Château Kefraya highlighted in the August edition of Wine & Spirits
“Cinsault Rising” Lebanon’s search for a flagship red : great article by Jamal Rayyis. Wine & Spirits Magazine, August edition 2016.
Lebanon has had a more fundamental influence on wine than any country on Earth. It’s a bold statement, perhaps, and there are some, such as the French, Italians, and maybe the Greeks, who might disagree. While Georgians and Armenians were likely the first winemakers, it was the seafaring, mercantile-minded Phoenicians who spread viticulture and winemaking as far as Spain and Portugal, carrying with them both Lebanese grapes and Lebanese wines. Yes, the Phoenicians brought wine to France.
Cinsault, locally called zeitouni because of its olive-shaped (zeitoun) berries, tends to be darker in color, more perfumed, and more structured than French cinsault. In contrast, carignan, called “samsouni,” tends to have more finesse than its French counterpart. Both cinsault and carignan, it turns out, formed the foundation of the wine I sipped amid the gypsy dancers. Today, many producers rely on them for entry-level cuvées, like Château Kefraya’s Bretèches, Ksara’s Réserve du Couvent, Clos St. Thomas’s Gourmet Rouge and Domaine Wardy’s Les Terroirs, among others. All of these wines share a brightness and freshness, the red fruit flavors scented with fennel and orange zest and lifted by vibrant acidity. The varieties can also make more serious wines: cinsault and carignan, with cabernet sauvignon, are the basis of Château Musar’s iconic, long-living reds, as well as a component in Kefraya’s top traditional cuvée. For his part, Musar’s Sakr is positively thrilled by cinsault, calling it “an ideal bridge between human and earth terroirs. Unlike cabernet sauvignon, which imposes [its varietal character], cinsault is malleable, allowing you to produce different styles of wine, while still expressing its terroir.”
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Find also two great ratings of Chateau Kefraya in the same issue:
Chateau Kefraya 2010 – Comte de M 92 pts : Kefraya’s top red—a blend of cabernet and syrah with a touch of cabernet franc and mourvedre—this is sultry and spicy in its tobacco-scented fruit, the flavors all coming across in warm earth tones. It feels succulent yet reserved, an elegant, sun-warmed Mediterranean red.
Chateau Kefraya 2014 – Blanc de Blancs La Cuvee d’Ondine 90 pts : A blend of viognier with clairette, sauvignon blanc, muscat and chardonnay, this is broad and waxy, filling its texture with raw almond and pear flavors and some oak spice. It lasts, the firm structure suggesting that this will take on more detail with another year in bottle.