Wines | Massaya


With so much that is different, it can be hard to identify something about Lebanon that everyone will recognise. To find an answer you need look no further than the plates on your table where the trio of hommos, taboule and baba ghanouj alongside the ever-present labne, unite our nation for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Beyond a universal love of these staples there is not much about Lebanon on which people will agree.


At Massaya we had hoped that wine, like food, could connect the country to a set of common philosophies and values. And yet, if you ask two winemakers to describe the wine identity of Lebanon you will be sure to receive conflicting answers. One will make the case for cincault while the other will favour cabernet sauvignon. When it comes to terroir, one will want to grow in the region of Kefraya while another will say Mount Lebanon is better. Let’s forget more technical questions such as oak ageing standards because each winery has its own approach.


The conventional way to resolve such differences would be to consult an independent expert; perhaps a foreign wine merchant with no allegiance to any particular vineyard. Yet even this may not yield a satisfactory answer. Take London, the largest export market. Here you will almost certainly be quoted the wines of Chateau Musar which have long had the strongest brand equity in the UK.

Of course, if you ask the same question in France, the second largest export market, the reply will most likely be influenced by Chateau Ksara which is the biggest seller by volume in that country.

Then if you check with the more recently established wineries in Lebanon, none will say they take inspiration from Musar or Ksara. They are definitely not trying to imitate these two big brands. Some merchants will say that Lebanese wine owe their influence to Bordeaux or Australia or Spain. It’s all very confusing.


Let us tell you where Massaya stands in all of this. Although we have partners from two famous wine regions of France, we don’t take our inspiration from either the style of Chateauneuf or Bordeaux. Our influence is our native terroir and that for us comes before anything else: the clay limestone soil, the dry summer, the intense luminosity, the daily wind and warm temperatures and the fragrance of the Mediterranean flowers and shrubs that grow in the mountains and the Beqaa Valley. And yes, we respect the land that produces those food staples of homos, moutabal and tabouleh.


After almost 20 years of growing grapes and making wine in the Beqaa and now Mount Lebanon we have developed our distinctive style.

We prefer the grape varieties that have a high ratio of juices to skin and a tendency to mature late. We prefer to search for a balanced texture and minerality in the wines rather than fruitiness or oakiness.

We prefer the Beqaa Valley terroir for our red wines and Mount Lebanon for the white wines. We prefer the more subtle foudre oak rather than the barrel oak and we prefer relatively fresh wines instead of extracted ones.

Of course these are not statements of a rigid business. There can be slight differences from year to year according to the weather and other influences. But most importantly, these are guidelines that reflect the fruit of our experience that has developed in the dust and sunbeams of Lebanon’s wine-friendly climate – and nowhere else.

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