Domaine de Baal is almost as hard to find as its wines. Nestling high in the limestone folds on the west side of Mount Lebanon (overlooking the Bekaa Valley from 1200 metres), it is very much a property where all effort has been devoted to capturing the essence of the soil and grape in the bottle, and none to catching the tourist’s eye.

An unmarked iron gate opens onto an unmade track snaking down a ravine to a new winery carved sympathetically into the hillside. This sympathy has more to do with a reverence for the wine than with a desire to blend into the environment. The slope lends itself ideally to the gravity-fed tiers of the winery, and its metre-thick walls (hewn from the very limestone on which it sits) and its soil covered roofs both retain humidity and regulate temperature, thereby preserving the wine’s character and slowing its maturation.
The surrounding 5 hectares of terraced vineyards (with a further 4 to be planted) are organic, and herbs, spice plants and cereals populate the earth close to the vines, serving to drive their roots deeper into the rock. (I often consider that a further benefit to those who allow other aromatic plants to colonise their vineyards to a controlled extent, is that these plants may well add to the aromatic interest of the wine.)
The estate takes its name from the religion of Baalism, its gods being the keepers, or lords, of the land, responsible for all things agricultural, in particular the harvest.

Domaine de Baal's wines

  • ****

    Domaine de Baal White 2008

    Grapes: 50% Sauvignon, 50% Chardonnay

    Very serious, powerful and giving white on the nose. Northern Rhône-like (despite the absence of that region’s grapes!). Peach, plum and apricot, laced with nutty wax characters that persevere and alter with each visit to the glass. Big on the palate too, with still tight nervy acidity supporting globs of ripe apple, peach and floral fruits, together with layers of almond and hints of vanilla. Lovely, enjoyable and seriously good.

  • Domaine de Baal White (from tank) 2009

    Grapes: 50% Sauvignon, 50% Chardonnay

    Fresher - Sauvignon a little more to the fore. Closed initially, but then hints of melon, green fruits and grapefruit. Big silky palate, soft and supple with a light oak influence, structure now dominant over aromatics. Very good potential, but needs to settle and evolve.

    *** ½ - **** potentially

  • ****½

    Domaine de Baal Red 2007

    Inky purple. Huge nose, with billowing smoky clouds of blackberry, prune, cassis and fig. Big on the palate too, packed with fine tannins and a just-right sensual warmth supporting a myriad of black fruits, damson, black pepper and a cooling mineral length. Though giving up plenty of character now, it needs lots more time to reach its potential.

  • Domaine de Baal Red (from tank) 2008

    More brooding and restrained on the nose, though aromatics in a similar mould to above. Huge palate, layers of black fruits, plums spices & liquorice, cardamom and fine, fine tannins. Really rich and impressively powerful, a fantastic wine.

    potentially **** ½

  • Ancient terraces at Domaine de Baal

    Ancient terraces at Domaine de Baal