There are days that are more memorable than others, when I set food in my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source of Livonia. I mean they are all great days, but the other day I had a chance to do a tasting with Etienne Debbanne of Ixsir Winery. Etienne Debbanne is the Co-founder and Chairman of Ixsir Winery. He holds a Master’s Degree in Agriculture from Reading University of the United Kingdom. He has a passion for wine and his native home of Lebanon, and he co-founded the winery with a group of friends. He is also a well-known business figure in the Middle East and one of the administrators of the Debbane-Saikali Group which is a majority shareholder in several companies and corporations. The best part, is that he was a charming, urbane gentleman who enjoyed talking about his wines, and he remembered plenty of past customers that came to taste his wines on a prior occasion, that unfortunately my Bride and I missed, but we made it a point to attend this tasting.
Some background information is that Ixsir Winery was founded in 2009 in the northern part of Lebanon in Batroun which is a coastal area. They are a mountain winery, and one of the highest in elevation for the Northern Hemisphere. The name Ixsir derives from the Arabic word “Iksir” the original Arabic word for “elixir.” History has recorded that man has searched for the perfect elixir for eternal youth and for love. The winery is very progressive and has been named one of the greenest buildings in the world. The winery owns one-hundred-twenty hectares in the Batroun with several different vineyards capitalizing on the terroir. The winery grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, Caladoc, Cinsault, Merlot, Obeidy, Viognier, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon. Quite impressive for a young company, as far as I am concerned.
We have quite a collection of Ixsir wines, but one of the most interesting wines, and I still have the three-pack intact is EL Ixsir Cuvee X’eme Anniversaire Red Non-Vintage. It was number sixteen of an issue of one-thousand, and the box held three bottles of this special edition wine as well as a beautiful “coffee-table” book The Wines of Ixsir. The EL Ixsir Cuvee X’eme Anniversaire Red Non-Vintage is a special bottling of three very recent vintages of their EL, which is their top cuvee and a blend of fifty-five percent Syrah, thirty-five percent Cabernet Sauvignon and ten percent Merlot. Each of the wines had aged for twenty-four months and then had been blended and aged in French Oak, of which half were new barrels. The concept of having the three bottles in the case was that the first bottle should be tasted in five years, and then at least ten years for the second bottle and the last should be held even longer. As a reference point, this wine was issued 30 April 2019 and the Wine Advocate awarded it a score of 93 Points and a suggest “Drink Date” of 2022-2040. When we tasted the wine, we were told that the 2014 vintage which was the real powerhouse of EL was leading this wine and it was big and inky and really overpowering; it was way too young and feisty to be properly enjoyed and there was real merit in cellaring this wine. I will discuss the six wines in the articles to come.