French Connections

Every start-up enterprise needs a helping hand, and from its early days Massaya has been fortunate to have the support of two distinguished French winemakers. Sami Ghosn made the connection in 1998, first with Dominique Hebrard in Bordeaux and then with the brothers Frederic and Daniel Brunier whose Vieux Télégraphe estate is one of the most reputed at Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhone. Both Hebrard, who now heads an estate in Saint Emilion called Chateau Trianon, and the Brunier brothers came to Tanaïl and were fascinated by the Beqaa terroir and impressed by the work Sami and Ramzi Ghosn were doing. They recognized that Massaya was on the threshold of success and became both advisors and investors – from the start the Ghosns insisted on having them as investors to anchor a long-term collaboration.

Far from being limited to the role of financers, the French were quickly involved in the whole process of winemaking and wine commercialization. Over the years the relationship has evolved from business to complicity.

Now Frederic and Daniel are gradually passing on the leadership to the fifth generation of the Brunier family, Manon, Nicolas and Edouard, who joined the family enterprise around 2015. 

Unmistakably Lebanon has a very suitable terroir and a natural flair for wine, but nonetheless the techniques, the know how, and above all the consistency and dedication of the French partners truly boosted Massaya’s development.

By replicating everything the French were doing, we thought we would progress rapidly. However, experience taught us that in Lebanon both terroir and people are unique, so the copy-paste approach at times induced us in error.

The goodwill of our partners allowed us to rapidly correct our path. For example, the French partners insisted on removing the leaves around the bunches of grapes to improve the maturity of the grapes. But we found that in Lebanon this step is unnecessary: the intensity of the light due to the mountain’s reflection and the daily breeze that keeps on moving the leaves and allows the sunlight to reach almost every grape is sufficient for a perfect and even grape maturity.

After 20 years of collaboration, the French and Lebanese partners cherish working together and spending quality time cooking and tasting wines, often from small producers on obscure terroirs …. Elle n’est pas belle la vie?

 

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