It was a delightful experience to be regaled by Etienne Debbanne, the Co-founder and Chairman of Ixsir Winery at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. Ixsir Winery is considered to have the finest terroirs in Lebanon from Batroun to Jezzine, and it is a mountain wine that culminates at 1,800 meters and is the highest mountain winery in the Northern Hemisphere. The grounds are clay and limestone soil, old respected lands only recently discovered and utilized again. The total area of the estate is one-hundred-twenty-hectares, and the winery also has contracts with other immediate vineyards, which they oversee all aspects of the lands and pays them to allow Ixsir total control of the vines for their vision and products.
The first wine that we tasted was Ixsir Winery Altitudes White Batroun, Lebanon 2019. The wine is a blend of Obaideh, Muscat and Viognier and was aged for three months in Stainless Steel. Obaideh is a Lebanese grape that has been used in blends, now being done as a varietal and traditionally used in the production of Arak, the famed Anise liqueur of Lebanon. Obaideh is high in sugar, low acidity with a creamy texture with notes of honey and lemons. This wine offered floral notes, subtle flavor of grapefruit with some spice, balanced and a moderate finish. A very fresh wine, that would be perfect to start off a meal or just nibbling on mezza.
The other white wine that we tasted was Ixsir “EL Ixsir” White Batroun, Lebanon 2016. This wine is a blend of seventy percent Viognier and thirty percent Chardonnay and was aged on the lees for twelve months in French Oak, of which a third were new. This was an elegant white wine with floral notes, a full bodied dry white offering white fruits and spices, and a nice long finish of terroir. A wine that would hold its own with opening courses or pairing with dinner as a stand-alone. It offered depth and complexity, that one expects from a good white, and I have been finding that Viognier is great for cellaring as this five-year-old was totally fresh.