Domaine des Tourelles does not need much introduction. Founded in 1868, Domaine des Tourelles is Lebanon’s first commercial winery. The story began when French adventurer François-Eugène Brun hired by an Ottoman company in charge of building the Beirut-Damascus found himself in the village of Chtaura in the Bekaa Valley. Captivated by the plain’s landscape that reminded him of his homeland, he decided to settle and produce wine. In 2003 the last of the Brun family died and the estate was bought by close friends, the Issa and Issa El-Khoury families who took it upon themselves to safeguard the authenticity of Domaine des Tourelles. Faouzi Issa, the winemaker, studied agricultural engineering at the American University of Beirut before moving to Montpellier University where he obtained his “Diplome National d’oenologie”. He then trained with René Rostaing in Cote Rôtie before joining the legendary Chateau Margaux in 2007. Back to the now family winery he has instilled a new breath in Domaine des Tourelles, often described as perhaps “the most seductive winery” in Lebanon.
Today Domaine des Tourelles is as much about the roots of Lebanese winemaking as about its renaissance, a sine qua non step on anyone’s journey in Lebanese wines.
The West Bekaa Terroir
With 300 days of sun a year, the west Bekaa Valley terroir allows the grape to mature and the flavours to concentrate. The rainy season, with approximately 110 days of rain per year, is mainly limited to the winter.
Despite the very dry weather at high altitudes during the summer season, the vines do not require irrigation. In fact, the melting snow of the surrounding mountains provides water to the subsoil and forces the vines to stretch their roots to reach the moisture. This provides abundant minerals and terroir flavoring to the wines.
During the vegetative vine cycle, days are usually sunny and bright. The variation in topography triggers a constant breeze (fresh flow of air is key for healthy and evenly ripened grapes) that reduces the moisture level surrounding the vines making it difficult for fungus and disease to develop which favours organic agriculture in general.