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Château Ksara - History of an aged wine - read the full article

Chateau ksara, the country’s oldest winery, began life in 1857 when Jesuit FATHERS inherited and began farming a 25 hectare plot of land to produce Lebanon’s first non-sweet red wine. In doing so they laid the foundations of Lebanon’s modern wine industry.

It is worth remembering however that Lebanon’s oldest winery is merely continuing a 5,000-year-old trading tradition. Lebanon sits on the site of ancient Phoenicia, one of the world’s oldest merchant civilizations and one of the first to sell its wines to other nations.

In 1972, the Vatican encouraged its monasteries and missions around the world to sell off any commercial activities. By then, Ksara was a profitable entity, producing over 1 million bottles annually and representing 85% of Lebanese production. When then order to sell came through, the winery was optioned to a consortium of Lebanese businessmen and in August, 1973.

The Jesuits accidental discovery of a grotto, stretching over 2 kilometers, gave the religious men a perfect storing area, which was not too humid and at ideal temperature . It is dug in a limestone rock and it is believed that the grotto dates back to the roman period but its use by the ancient civilization is still unknown.

The cave comprising 6 tunnels which cover 2 km under ksara , were discovered in 1898 and represent perfect conditions for storing wines, as temperatures remains between 13 and 15 C all year round.

40000 tourists per year wind down into the dark, dank grotto peering at ancient tools and bottles entombed in dust and mildew. The cellars contain approximately 900000 bottles ranging from last year’s vintage to a few final examples of the 1918 vintage.

Château Ksara was the first Lebanese winery to introduce “modern” grape varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay et al – into Lebanon in the early 90s, eschewing the sector’s traditional reliance on less fashionable grapes such as Cinsault and Carignan. Today, its vineyards are home to some 20 varieties of grapes for the production of red, white, rosé wines, vin doux (sweet wine) and arak.

At the top are the premium reds: Château Ksara, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot; the single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cuvée de Troisième Millénaire, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon flagship red and a blend Cabernet Sauvignon and Verdot. For its 150th anniversary in 2007, Château Ksara has created Le Souverin, a limited edition blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Arinarnoa aged in oak for two years, to celebrate the occasion.

Today, Chateau Ksara’s reputation as Lebanon’s biggest and oldest winery is secure. To produce its 2 million bottles, the winery harvests 2,000 tons of grapes from its 300 hectares at an average yield of 7 tons of grapes per hectare. This is nearly half the yield of some new world producers who, foregoing quality, happily harvest as much as 14 tons per hectare. For Château Ksara, quality is paramount.

The name of Château Ksara dates back to 1857, and has become associated with the three core values: tradition, nobility and modernity. These are emphasized through name and lineage (tradition); through a high-quality product (nobility) and the tremendous innovative advances made since 1991 (modernity).

- Chateau Ksara: >> View Movie << (2009-01-01)



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