Chateau Ksara is the oldest and largest winery in Lebanon. Established by the Jesuit Fathers ins 1857, Chateau Ksara has been making wine for over 150 years. We don’t get to try wines from the Middle East very often so when we were offered this sample of 2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent we jumped at the chance. Because Chateau Ksara is the largest producer from the part of Lebanon, Bekaa Valley, that produces the country’s most wine, we in the US actually have a shot at finding this 2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent on a store shelf.
About 90% of Lebanese wine comes from the Bekaa Valley. This is a sunny region with a Mediterranean climate – most of the rain comes in the winter. Nearby mountains create a rain shadow and the 240 days of annual sunshine mean ripe grapes. High altitude plantings (3000 feet) and the slope of the valley mean cool nights that help those ripe grapes keep their acidity. While there isn’t much rain during ripening, there is a water supply from snowmelt of the nearby Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges. A mix of low nutrient stony soils, creates a well drained medium for vines to root and struggle just enough to throw plant energy into the grapes. All of this adds up to a pretty sweet place for growing fine wine grapes
2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent – Tasting Note
This bottle was hard to open. The cork was so dense I could not get the corkscrew in. Mark had to help. Needless to say I don’t know how any oxygen made it past that cork and we soon realized the wine needed a bit of oxygen. It was purple and inky and smelled of concord grapes, vanilla, and dusty velvety pipe tobacco. It was dark and inviting but decidedly young. The palate was pretty tight and tannic. We decided to put a cork in it (a different cork the original one was not budging) and leave it on the counter overnight.
The next night we found the nose to be young but less inky. Before, the aroma was all primary grape, now it smelled of blackberry jam. The tannins softened and it got much brighter and the flavors were becoming more nuanced. Juicy and succulent, it was like a bowl full of blueberries and blackberries.
I think this 2013 Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent could age a long time and become very interesting. We did not have the willpower to give it another night of oxygen exposure. We happily polished it off.
My recommendation if you are opening it young is to definitely decant. I would get a few and open them over the course of 10 -15 years to see where they go.
We paired this wine with Lamb Stew. It was good but not a match made in heaven. The stew wanted something earthy and Old Word. This red blend from Chateau Ksara may get there one day but for now the blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon is dominated by a warm climate Syrah profile and reminds us of wines from Washington State. Perfectly lovely, just pair and handle properly to maximize enjoyment. If opening young I recommend Korean BBQ.
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