The wine in question is made in the Bekaa valley of Lebanon and as a friend of mine is moving there soon I felt the temptation to visit and try it for myself was too delicious to resist.
Using the wine journalist and author of Wines of Lebanon, Michael Karam as my virtual guide, I started to research my trip.
Since Roman times the Bekaa valley has been known for its wine making and the famous ruins at nearby Baalbek house a temple to Bacchus, the god of wine. Lebanon is a small country and the valley like most other attractions of the country is within a couple of hours drive of the capital Beirut. The wine region is blessed with the ideal conditions for wine-making with hot summers, little rainfall during the growing season and diseases being rare.
My on-line researches revealed a serious wine-making industry although one that appears little known or appreciated in the UK but more information on the wine-makers can be found through the links below;
Chateau Ksara was acquired by the Jesuit fathers in 1857 and is now part owned by Druze politician, Walid Jumblat. Wine tastings are held in the underground caves that were discovered in Roman times when a fox being chased by a pack of hounds was seen disappearing into a cleft of rock.
Domaine Des Tourelles is one of the oldest wineries in the area and tours and wine tastings can be arranged in advance.
Massaya serves country-style lunches made with local produce by women of the neighbouring villages. In summer these are served under shady trees in the gardens, and in winter indoors in front of an open fire.
Cave Kouroum is an ultra-modern winery with a patio where wine tastings are held, and the lower parts of the building devoted to storing and aging the wines.
Clos St Thomas has a chapel dedicated to St Thomas and is open most days for wine tasting in the cellars as well as having hanging gardens and picnic areas among the vineyards.
Chateau Kefraya has been making wines for less than 50 years and its vineyards are planted on steep terraces. It has a rather smart looking restaurant where you can taste and buy its wines.
And for a little armchair tourism read this travel article from the Los Angeles Times to whet your appetite.
My planning showed me that a long weekend would perhaps be required to do the Bekaa and its food and wines justice. I can’t wait until my friend (herself something of a wine buff) moves there and then I can start to firm up my plans for some leisurely lunches and wine tasting.