In the past couple of decades, the sales of wines made with Chardonnay grapes has risen and fallen more than once. For many people, this green skinned grape was marred by a poor reputation for bland and uninteresting wines, a great shame considering the fact that Chardonnay grapes have proven time and time again to be interesting, versatile and full of surprises. Most commonly, fine Chardonnay wines are buttery, smooth and creamy as a result of malolactic fermentation, yet with hints of tropical fruits and orchard fruits such as apples and pears. What is most remarkable about Chardonnay grapes, however, is the fact that unlike many other 'white' grapes, they are exceptionally good at holding the characteristics of their terroir in the bottle. As such, despite their fluctuating reputation, this is one grape varietal which produces constantly surprising, impressive and varied wines.
There are few countries in the world with a wine history as long or as impressive as that of Lebanon. Indeed, the Phoenicians who once lived on the coastal areas of the country were amongst the first people to spread viticulture around their empire, and wine was being imported from Lebanon into ancient Egypt almost five thousand years ago. Today, wine production in Lebanon remains strong, with over half a million cases of wine being produced annually. In fact, the last decade or so has seen wine production in Lebanon increase enormously, with new wineries opening each year in the eastern part of the country, near the Syrian border where the climatic conditions are more favorable for viticulture. Whilst modern wineries in Lebanon prefer to use classic French grape varietals, there is an increasing interest in using native grapes, which are producing some highly characterful results.