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.