Mis à jour : 22 déc. 2018
Remotely mastered to perfection...
It is true that Minn Wine La Wine is dedicated to promoting Lebanese wines but it is also intended to proudly promote high-end wines produced by Lebanese winemakers beyond Lebanese borders. This is, provided we have the chance to visit their domain or taste their wines in appropriate conditions.
And that was the case for "Bargylus" wines produced by Sandro & Karim Saadé.
Well this is a wine that I cannot not talk about, especially that I have been invited twice to an unprecedented vertical tasting of all white and red vintages of this delicious elixir.
"Bargylus" wines are typical terroir wines that trace and tell their story in time.
The wine estate of Bargylus is located in the backcountry of the city of Latakia in Syria on the cool limestone clay slopes of the Coastal Mountain Range near the town of Deir Touma. These mountains were known as Mount Bargylus in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. And back then great wines used to be produced in this region. This was in the pre-Islamic times whereafter viticulture stopped developing.
The Saadé family started acquiring plots of land in 1998 and end up consolidating 20 hectares in 2003, where they began planting their vines. The first vintage was produced in 2006.
Here the Saadé are producing wines of uncompromising quality giving primacy to the soil, an organic agriculture, a high plantation density and a very low yield per plant; In other words, highest quality standards for a high-end wine.
However, and even before the war, making wine in Syria has proven to be a real challenge for them, due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure. And it got even harder since the outbreak of the war.
In fact, unable to be on site, the Saadé brothers, assisted by a renowned Bordeaux consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, drive the Syrian team remotely.
Every year, their biggest challenge comes to determining the ideal harvest date. As they get close to grape ripeness, every 2 or 3 days the local vineyard team pick samples, and send them in refrigerated packs by taxi to Lebanon to the Saadé brothers for their analysis. This goes on and intensifies until the perfect date is determined and instructions are given to the local team to start harvesting each plot or grape variety at the appropriate respective date.
"Bargylus" vineyards, smartly planted, enjoy a very fresh micro climate with a marine influence which translates into late harvest. Limestone clay brings power to the wines, sweetness and sensuality refreshed by the sea air. The Chardonnay is, for example, picked up to an accomplished maturity. While the warmer stony soil and flint pebbles, of predilection to Sauvignon, dictates a pick up before complete maturity. In fact, the white pebbles that reflect a lot the sun brings more micro burn on the skins and sweeter empyreumatic (smoky) notes so in order to keep the acidity it is picked up earlier.
The Saadé then keep on monitoring the full winemaking and aging processes and up to the bottling.
That way the wine is grown, vinified and bottled in Syria and is kept in the property until a certain fulfillment before being marketed. Here comes the other problem of getting the wines out of Syria and to customers abroad. The wines are therefore shipped by sea, thru Egypt and Lebanon to a dedicated warehouse in Antwerp - Belgium.
Despite all these difficulties, the quality of this wine is very impressive and consistent with the highest quality standards. Elegant and typically Mediterranean, "Bargylus" truly reflects the identity of the terroir combining strength, minerality and finesse thru a range of aromas of fresh fruits and soft spices.
It is not surprising to see that "Bargylus" continues to expand its business in international markets such as Canada, Malaysia, Thailand and Italy while it is present and listed in top restaurants in Paris, London, Tokyo, Singapore and Dubai…
Vertical tasting of the "Bargylus" white vintages from 2007 to 2011
This type of tasting was organized for the very first time.
Actually, the vertical tasting of "Bargylus" white wines was a unique opportunity to taste the various vintages of the Domain, some of which are no longer available on the market, and to note the quality evolution of each vintage as well as the overall potential of these wines.
Going thru the vintages from the most recently marketed 2012 to the eleven year aged 2007 has proven consistency, elegance, freshness and minerality thru all vintages while each of them is in fact evolving differently:
2012 & 2011 begin to flourish, developing a mineral nose, white fruit and lemon aromas.
2010 elegant and round. Aromas of exotic fruit, grapefruit and salty citrus notes with a nice minerality.
2009 is a slightly solar and tannic with a little of bitterness.
while 2007 and especially 2008 are total blossoming. Close to the essence of the soil, round and fresh with a surprising intensity. White fruits aromas, slightly honeyed with notes of candied lemon. Very unexpected for whites of this region at their 10 years of age. A pure delight.
"Bargylus" white is a full-bodied, complex and aromatic blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Sauvignon Blanc.
Vertical tasting of the "Bargylus" red vintages from 2006 to 2012
While the 1st "Bargylus" red 2006 was made of a blend of 40% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot, quickly the following vintages were increased to a 60% Syrah with an equal % of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot at 20% each, aged 14 months in French oak.
A delightful tasting, an effusion of aromas:
2012 is of a sustained color with purple reflections, fresh and elegant with aromas of black fruits, melted tannins and balanced acidity.
2011 is intense dark, packed with ripe black fruits and sweet spices, cinnamon and cocoa. Full bodied with ripe tannins and a nice acidity.
2010 & 2009 were not present @ the tasting.
2008 Violet color. Aromas of black fruits, peppery notes and leather hints. Smooth tannins, long and well-balanced.
2007 Intense with purple reflections. Elegant aromas combining strength and finesse. Complex and long finale.
2006 Sustained with ruby highlights. Luscious black fruits and truffle. Mint & spices. Silky tannins. Long and sophisticated.
"Bargylus" Red is a beautiful wine, complex and rich with a long and gourmet fruity finish. It has a good structure with clear potential for ageing.
I greatly enjoyed discovering all vintages of both "Bargylus" white and red and I even more admire & appreciate all the efforts of the Saadé, producing and keeping this wine at the high-end level of quality wines.
It is definitely a wine that will always have a place in my cellar.