track. A 50/50 blend of Merweh and Obeidi - indigenous Lebanese varieties from low yielding old vines. The Merweh vineyards are over 100 years old and have not been pruned for the last two decades, resulting in extremely low yields and concentrated flavours. The nose has natural aromas of ripened grapes, apple skin and a mix of herbs and spices. Mineral and savoury on the palate, the wine shows notes of dried figs and fresh almonds on the finish.
Try with a Mezze feast with fresh flatbreads and bowls of smoky baba ghanoush.