Chateau Ksara is the oldest and largest winery in Lebanon, and with over 150 years of experience it is not surprising that their wines win awards every year.
Winemaking actually began in Lebanon a staggering 5,000 years ago, and the Christian faith even cites Jesus’ ‘'water to wine’ miracle happened here. This rich winemaking history means it is not surprising that it is Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley that hosts the ancient Roman temple of Bacchus – Roman God of wine – rather than other more famous wine-producing countries.
In fact, Chateau Ksara has fittingly religious roots: it was founded by Jesuit monks in 1857, who brought the winery through the first 120 years of its existence, only relinquishing control to local businessmen in 1973. It was these monks who discovered the stunning underground caves that are still used to store Ksara’s wines and that are part of the reason it is such a popular visitor attraction for wine lovers worldwide. The monks were also responsible for producing Lebanon’s first dry red wine.
At the end of the First World War, the French were mandated to govern Lebanon as part of the Versailles peace talks. This meant an insurgence of French soldiers and civil servants whose palates were not used to the traditional sweet raisin-based wines of Lebanon, so the monks began to plant more French varieties such as carignan, muscat and ugni blanc, setting them in good stead for the Rhône and Bordeaux varieties for which they are now famous.
Incredibly, the chateau didn’t miss a single vintage during Lebanon’s war-ravaged years towards the end of the 20th century, and in 1993 it began planting cabernet sauvignon and syrah – the two varieties that now make up their ever-popular Réserve du Couvent wine.
Their vineyards are all in the central and western Bekaa Valley (Lebanon’s premium wine-production area) which gives them unique advantages: the surrounding mountains protect them both from the sea and the desert, and produce a microclimate of cool nights and hot days. At 1000m altitude, Ksara’s Mediterranean climate of rainy winters, mild springs, and hot, dry summers is assisted by a natural irrigation: water reaches the vineyard from melting snow on the mountains. French oenologists have assisted in guiding the chateau since 1974, and in the past decade they have helped introduce more modern vinification techniques and wire-trained vineyards, building on the already remarkable quality of their wines.
The Reserve du Couvent undergoes malolactic fermentation before being matured for 12 months in oak casks. The Rhône/Bordeaux clash in this syrah-cabernet blend is relatively uncommon, but its consistent popularity both in the top Lebanese restaurants and with our members proves Ksara definitely deserves its place as one of Lebanon’s most successful wineries.