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.
The 2017 vintage looks to be very promising indeed, the wines of this year are unique, yet retaining classical Chateau Musar character. Three factors come to our minds, the similarity in style of the different decades ending in 7, the taste of the last vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon harvested and powerful aromas. It has a bright ruby colour and there are sweet red cherries, mulberries and plums on the nose with a hint of tea tree and liquorice. The tannins are soft and well-integrated and this vintage has good acidity, depth of fruit and a long finish. Cellared well, it will age beautifully for decades.
The blend is the usual equal parts one third of each of Cabernet, Cinsault and Carignan. Each varietal was fermented with natural yeasts in concrete vats, then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels before blending in early 2020 and bottled without fining or filtration during the summer months. All the wines proved very aromatic and in particular the last Cabernet Sauvignon picked, showed for the first time, aromas and taste of exotic fruits and even guava. Preliminary tastings showed that 2017 is a different year with more structure and power, reminding us of 2007, 1997 and 1987 vintages, as if it was a decade style.
Red cherries, plums, carob and figs dominate the nose with a hint of eastern spice. Kirsch and plums follow through to the palate with blackcurrant and chocolate. The tannins are velvety soft and this wine has a lot of depth and fruit concentration with a long finish.
Try with Kafta, sfeeha, pork rillettes, roasted red peppers with tapenade, moussaka, kebab or black bean chilli