Owned by Jill and Naji Boutros, Château Belle-Vue is a dynamic operation. It’s a small one (even by Lebanese standards), comprising just 24 hectares in plots scattered about Bhamdoun in the Mount Lebanon range. (This is one of only a handful of properties outside of the central Bekaa Valley). Few encounter the wine as only 20,000 bottles are produced, but its reputation is spreading far afield, garnering awards as well as praise from esteemed critics such as Robert Parker. The secrets of its success are the tiny yields of concentrated juice gently pressed from grapes grown on terraces at around 1000 metres, coupled with an enlightened approach in the winery that is dedicated to producing the finest wine possible, with commercial considerations coming a firm second.
The hillside on which Château Belle-Vue stands (the property being a small winery and cellar in the village of Bhamdoun) was once home to Hotel Belle-Vue, a remote Beirut resort owned by Naji’s grandfather. It was destroyed in the civil war (1975 – 1990) and all that now remains is a memorial tile mounted on the winery wall and the image of its façade on the wine’s label. However, a huge sense of optimism pervades Château Belle-Vue and there’s little time for dwelling on the past. When not making wine they are seeking out new plots of land (not easy, or cheap, when competing with developers) and there’s a restaurant under construction, as well as a centre for peace and reconciliation.