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Lebanon

The latitudes of the Lebanon on the eastern Mediterranean coast may seem too low for high-quality wine production, but the Bekaa Valley on an inland plateau as high as England’s tallest mountains eases the temperatures considerably and can yield some very exciting red wines. Chateau Musar is the label best known outside the Lebanon and its bordeaux-like structure (filled out with much headier Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsaut fruit than the Médoc is ever likely to produce) was inspired by a visit to the Bartons of St-Julien. Whites tend to flab (although Musar is working on his) but some very respectable dry rosés are also made by producers such as Kefraya and Ksara. These last two are giving Chateau Musar some increasingly stiff competition. Chateau Kefraya’s oaked Bordeaux blended red is more than respectable and Ksara’s dry rosé goes perfectly with the fresh vegetables and powerful flavours of Lebanese mezze. A prominent declaration of intent is Massaya, a serious red wine enterprise backed by top quality St-Emilion and Chateauneuf expertise, but other new or renewed ventures to watch include Chateaux Belle-Vue, Khoury, St Thomas and Domaines de Baal, des Tourelles and Wardy.

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