Enotria - The wine cathedral
2nd Part: The wine cathedral
From the road that winds through the vineyards in the south of the Bekaa Valley, the visitor can not miss cave Kouroum winery. It must be said that the landscape, straight out of a passage from the bible, it is an impressive sight!
Nestled into the hillside, the winery towers above the valley with its majestic modern architecture. With its “watchtower” that seems to keep an eye on the vineyards and its white silhouette that creates a striking contrast with the deep blue sky of the Bekaa, Cave Kouroum winery looks like a modern-day cathedral. This impressive building comes together at several levels in a play of natural light and shadow where aesthetics are a function of practical and technical requirements of the winery. The upper part of the building has a large elegant patio with a tasting room for visitors whereas the totality of the lower part is devoted to the vinification and aging of wines.
With maximum protection from the hot winds that constantly blow down the Bekaa Valley, conditions have been created to maintain an ideal temperature for the preservation of the wines. As for the process followed by the precious fruit, the layout of the winery sets the tone. Here, everything is done by gravitation. Each level corresponds to a work station, from the receiving platform for the grapes to the aging cellar. Entirely computer assisted, this temple of modernism is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment adapted to local climate conditions. At the centre of the vinification area, huge double walled thermo-regulated stainless steel tanks control the temperature throughout the process, while the impressive concrete fermentation cellar in the “belly” of the winery provides the best possible conditions for preserving the wines. For the aging of several selected blends, there is a huge room steeped in darkness and silence with an aging cellar equipped with big oak barrels and casks. The entire production is bottled on a bottling line located in the cellar. In keeping with Lebanese tradition, a room especially equipped to distil marc, lees and press wine is reserved for the production of Arak; the famous national drink born from a triple distillation and flavoured with green anise seeds. Natural vinification techniques are used for constant experimenting in the cellar, guaranteeing, to the greatest extent possible, a process that brings out the best aromas and flavours of the wine. White wines, “bled” roses and reds are all the result of traditional vinification techniques. For the vinification of red wines, four to five days of alcoholic fermentation precede a maceration period ranging from 15 days to a little over a month, depending on the profile of the desired wine. Thanks to a healthy harvest, mainly based on organic viticulture techniques and a combination of traditional and modern techniques used by Cave Kouroum, the natural qualities of the wines are emphasized to create a harmonious outcome.