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  • Writer's pictureWines & Vines

Chateau Ksara - Merwah 2017, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

“What grows together, goes together” is a true statement for pairing Merwah with the Lebanese Cuisine.

This is a story of an indigenous Lebanese grape variety that embarked on a wine journey embracing history through innovation in a terroir-driven style.

The Grape:

“Merwah” is the name of a white grape, a native Lebanese, spread over the mountains of Lebanon, typically planted on small terraces, where it hangs off pergolas and in backyards of old stone houses between olive and fig trees!

Some experts believe that Merwah is a clone of Semillon. In Lebanon, Merwah is a table grape--I grew up eating the grapes freshly picked off the vines--but I never thought that one day Merwah would be bottled with delicious flavors and aromas topped with memories of a precious childhood spent in the mountains of Lebanon.

Due to its low yield, Merwah is rarely produced as a single variety. Typically it is used as a blending companion to other varieties, but Chateau Ksara's innovative approach to wine-making marked history by being the first to produce this rare white wine from 100% Merwah. The wine is made from grapes grown on 60 year-old vines, planted on the hills of Douma village in north Lebanon at over 1,500 meters. It is dry-farmed, hand-harvested and vinified with minimal intervention, so the grape keeps an honest expression of Lebanon’s unique terroir.

The Wine:

This wine is dry, has pronounced aromas of lemon zest, blossoms, white peach, green apple, herbs and biscuits, balanced with gravel minerality, vibrant acidity, medium alcohol and a persistent finish with lingering layers of flavors. This is a delightful, refreshing, and special wine that holds within a rich history of traditions and innovations.

Chateau Ksara is the oldest winery in Lebanon. It was founded in 1857 by the Jesuit order, who began farming a 25-hectare plot of land in the Bekaa valley, home to one of the largest temples of Bacchus, the god of wine, and grape harvest.

The estate sits on a cave that was discovered in 1898 comprising of 6 tunnels covering 2 km underground with the perfect year-round temperature between 13-15C, a perfect condition to store wine and a testament to 5000 years of wine-making and wine-trading pioneered by the Phoenicians, one of the world’s oldest merchant civilizations.

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