Vinous Reverie Notes
Founded in 1868 by French ex-pat François-Eugène Brun, Domaine des Tourelles on the western edge of the Bekaa valley has changed little since its founding. The low-slung buildings topped with red clay tiles have an ageless feel, and behind the cellar doors, you will discover a working museum of 19th-century winemaking technology. The cement tanks used for fermentation and blending are original to the property and have a patina from nearly a century and a half of continual use. An ancient basket press sits in a corner as a reminder of a time when a vigneron was also a carpenter, welder, and machinist, as well as a farmer and artisan. That the estate survived the 20th century without having been completely remodeled and modernized is an absolute miracle.
Since antiquity, the Bekaa valley was famous for its grapes and wines. While only 30-50km from the Mediterranean coast, the valley is at an average elevation of 1000 meters and surrounded by mountains – Mount Lebanon in the west and the Anti-Lebanon range in the east. Both ranges are composed of limestone, sandstone, and dolomite, which has weathered to form heavy clays in the center of the valley where cereal grains are grown, and poor, gravelly clays on the edges where vines and olive trees thrive. Despite its southern latitude, its elevation ensures warm, dry days and cool nights during summer. In winter, the oak- and cedar-clad mountains are snow-covered, ensuring plenty of groundwater year-round. A testament to this ideal location for making wine, the largest surviving temple to Bacchus still stands in surprisingly good condition at Baalbek in the heart of the Bekaa.
What is exciting about Cinsault? As a variety, it is perfectly adapted to heat and drought. In its native France, it tends to be over-productive but in its adopted home of the Bekaa Valley, the conditions are perfect to keep its vigor in check. When fully ripe it retains remarkable floral aromatics and delicate but forthright red fruit flavors. Alcohol levels are moderate for a Mediterranean red variety and it preserves a high level of acidity. Yet despite all these characteristics, it also has a tremendous ability to age gracefully.