Chateau Musar was established in 1930 by Gaston Hochar at the tender age of 20. His inspiration was both the 6,000-year winemaking history of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and also his time in Bordeaux – a connection which was strengthened during the Second World War when he befriended Major Ronald Barton of Château Langoa-Barton while he was stationed in Lebanon. In 1959 he graciously stepped aside for his two eager sons Serge and Ronald.
Today it is overseen by the third generation: like their father and uncle, Serge’s eldest son Gaston now manages the day-to-day operation of the winery.
The Musar property is located in the southern end of Bekaa Valley, around 30km north of Beirut. Here the altitude and shelter from surrounding mountains provide excellent growing conditions; the Bekaa valley is almost completely disease and frost free with long mild summers and just enough rain in the winter. The wide range of gravelly soils over limestone is also ideal for viticulture.
2015 was a challenging vintage for Chateau Musar which started with an April frost, then, a heatwave arrived in August and went right through September up until harvest, stressing the Cabernet Sauvignon vines resulting in a 65% loss of the crop. However, the story of the quality is different. The 2015, which has been released earlier than the usual 7 years from vintage, has ended being a belter of a wine.
The blend is the usual equal parts one third of each of Cabernet, Cinsault and Carignan, but this year the Cabernet is, aromatically at least, taking a back stage. The nose is much more dominated by the floral, spice and red fruit components of the Cinsault and Carignan. However, the tannins are all Cabernet and so is the powerful finish which lingers with all the beautiful hallmarks of this wine: leather, incense, balsam, wood smoke, cedar wood, and undergrowth.
Try with Kafta, sfeeha, pork rillettes, roasted red peppers with tapenade, moussaka, kebab or black bean chilli