When you think of the turmoil Lebanon must have gone through during the civil war (1975-1990), to have continued producing wine to the same high standards, is incredible.
Chateau Musar kept on producing wines during this time, even when the cellars doubled up as an air-raid shelter! A wonderful estate in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, and one of the most respected estates anywhere in the world, Chateau Musar has emerged as a UK favourite for its robust and savoury individualistic style. This domaine, under the guidance of the late Serge Hochar (and in its origination with his father Gaston who founded the “Chateau” in 1930), combined an intriguing mix of Bordeaux and Rhône varietals, a practice continued to this day.
The winery was established way back in 1930 by Gaston Hochar, after returning from Bordeaux, and has remained in the family ever since – with sons Ronald and Serge (who sadly passed away in 2014) being involved with running the business.
Despite the civil war and unrest in the region, wine has been produced at Chateau Musar every year, with the sole exception of the 1976 vintage. (Wine wine was made in 1984 and 1992, however 1984’s was never released, and 1992 was declassified due to a weak vintage.)
In true homage to the work of the late owner, and our great working relationship, we are delighted to offer an extensive range of library vintages, with the 1999 having been compared by a few to the great vintage of 1959, and to be honest, there are not many places you will find a wine of this quality and vintage at less than £36 a bottle. And it has always held a special place here at The Wright Wine Company. In fact, it was one of the first wines (the 1982 vintage) that owner, Julian Kaye, ever laid down.
We were recently fortunate enough to have a tutored tasting in our shop with Elliott from Chateau Musar. Blown away by every single wine and intrigued by the fact that all of the vintages have their own unique identity, we agreed that the 1999 vintage was truly special, indeed a world class wine.
Chateau Musar Red 1999
A blend of Cinsault, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon, as with all Chateau Musar vintages, this exceptional wine shows intensely ripe cassis and cherry fruit on the nose with secondary characteristics of mushroom and forest undergrowth followed by a hint of vanilla and chocolate. The excellent acidity and firm, ripe tannins result in a wine which appears much fresher and more youthful than 20 years old.
Chateau Musar White 2010
Wholly unique, the style has been described as resembling ‘dry Sauternes’ or mature white Graves and indeed the cellar at Ghazir holds bottles of this wine dating as far back as 1954. Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar White is a blend of ancient grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, indigenous to the mountains of Lebanon and said to be related to Chasselas Chardonnay and Semillon. Fermented and aged partly in oak and partly in stainless steel, there’s lemony, Sémillon-like fruit on the palate, a white Rhône-like peachiness and a touch of oxidative savouriness on the finish. It’s quirky and an acquired taste but, in our opinion, it’s one worth acquiring. If you like Bordeaux whites, try this!
Chateau Musar Rosé 2016
Merwah (40%) and Obaideh (57%) as a base wine with 3% Cinsault to add colour and complexity. Just as in Champagne, a small amount of red wine is blended with white to create this delicate, yet complex and age worthy still rosé wine. The Chateau Musar Rosé was originally conceived in 1994 by the late Serge Hochar as a tribute to his love for the great rosés of Champagne. The freshness and youth in this 2016 vintage lend a vibrant acidity to balance the unexpected richness and complexity of the wine, though both will develop with time and integrate seamlessly with the oak element. An ideal aperitif wine, though also suited to seafood, charcuterie and washed-rind cheeses.