Lebanon’s leading winery auctions rare vintage fortified sweet wine at NGO’s annual dinner in London
Château Ksara, Lebanon’s leading winery, highlighted its proud heritage recently when a bottle of its Vin D’Or 1942 sold for £1,500 ($2,000) in an auction at the Human Rights Watch annual dinner at the Tower of London on November 20th.
“The excitement was palpable. We had no idea what value would the bottle generate in donations but it certainly captured the imagination of the bidders and it is clear proof that Lebanese wines from this period have a magical aura about them,” said Lama Sioufi of Human Rights Watch, who added that “the proceeds of the sale will enable our researchers to continue their meticulous investigations and to expose the world’s most entrenched human rights violations, while our advocates build intense pressure to make meaningful change.”
Vin D’Or is a fortified, sweet wine was made by the Jesuits brothers who founded Château Ksara in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in 1857. It would have been made with Grenache Blanc, Malvasia and Macabeo, having undergone Passerillage sur vigne before being fortified at mid fermentation and then spending six months in oak. The final wine clocks in at 16% ABV with 70 gms/litre of residual sugar. There are only a few hundred bottles left, all of which are stored in the Chateau Ksara’s 2km-long Roman caves, which were discovered at the end of the 19th century at the back of the winery.
“It was a very rewarding night,” said Dikran Ghazal K Château Ksara’s General Manager. “The Vin D’Or is one of the most historically significant Lebanese wines still in existence and a wonderful expression of the Bekaa Terroir. It does not only represents the heritage of Château Ksara and Lebanon’s winemaking culture, but it is also a snapshot of history, made as they were when Lebanon was transitioning from Ottoman rule and French mandate towards independence. They are quite literally history in a glass.”
Earlier this year, as part of its 160th anniversary celebrations, Château Ksara announced it would be releasing vintage wines from 2000 onwards from its Château, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cuvee du Pape Chardonnay ranges. Château Ksara has also indicated that it is willing to sell limited quantities of the Vin D’Or, as well as its Vieille Eau de Vie, also distilled in the 1930s and 1940s, to select clients.
The wines are being sold in London, New York, Hong Kong and Beirut. “We want to reinforce our institutional credentials and as well as show the world just how these wines can age,” said Zafer Chaoui, Château Ksara’s Chairman. “We also want to remind key wine markets of our heritage and role, not just in the history of Lebanon, but in the Middle East.”