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Our Latest Crush: Domaine des Tourelle, Bekaa Valley, Lebonon


Domaine des Tourelles was founded in 1868 by François-Eugène Brun making it not only the oldest winery operating in Lebanon, but also one of the most highly acclaimed. Producing wines, Arak and other spirits, the Brun family owned and ran the winery until 2003, whereupon two local families – the Issa and Issa el-Khoury families (lifelong friends and distant relatives of the Brun family), joined forces to buy the property and continue the fine tradition of winemaking. The dynamic next generation have introduced “the less is more” philosophy: no fining or filtering, small amounts of sulphur and the use of indigenous natural yeasts. These techniques along with fruit from 40 hectares of ancient, organically cultivated and dry-farmed vineyards (among the oldest in the valley) and a winery perfect for hands-off winemaking, make Domaine des Tourelles one of the finest boutique wineries in the Middle East.

Wines have been cultivated in Bekaa Valley for over 6,000 years: it’s high altitude (1,000m above sea level), southern location (further south than any part of Spain or Italy) and calcareous, gravel and stone soils encourage high quality production. However, in reality it’s hard to believe that any wine production happens so close to such intense disruption: Beirut to the east and Syria to the west: it’s Hezbollah heartland and the volatility of the security situation ensures the FCDO advises against all but essential travel. Whilst civil war has long been the background to the situation, the incredible Serge Hochar of Ch. Musar did so much for putting Lebanese wine on the international map, but now the name to be looking out for is Faouzi Issa, Managing Director and winemaker at Domaine des Tourelles.

An agricultural engineer by training who went on to study winemaking in France, Faouzi then spent time working for Domaine Renée Rostaing in the Côte Rôtie, and Château Margaux in Bordeaux. On his return home to Lebanon in 2008, he picked up the winemaking reins at Domaine des Tourelles and set forth to produce lighter, fresher wines that deliver a genuine sense of terroir. Here we see the magical triumvirate of knowledge, experience and history playing out in all their glory and the results are terrific!


2019 Domaine des Tourelles Cinsault Vieilles Vignes

Championing indigenous Lebanese grape varieties, from old vines, at high altitude in vineyards that survive snow, frost, drought and heatwaves with minimal pruning, no ploughing, no irrigation and consistently demonstrating that the resilience of the vine, winemaker Faouzi Issa is most definitely seen as a modern day pioneer in Lebanon. His 70 year old Cinsault Vieilles Vignes was a ground-breaking wine: whilst most of Lebanon only saw Cinsault as grape for blending with, Issa found a parcel that was perfect for reflecting the terroir, which has received international plaudits ever since its release. We urge you to try this!

 "This is so good that the nose of wine made me smile out loud. The first sip made me laugh with pleasure. Outrageously drinkable, and yet there are layers and layers. The acidity puts vivid relief into the contours of the fruit and flavours of the wine. Redcurrants and raspberries, a darker pop of ripe, sun-warm blackcurrants and sour-cherry snapshots, but under all this somehow transparent fruit with glass-bauble sheen, there is a taste of lavender, a lick of red blood, old terracotta roof tiles baking in the hot sun, Turkish delight, grenadine, thyme. Immensely complex, despite its jollity, despite convincing anyone not looking too hard that this is simple fun. This will age. It has the temerity of tannins, the backbone of acidity, and the trueness of fruit. Although I would not be able to resist drinking it now. It practically grabs you bodily and dances you around the room, singing 'Drink me! Drink me! Drink me!'. Damn delicious, quite frankly. Drink 2022 – 2028" 

2020 Domaine des Tourelles Red

Made with minimal intervention, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Syrah (40%), Cinsault (15%) and Carignan (5%) from 15-20 year old vines grown on sandy limestone with clay sub-soils, the wine is deeply expressive of its roots. Explosive aromas of cherries, cedar wood and rosemary are complimented with a rich, savoury palate combining earthy spice, fine tannins and lingering morello cherry fruit. The wine possesses enormous personality and charm. This is exactly the wine I’d like to have in my glass in front of a roaring fire!

2015 Marquis des Beys Grande Cuvée Pierre L. Brun

Produced from the finest parcels of red varieties, to produce their premium red named after the estate’s founder and to stand as an ambassador of Lebanon’s capabilities. In 2015, the cepage was an equal quantity of old vine Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon planted at 1,050 metres on gravel over clay, the wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts in a concreate tank and aged in French oak (33% new) for 18 months. Intense ripe dark fruit, smelling rich and generous in the glass. This is a powerful, savoury, distinctly Mediterranean red, with chewy tannins, bitter dark chocolate and cassis notes with a long, herbaceous and dry finish. It yearns for intense food to match.

GinBey Gin

Domaine des Tourelles is no stranger to producing spirits: Arak has long been a significant part of their history, they decided to produce a Spirit both modern and Mediterranean that demonstrates the domain’s dynastism. This premium Gin made from 14 botanicals, using the traditional base of juniper and coriander seeds with other ingredients such as citrus peel, mandarin, cassia bark, angelica to name a few (all sourced from Lebanon): part of the botanicals are steeped 24 hours before distillation in 400-liter copper stills which is heated by a steam jacker to keep the temperature steady. The more volatile botanicals of rose petal, pomegranate and Tilia petals are placed in a basket for a gentler extraction. After blending, the final spirit is rested in traditional clay jars giving it remarkable finesse and roundness. The delicacy of this Gin is completely unique and both honours and reflect their Lebanese roots.

Previous Crush: Montresor Bio, Verona

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