Massaya Gold Reserve Rouge 2011
a full-bodied wine distinguished by hints of toast, cloves and spices. Beautiful ageing potential. Enjoy decanted.
Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Mourvèdre 40%, Syrah 10%
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
It seems pretty brilliant now, perhaps the best wine I've ever seen from Massaya. It is fair to say I was unkind to it. It opens with some velvet. The oak certainly affects the texture. Then the wine becomes intense and largely pulls in the wood with a half hour in the glass. It shows some hints of beef and game on the gripping finish. The Syrah and the Mourvèdre add welcome complexity on the nose and palate. It's focused and powerful, with a lot of tannic pop. It is notably better the next day. This is beautiful—and very young. Another year or two of cellaring wouldn't hurt, but it's not mandatory. This is built for the long haul. It's clearer now that it will age well, perhaps better than anticipated. Let's remain conservative, though. I won't be surprised if this again exceeds expectations after it has a few more years in the cellar. It is certainly still on the upswing.
Home of the actual, historical temple of Bacchus, which dates back to the middle of the 2nd century AD, the Bekaa Valley today continues to represent the center of Lebanese winemaking. Here summers are dry, nights cool and consistent rainfall provides an excellent environment for viticulture.
What today is known geographically as Lebanon, was the original home of the Phoenicians (approximately 1550 to 300 BC), who were sea-faring merchants and the first to trade wine as a commodity. Jumping to the Middle Ages (476 to 1453 AD), Lebanese wine continued to be of high value for Venice merchants, who sold it to the eager European buyers. But in 1517, when the Ottoman Empire took command in Lebanon, winemaking came to a halt. Christians were the only ones allowed to make it, and only for religious purposes.
The foundations of the modern Lebanese wine industry come from the mid-19th century Jesuit missionaries of Ksara, who introduced new varieties and production methods from the then French-dominated Algeria. Today French varieties still prevail with Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah as the main red grape varieties and Ugni blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Viognier as the main whites.
While Chateau Musar was the only producer to survive the Lebanese 15 year-long civil war, the 1990s saw an emergence of new producers such as Chateau Kefraya, Chateau Ksara and new investment from major French producers.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.