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The wines of Massaya, Lebanon  
Part 2 of a series on Lebanese wine

Massaya is a French–Lebanese collaboration that began as recently as 1998. On the Lebanese side is Sami Ghosn, who was the owner of the Tanaïl Estate where the vineyards hail from, which is located at an altitude of 1000 m in the Bekaa valley. The French partners are an illustrious bunch Daniel Brunier (Vieux Télégraph), Hubert de Boüard de Laforest (ex-Cheval Blanc) and Dominique Hebrard (Château Angélus co-proprietor). The first release was from the 1999 vintage, and these are clearly wines that have a good deal of ambition to them.  

I was very impressed with the 2000 and 2001 vintages of the Reserve red, and the Selection 2001 was brilliant, too. They are forward wines that have plenty of upfront fruit, and are approachable young. If your only experience of Lebanese wines has been Musar, then you’ll find that Massaya is quite different. It will be interesting to see what happens to them with a bit of age.

Massaya Selection Blanc de Blancs 2001 Bekaa
Fresh crisp nose: fruity with some class. The palate is bright and fresh with good balance and a nice minerality. Good balance is the key here. Very good+ 89/100

Massaya Classic Rosé 2001
99% Cinsault. Quite deep coloured with a soft, herby character with a hint of sweetness to the fruit. Very good 84/100

Massaya ‘Classic’ red 2001
Really appealing meaty, spicy nose with rich chocolatey fruit. Really lovely meaty, spicy fruit on the palate. A soft-ish sort of wine but quite beguiling; in a modern style but with lots of character. Very good/excellent 90/100

Massaya ‘Selection’ red 2001
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Shiraz and Cabernet aged in one year old barriques. Very deep coloured. Perfumed, meaty, spicy nose with a lovely black fruit character, and almost an animally edge. The palate shows a good density of intensely savoury fruit. Very spicy and rich. Lovely stuff. Very good/excellent 91/100

Massaya ‘Selection’ red 1999
Quite evolved already, with a soft leathery, herby edge to the berry fruit nose. Nice density, but drink up soon, I’d say. Very good+ 86/100

Massaya ‘Reserve’ red 2000
A blend of Cabernet and Mourvèdre aged in new oak. Firm, exotically fruited spicy nose with a lovely savoury, meaty spiciness. The palate is firm and meaty with green olive and spice notes, together with some herbal, almost animal notes. Very distinctive. 92/100

Massaya ‘Reserve’ red 2001
Distinctive spicy, meaty, animal-like nose with chocolatey blackcurrant fruit. Nice spicy, gamey palate with lovely savoury structure. Quite a big, individual wine. Very good/excellent 92/100

Massaya ‘Reserve’ red 2000
Warm southern spices on the nose complementing the dark fruits. The palate is quite open with leathery, earthy spicy notes and some good minerally structure. Interesting, but I think I like them younger. Very good+ 88/100  

see also: Part 1: Musarathon - a vertical tasting of Musar spanning three decades

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