Though Middle Eastern wine is something of a novelty in the U.S., wine is nothing new to this area; the cultivation of the vine goes back to the Phoenicians, who did a brisk business trading their wares along the Mediterranean Sea ports, introducing viniculture into many parts of southern Europe. Perhaps the oldest running wine concern in the region, Chateau Musar has been making fine wine 15 miles north of Beirut since 1930! These are reds of great character and subtlety, decidedly Old World in style. The grapes are hand-picked as the sun rises across the Bekaa valley and are then swiftly transferred to the cellar in Ghazir where fermentation takes place followed by maceration lasting 2 to 4 weeks. During the first year the wine is racked into Bordeaux type barrels made from Nevers oak and where it matures from 12 to 15 months.
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