Located in the Bekaa is a small village called Jdita, known for its fertile land, stands an old house built on the remains of a wine cellar. The house dates back to the Bronze Age and carries the rich history behind Château Nakad. With a passion for wine making, combined with the rich soil of the Bekaa and an inheritance of vineyard, this family business spans over three generations of winemakers. Château Nakad started their first production a Nakadine Liquor and excelled to making some of the countries best wines.
The story started in 1923, during the French Mandate, when Joseph Nakad helped lift the spirits of the troops of French contingent with his fresh and lively wines. Through time, his four sons took over the business and developed it into a successful brand with a comfortable spot among Lebanon's best wine companies. Today, Joseph's grandchildren, Jalal and Georges, guided by their father Salim, ensure the prosperity of their brand, creating a renowned name both locally and internationally.
In 2012 Jalal and Georges took their brand to another level, with an expansion overseas into Canada and London. Their Chateau which has won gold medals in 1998 and 2004 is now back on track after being halted for a while.
I headed up the mountains to meet one of the grandchildren, Jalal Nakad, a man with an obvious passion for what he does... Dedicated and determined, Jalal came back to Lebanon after perusing all the knowledge he could get on wine and wine making. A beautiful and eccentric house at the same time. It was the first time I see a vine plant passing through the ceiling of the house -inside the house. When the grandfather built the house, he didn't want anybody to touch his little baby. With an old vine plant coming from the basement, a house was built around it... It can still be seen passing through the living room. After a delicious breakfast on the balcony filled with flowers, Jalal took me around the premisses. Under their family house is a large cave of two floors. A basement used to stack the wines at low temperature and the factory built next to a natural flow of water used to cool down the fermentation process.
We tasted their wines starting with the smoothest up to their Chateau. The Nakad family currently produces three red wines (the Château, the Prestige and the Rouge Nakad), one Rosé, one Blanc de Blancs, one sweet wine and the Lebanese traditional anisette, Arack As-Samir.
- Vin Doux: Sweet wine (white)
This is a sweet fortified wine, made from late-harvested Clairette grapes that take the sun’s golden color, and have a greater concentration of sugar. Although it's unique and tastes honey and pear, this is my least favorite.
- Rosé Select:
Our Rosé Select is the fruit of meticulous work. It expresses an intense and complex aroma, thanks to the mineral soil and to the blend of noble grapes, Cinsault and Carignan. This wine is fresh and fruity and has some character
- White Wine:
The Nakad (Blanc de Blancs) is a blend of Clairette and Muscat. It is a refreshing dry wine. To be served at 10°C. It is low in acidity and is perfectly coupled with Lebanese cuisine which is high in acidity.
- Red Wine:
1. Château des Coteaux: It is the noblest red wine of their domain; a blend of the noblest grapes: Cabernet-Sauvigon and Syrah. It is aged 12 months in wooden barrels. The selection of very ripe grapes produces the high concentration of sugar and the beautiful phenolic maturity that characterizes this micro-cuvee. It has a rich nose of red fruits, dominated by notes of blackcurrant and candied fruit. The aromatic intensity and the complexity of this wine is reflected in its roundness and an exceptional long lasting taste, which have inspired its name: UNIQUE EXPRESSION.
2. The Prestige de Nakad: It is a full-bodied wine, a blend of noble grapes such as Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cinsault. To be served at room temperature. This prestigious wine has aromas of dark cherries.
3. The Nakad: (Coteaux de la Bekaa) is a blend of Cinsault, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Carignan grapes. It is fresh and joyful. To be served at room temperature. You can smell red fruits before every sip.
- Arack As-Samir:
Arack As-Samir is a special pure Arak, made from the best grapes of the Bekaa and anise seeds. It is distilled three times and aged two years. Ingredients: alcohol of grapes, spring water, anise seeds.
While trying the wine, I traveled back in time with Jalal to understand the history and passion of a family of artisans who have been producing fine wine from a generation after the other. This passion transcends from one generation to another with more plans to creating more unique products. Jalal tells me more about his latest creation: Afandello, which I have written a whole entry on.
Along with trying Afandello, I had the chance to be one of the few to try Chateau Nakad's latest invention: The Porto Wine, made in Lebanon. A premiere. Only 100 bottles have been produced as a start. A sweet wine full of taste, passion and aromas. It smells like dark chocolate and red fruits. A wine that is different from all other commercial labels imported into the country: A must try for connoisseurs. Port wine also known as Vinho do Porto, is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, most notably in Australia, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, and the United States. Under European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as port or Porto. A
fandello, PortoWine many other wine choices are on the menu. So much to learn, appreciate, smell and taste in this country... We should all take the time and appreciate what we have...