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Triumph for Lebanese winery as rosé lands UK listing

The recipient of the ‘Best Rosé of the World’ award 2021 is about to debut in the UK, and it’s as far from a Provence pink as you can get.

Earlier this month, the drinks business reported that Lebanese winemakers are pinning everything on exports to stay afloat as the economy in Lebanon reaches ever more dire conditions.

Jad Esta, CEO of Lebanese producer IXSIR, issued a heartfelt call to the international wine community to support the country’s winemakers with listings.

“In the current crisis, the only way that Lebanese wineries can survive is through exports,” he said. “We are calling on all the wineries in Lebanon to join us as a united front to present our wines to foreign markets.”

db is pleased to announce that IXSIR has now secured a UK distributor for its Grande Réserve Rosé 2021 for the first time. The premium pink will be available through Enotria & Coe, with cases expected to arrive “within weeks”.

Priced at £25.50, it’s no small sum to invest in a rosé, but Richard Lewis of Enotria says it’s a complex and gastronomic drop well worth forking out for.

“This pink has been recognised as the best rosé in the world at the BWW Best Rosé of The World Award 2021,” Lewis told us. “It is made using a very special selection of grapes (Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Syrah), taken from high altitude vineyards (up to 1,400 metres above sea level), which are extremely hard to farm.”

In a warm country such as Lebanon, it is no small feat to produce a rosé with elegance and freshness, requiring supreme care and attention from vineyard to cellar. When making IXSIR Grande Réserve Rosé, only the finest proportion of the grape juice (known as the ‘free run juice’) is used, which means sacrificing a lot of wine in order to produce the best quality. The ultra premium rosé is made in stainless steel tanks, using protective winemaking (low pressure, direct press with minimal skin contact). All its flavour comes from the top-quality fruit.

“This is not a simple wine to knock back,” said Lewis. “It has subtle complex flavours that pair well with a variety of different foods.

According to the distributor, the Grande Réserve Rosé is set to make its debut on the UK market in time for the summer peak. “It’s on order – we are hoping it arrives within the next few weeks,” Lewis told db.

Enotria & Coe hopes that the top-end pink will increase awareness among UK consumers of Lebanon as a premium wine producing country.

“Lebanon is often still a curiosity, rather than somewhere people actively seek out for its wine,” Lewis said. “However, when talking to customers, there is often some familiarity, as well as a huge amount of interest in trying Lebanese wine. Lebanon is a country making high quality, premium wines.”

In terms of sales, Enotria has already seen huge growth in wines from the country over the last few years. “This year so far we have already sold triple what we sold in 2019,” Lewis said.

“I think there is an appreciation that by choosing to buy a bottle or glass of IXSIR, or any other Lebanese wine, people are contributing to the survival of the Lebanese wine industry during the very harsh conditions they have been experiencing in recent years.”

Lewis revealed that IXSIR has “been struggling at every stage of its production since 2020” due to sky-high inflation, lack of electricity for winemaking, shipping delays and materials shortages, but added it has maintained quality “by putting all its efforts at the service of the wines…”

“…Despite the challenges faced, IXSIR is an incredibly constructive partner, moving some of its stock to a European warehouse to ensure we can top-up our supply at short notice rather than waiting for a shipment from Lebanon.”

To date, IXSIR has exported 22,000 bottles to the UK, and the new rosé is set to further bolster these numbers.

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