Chateau Musar is one of the great icons of the wine world and whilst it’s tempting to think of this as ‘New World’ wine, that’s perhaps a little misleading as there’s evidence of vines being cultivated in the Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley for over 6,000 years. Chateau Musar itself is an 18th Century castle and the winery was founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar, who was to become greatly influenced by Leoville Barton’s Major Ronald Barton, whilst he was stationed in the Lebanon in WW2. It is under the stewardship of Gaston’s son, Serge Hochar, who took over as winemaker in 1959, that the property has found world fame. Serge studied wine-making at the University of Bordeaux, under the great Emile Peynaud and amongst his many achievements since. The wines that are only released seven years after the vintage, at which point they are deemed ready to drink but still very much infants. Great vintages of Musar continue to develop and reward cellaring for many decades. Serge’s first vintage the 1959 was an amazing journey and served to demonstrate the uniqueness of each vintage and the surprising variation in character. Some mature vintages are Bordeaux styled, whilst others appear more Rhone-like or even Burgundian.
A deep, intense ruby in colour, has a complex, intriguing array of aromas: toasted bread, cigar box, fresh tea, plums and Eastern spices. On the palate, there are mature fruits: plums, figs and cherries with hints of tea leaves and dark chocolate. The wine is intense and gregarious, the first taste releasing complex notes of currants, cherries and spice. The structure is light and airy, blending Musar’s classic fruit flavours with a hint of game and finishing with a cleansing acidity.