Domaine de Bargylus Blanc, Deir Touma Lattaquié, 2014
Domaine de Bargylus, Deir Touma Lattaquié (aka Mount Bargylus)
This is the last bottling estate in Syria.
In 1998, Sandro Saadé’s father had the vision of producing fine wines from the slopes of Mount Bargylus, near the Roman city of Antioch in Syria. Sharing his father’s passion, in 2003 Sandro decided to continue this dream through Domaine de Bargylus; working with the help of the world famous winemaking consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, they produce powerful and complex wines, which are typically Mediterranean in style, from the estate’s 20ha of vineyards on ancient soils lying 990m above sea level facing the Mediterranean Sea. Domaine de Bargylus’ vineyard is planted on gentle slopes, with 75% red and 25% white vines. Stéphane Derenoncourt quickly recognised this as a “fabulous” terroir. The vineyard is located on a geological fault. On one side, the soils are an exceptional kind of limestone; on the other side, the limestone is mixed with flint that amplifies the mineral qualities in the wines. The clays are the link between these two soil profiles. Darker and more intense than the Bekaa clays, they forge the character and complexity of the reds. The vineyard spreads across the hinterland of Lattaquié, with large variations in temperature from day to night that favour the development of aromas. The climate is quite unlike the climate at Château Marsyas – fresher and above all not so dry. Here the maritime winds that blow from the Mediterranean favour rain (900mm per year, compared with 600mm at Marsyas). The summers are reasonably hot, enough for good and lengthy ripening of the grapes. Autumns are often premature, which favours slow phenolic ripening, without sacrificing the acidity of the grapes or their aromatic freshness. Over the years, this particular climate has altered the domaine’s approach to husbandry and the choice of grape variety. Some years, the Cabernet Sauvignon cannot be harvested before the beginning of November. In addition, with some Autumns, it doesn’t ripen at all. Syrah then becomes the natural choice. This Rhône Valley varietal is perfectly adapted to clay-limestone soils and its annual cycle of growth is shorter than the Cabernet Sauvignon’s. Syrah is used in combination with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Harvesting is done by hand, gathering grapes in small crates, with double grape sorting. Vinification for the red wines follows the same techniques as at Château Marsyas: avoiding too much extraction, to conserve the natural qualities of a wine with an essentially Mediterranean character. All the reds are aged in barrels, with 30% new oak each year. This painstaking maturation does not aim to give the wines a wood quality, just add an element of complexity and round off the tannins. Final blending takes place after 12-14 months of ageing. The white wine is vinified in stainless steel, with extended lees contact for 3 months with no oak ageing. All vintages of the Domaine de Bargylus Rouge benefit from a light carafing. Stéphane says, “I met the Saadé family for a wine project proposal. I was instantly seduced by the Syrian project, which consisted of the creation of a vineyard in a land on which vines used to grow in ancient time. I was also struck by the passion and dynamism of the Saadé family who decided to come back and develop new projects in Syria.”
Complex and aromatic with notes of lemon verbena, white peach, lime and fresh mint. Recommended in the Guardian Wine Critic, Fiona Beckett's article about new adventurous wines in the Oberserver Food Monthly (October 2014), Bargylus Blanc is full bodied with a vibrant acidity and clean mineral backbone. It is an elegant, balanced wine which is a serious pleasure to drink.
Grapes: 55% Chardonnay, 45% Sauvignon Blanc