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What our expert thought of Château Ksara, Blanc de l'Observatoire




the tasting

The Tasting


The wine is a fairly pale straw-lemon colour, reflecting the absence of skin contact in the winemaking.
 
The colour may be restrained, but the pronounced wildflower nose is dramatic!  There’s orange blossom as well as wild flowers, backed up by ripe tangerine citrus and tropical scents of papaya and pineapple, along with a waft of sweet allspice.  Yet despite all that exoticism there’s a mineral edge that suggests the wine will be dry.
 
And it is, with just sufficient acidity to keep it fresh.  Though initially overpowered by the nose, there are fine citrus flavours here of orange peel and pink grapefruit, along with some ripe pear and lots of spice.  Although clearly unoaked it’s quite full-bodied, building in the mouth.
 
Grapefruit pith and white pepper spice are particularly apparent on the slightly bitter and notably textured, almost stony finish.  There may be just a little tannin here, but it helps to restrain the exuberant fruit and make the wine more food-friendly.


Assessment


The Muscat is in the driving seat here, with the other varieties consigned to supporting roles.  But necessary ones, because dry varietal Muscats rarely work.  Their amazing perfume isn't backed up by the palate, which can be rather thin; their acidity is usually low; and the bitter hint that was detectable on the finish of this wine becomes obtrusive.  They need to be sweet, and Muscat makes some of the greatest sweet wines in the world.
 
In this blend, the Clairette has provided crisp acidity to keep things fresh, while the local Obaideh has rounded out the palate and given the wine some weight to counterbalance that incredible nose.  The Sauvignon Blanc is harder to detect, but warm climate Sauvignon (which this certainly is) does tend towards passionfruit, so I suspect it may be responsible for some of the tropical fruit aromas.
 
The combination is distinctive and different, and reflects the unique history and character of the Bekaa much better than any me-too Chardonnay ever could.  Ksara have taken something of a risk with this one, and I think it’s paid off handsomely.  It isn’t hugely complex, and it won’t keep long (drink it over the next six months) but this is a wine with a sense of place, and there aren’t enough of those.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear medium- straw-lemon
Nose

Intensity pronounced

Aromas floral (wild flowers, orange blossom), ripe citrus (tangerine), tropical fruit (papaya, pineapple), sweet spice (allspice), mineral edge

Development developing
Palate

Sweetness dry

Acidity medium

Body medium+, backloaded

Intensity medium

Flavours citrus (orange peel, pink grapefruit), orchard fruit (ripe pear), lots of spice (both sweet and peppery)
Finish

Length medium

Flavours spice (white pepper), grapefruit pith, textured (tannin?), stony, hint of bitterness
Other notes
Unoaked. Muscat-led. Exotic wildflower NOSE. Very slight initial reduction, not enough to require decanting.


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