The chateau khoury story began in 1995. On the advice of French friends, Raymond and his French wife Brigitte el-khoury planted vines on their 15 hectares of southeast facing land at an altitude of 1300 meters. These lands on which the Obeidi (the traditional varietal for Arak) previously grew had been wild for about 50 years. The couple who lived between Mulhouse and Strasbourg for years has won their gamble of acclimating Alsatian varietals in the Bekaa. The Gewurtraminer, the Pinot Gris and the Riesling have unexpected nuances from the rocky soil which consists predominantly of clay and limestone. “One finds the particular quality of Alsatian varietals, but they express it in a different manner with a more exciting bouquet and a richer mouthful”. Jean-Paul joined his parents in working on the estate in 2005 after obtaining his French national degree in oenology from the University of Reims in Champagne. His wines in no time were listed in prestigious hotels and restaurants such in London and Tokyo. The vines are certified organic by the CCPB.
The Zahle Terroir
The location of the vineyard at 1 300 m in altitude ensures a fresher atmosphere then in the Bekaa Valley during the hot summer period. In this region of Lebanon, the difference in temperature between night and day can reach 20°. In summer, the average temperature falls between 25 and 35°C. The vine profits from ideal conditions of sunlight, with approximately 300 days of sun per annum. In winter, the minimal temperature can go as low as -10°C. From January to March, the vineyard is regularly covered by abundant snow fall.
Yearly rainfall is around 600 mm, accumulated over one short period from mid-October to the end of April. Underground water is composed of some minor streams which are difficult to collect. Water stress occurs at the optimal period of mid-colour change, during the month of July.
These characteristics of the climate have considerable influence on the vegetative cycle of the vine. Slower berry ripening is favourable to increased synthesis of precursors of flavours, polyphenols and anthocyanins. The result is evident in the quality of the grapes at harvest and in the harmonious balance of the wine.
The parcels are very close to each other and surround the château. The vines are planted on directly South-facing slopes, or on South-east-facing slopes, so as to benefit fully from the morning sun. The most commonly-found soil is clayey-chalky with chalk dominating; this ensures a regular retention and restitution of water.