We were coming down to the wire and a much-appreciated surprise was tossed into the mix, at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, as we were tasting wines from Ixsir Winery. Our guest host was Etienne Debbanne the Co-founder and Chairman of the winery and a pleasure to hear him talk about the wines. I also got to meet the distributor of his wines in Michigan, that I had learned about him from another winery in France. The world is not that large and it was a pleasure to be able to talk and taste wines in a casual setting. We are not talking about a large group with a sit down and a speaker at a podium; it was a man, our host, at a wine barrel converted to a table just pouring wines and talking about the wines, without losing a beat, as new people would show up. It was more of a family affair, instead of a cold-sterile environment. It was fun, as someone would say “should I get six?” and the response was “no, get twelve, they won’t be here long.”
The penultimate wine of the tasting was Ixsir Winery Grand Reserve Red Batroun, Lebanon 2013. The wine is a blend of fifty percent Syrah, thirty-nine percent Cabernet Sauvignon and eleven percent Arinarnoa. The wine has been aged for twelve months in French Oak, one third new, one third used once and one third used twice. I had to research the grape Arinarnoa, it was created in Bordeaux in 1956 and was originally thought to be a cross between Merlot and Petit Verdot, but further DNA testing has proven it to be a cross between Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is found in the Languedoc and now in Lebanon, it is being used. This wine was already aging and it was quite mellow, with a fine nose of dark fruit and spices, and the taste has already matured, layered and textured and still offering fruit and a nice finish of terroir.
The last wine of the tasting was the Ixsir Winery EL Ixsir Red Batroun, Lebanon 2016. This is a big wine and a blend of forty-five percent Syrah, forty-five percent Cabernet Sauvignon and ten percent Merlot. This wine was aged for twenty-four months in French Oak of which fifty percent was new and fifty percent were used once. It was an elegant deep purple/red wine with a nose of red and black fruits, with some spice and cedar. The palate is velvety and textured with a nice long finish of terroir that can be laid down in the cellar for some time. I thought I was done and then they added another wine to the tasting. We had a chance to compare it to the Ixsir Winery EL Ixsir Red Batroun, Lebanon 2014 and the technical information was the same. With the two additional years under its belt, the wine had an extra richness that only comes with age, and unfortunately most wines are consumed young, especially in a restaurant setting. The great news was that this wine was priced the same as the 2014 vintage and it was a real winner to me, that it could be enjoyed sooner.