Varietals

The following grapes, most of which have been introduced in the last ten to fifteen years, are all grown to make wine in Lebanon.

Reds

  • Cabernet Franc is a red grape variety planted in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley that is also popular among the wine makers of north east Italy. A new grape to Lebanon, it is planted both in the Bekaa and in Bhamdoun.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon has, in the past twenty years, become Lebanon’s most widely planted grape (500 hectares – a quarter of the total area under wine grape vine – were planted between 2000 and 2005) and comprises roughly 40% of the country’s wine grapes under vine. It is used by all the major Lebanese wineries in blends and can be found as varietal in its own right.
  • Carignan has been used for decades in Lebanon, where, local producers say, it performs better than in France. It gives a beautiful dark hue, good acidity and high alcohol. It is used to structure reds that are destined for ageing as well as rosé wines.
  • Cinsault has been used to make wine for 150 years in Lebanon and today makes up nearly 35% of Lebanon’s total wine grapes.
  • Gamay is planted in extremely limited quantities for nouveau wines.
  • Grenache is widely used by Lebanese producers, for whom it can give wines with a high alcoholic content.
  • Merlot is a popular and important grape in the majority of upper and mid-range wines.
  • Mourvèdre is popular with a few Lebanese producers, who value its ability to contribute to well-structured wines.
  • Petit Verdot is used in limited quantities by those wineries who appreciate that it can contribute significantly to a wine’s ageing potential because of its high tannin content.
  • Syrah is a favorite with Lebanese producers, who value its longevity as well as its aromas and flavors of prunes, spices and berry fruits.
  • Tempranillo is arguably the most important Spanish grape variety and one that is popular with a few Lebanese producers.

Whites

  • Chardonnay is a relatively new arrival to Lebanon but has thrived in the Bekaa terroir.
  • Gewürztraminer is used in Lebanon in extremely limited quantities
  • Clairette has been a popular grape but is used less these days.
  • Merweh is a white Lebanese cultivar used in wines and arak.
  • Muscat is a white grape planted in limited quantities in Lebanon, where it is blended with other varieties.
  • Obaideh is a white Lebanese cultivar used in wines and arak.
  • Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile, highly acidic, grape used extensively in Lebanese white wines.
  • Semillon is planted in limited quantities in Lebanon.
  • Ugni Blanc was one of the earliest imported white grapes used in Lebanon, where it was used for wines, arak and other eaux de vie.
  • Viognier is recent arrival in Lebanon, where it has been blended successfully with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat to make premium whites.