Domaine de Baal, "Petit Baal" 2018
Syrah-Merlot｜Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Though Lebanon has been a significant wine region for literally millennia, there are only a handful of producers who have gone "mainstream" – probably the most well-known being Château Musar. The Bekaa Valley is the fertile heart of Lebanon's wine scene, with a history of winemaking to at least the 6th century B.C. – a temple devoted to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, still stands today.
Despite interruptions from sectarian strife and war, the future is bright for exciting producers like Domaine de Baal. Proprietor Sébastien Khoury spent many years in Bordeaux’s Saint-Émilion region, on the right bank, informing his uber-traditional approach and organic, hands-off winemaking style.
That Bordelais influence is fitting in his “Petit Baal” offering, a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Merlot. Vines are completely organically farmed, fermentations are from ambient yeats, and the wine is aged for 8-10months in neutral French oak, for a pure, unadulterated look into the high-elevation terroir of the Bekaa Valley, where warm days are moderated by cool nights at 1200-foot elevations, framed by mountain ranges.
Classic blue fruits from the Syrah interplay with fleshy red plum from the Merlot, with cracked pepper, warm spice, bacon fat, and a fleshy, silky finish.
Close your eyes when sipping this wine and you’ll get whiffs of a wild southern Rhône, like Vacqueyras of Gigondas, with its wild perfume and dark, brambly notes. The future is bright for producers like Domaine de Baal!