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Ep 328: The Wines of Lebanon

Wine for Normal People

Release Date: 06/03/2020

Ep 342: Jane Anson on her book Ep 342: Jane Anson on her book "Inside Bordeaux", a fresh look at this classic region

Wine for Normal People

Jane Anson, award-winning writer, the foremost authority on Bordeaux, and one of the nicest, most talented people in wine, returns to the show to discuss her opus, Inside Bordeaux, a must-have book that took years to research and write. It provides a comprehensive look at the region’s true strengths – it’s terroir, farming, grapes, and land, rather than pretty buildings and rich people. It's a fresh look at this famed region and shows why Bordeaux is and always will be a great wine power.

Ep 341: The Grape Miniseries -- Gamay show art Ep 341: The Grape Miniseries -- Gamay

Wine for Normal People

This week we return to our grape miniseries to cover an old Burgundian variety, one of the 20 kids of Gouais Blanc and Pinot, that emerged around the 1300s. We cover its fascinating history; we talk about how it survived defamation by Dukes, centuries later became one of the most popular wines in the world (Beaujolais Nouveau), fell from grace, and now is securing its place as a serious, multifaceted grape that makes complex, interesting wines (especially in its home of Beaujolais, France).

Ep 185, The Remake: 7 Types of (Non-Winery) Wine Clubs show art Ep 185, The Remake: 7 Types of (Non-Winery) Wine Clubs

Wine for Normal People

Of all the shows in the catalog, one has always stuck out as not really fitting in so this week we’re scrapping the old 185 and we’re replacing it with something that is related but more timely, relevant and just plain better!!

Ep 340: UK Wine and its Past, Present, and Future show art Ep 340: UK Wine and its Past, Present, and Future

Wine for Normal People

Although limited in availability, English wine is rising in popularity. Climate change, bedrock soil that's similar to Champagne and Chablis, and growers with know-how have changed England from a producer of mainly plonk wine into a viable wine nation, with sparkling wine leading the charge. Access in the US is limited, so admittedly this is more of an academic exercise, but in the show we discuss the history, as well as the present, and bright future of UK wine. 

Ep 339: Puglia, Italy -- New World Wine From an Old World Country show art Ep 339: Puglia, Italy -- New World Wine From an Old World Country

Wine for Normal People

In this show we tackle the heel of Italy’s boot (and the area that covers a part of the calf!): Puglia (pool-YA), which is in a transition from a bulk wine area to a quality wine area. Taking cues from New World winemakers, with whom they had a lot in common from a terroir POV, Puglia are modernizing and making better wines than ever before. We give an overview of what to try.

Ep 338: Glassware and Gadgets Revisited show art Ep 338: Glassware and Gadgets Revisited

Wine for Normal People

We haven't done a show on this topic for a long time, so here's the 2020 update. We cover what to look for in glassware, decanters, wine fridges, wine openers, preservation systems and more. This is the skinny on what you need and what you don't (and why!).

Ep 337: Feudi di San Gregorio and the Unrivaled Wines of Campania, Italy show art Ep 337: Feudi di San Gregorio and the Unrivaled Wines of Campania, Italy

Wine for Normal People

Dr. Antonio Capaldo, with his brilliance and razor-sharp humor, joins me to discuss the beautiful wines of Campania, Italy -- one of my all-time favorite regions. He is the Chairman of Feudi di San Gregorio and shares his insights on the region, its appellations, what makes the land and grapes special, and the bright future Campania has ahead of it.

Ep 336: Santorini, Greece and it's divine white of Assyrtiko show art Ep 336: Santorini, Greece and it's divine white of Assyrtiko

Wine for Normal People

Santorini is one of Greek wine's guiding lights. The wines from this ancient volcanic island are unlike any other – exhibiting fullness, smoky minerality, and acidity that you won’t find elsewhere. The whites of Assyrtiko are among the best Greece has to offer. The fascinating history and legacy of viticulture will transport you to this lovely Mediterranean paradise. In this show, we take you on the ultimate armchair travel destination: the island of Santorini, a Greek paradise!

Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer show art Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer

Wine for Normal People

Gewurztraminer is one of the most distinctive grapes and makes one of the most overtly perfumed, full bodied whites in existence. The lychee, rose, citrus, incense, and smokey notes can be intoxicatingly fantastic or WAY too much. We discuss the grape's origins, its diva personality, and how to get the best wine for you based on the style you prefer.

Ep 334: Hungarian Wine Overview with Zoltan Heimann of Heimann Winery show art Ep 334: Hungarian Wine Overview with Zoltan Heimann of Heimann Winery

Wine for Normal People

Zoltán Heimann has much to teach us about Hungarian wine. He joins to help me present Hungary's wines, keep me on task with the proper pronunciations (the reason it’s taken me so long to cover this country, honestly!), and to give us an overview of what we can expect from Hungary -- including grapes and regions from Tokaji to Villány to Sopron and more. To end, we focus on Zoltan's beloved region of Szekszárd (sex-ARD), known mostly for its famous Kadarka red wine, of which he is a huge champion.

More Episodes

With a history that stretches back perhaps 9,000 years to 7,000 B.C., Lebanon contains some of the original winemaking areas. In spite of political turmoil, violence, and opposition to wine (and all alcohol) and winemaking, this country has always found a way to keep production alive. Its unlikely location and small size may seem, at first glance, to be an impossibility for quality wine but the geography and the fortitude of the people here have created a unique and enduring wine culture.

In the show we discuss the long history of Lebanon in wine -- from the Phoenicians, to the Greeks and Romans, monks, and then to the French, who had such a huge influence in their 30 year tie to this region between World War I and World War II.

Below are some notes on the climate, the spellings of the regions, and the producers we mention:

  • Lebanon is only about 150 miles long and 60 wide but it is extremely varied in terms of altitude and topography -- with beaches, hills, and high, snow-capped mountains all contained within. 
    • It is at 33.5˚N latitude, about the same as Margaret River in Australia, and within the traditional grape growing band of 30˚-50˚ latitude (north or south)
    • There are four main geographic regions: the coastal plain, the Mount Lebanon range (altitudes of nearly 10,000 feet), the Bekaa Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Range
    • Most wine producers are in the western Bekaa but some are experimenting with new terroir in Batroun and  areas in the Eastern Bekaa
  • The key to good wine in Lebanon is altitude: The Bekaa Valley has altitude of around 1,000m/3,820ft. This is a plateau but there is a moderating influence of Mount Lebanon and the area has snowmelt and rain runoff from the mountain to provide ample water for grapes
  • The soils are colluvial (runoff from mountains) so they are divers and contain limestone, clay/loam, stones, gravel and some red terra rossa soil similar to Coonawarra in South Australia

  • Climate is Mediterranean, with long, dry and often very hot summers. The mountains and valley get very cold at night and the diurnal temperature swings are so dramatic that grapes can maintain acidity if grown in the right places 
  • The Wines:

    • Only about 2,000 ha/4,942 acres are cultivated and yields are extremely low

    • The main reds are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault (the grape with the longest heritage), Carignan, Grenache, with Merlot, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir

    • The main whites are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Muscat, Clairette, and Riesling along with indigenous grapes Merwah and Obaideh

    • The wines have always been known for excellent fragrance, spice, and a sweet aroma (but not flavor)
    • French influence is everywhere in these wines-- some of the top wine producers from France consult for wineries in Lebanon and help craft the wines of the top producers


Top Producers are:

Above: Ixsir

Most of these wines are around USD$20! They are worth a try! 



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