One Good Bottle: Lebanese Cabernet Blend

Todd Coleman

For 5,000 years, grapes have been grown in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, but making wine in modern-day Lebanon isn't easy. Just ask Sami and Ramzi Ghosn, the brothers behind Bekaa Valley's Massaya Winery. In 1975, civil war broke out, and the Ghosn family was forced to evacuate their vineyard. It took 17 years for the brothers, who were children when they left Lebanon, to return; when they did, they planted French varieties, which thrived on the high-altitude estate. Though regional politics have been a persistent disruption—in 2006, Ramzi spent 35 days huddled in a vineyard foxhole while Israeli bombs and Hezbollah rockets fell around him—the valley's clay and limestone soils, copious sunshine, and cool nights "surpass humans' momentary issues," says Sami. The terroir expresses itself elegantly in the 2006 Massaya Gold Reserve ($34), a blend of cabernet sauvignon, mourvedre, and syrah. Aged two years in new French oak, this deep-garnet wine offers a spicy nose, a mouthful of cassis, and solid tannins that give way to a languid finish. It's great with all types of grilled red meat.