Chateau Musar, Lebanese Wine Now Available
Lebanese wines have always had an appeal to us and we could not ignore that in recent years these wines have been turning a few heads. So we wanted to offer you something a little bit different this Christmas. In the midst of our tasting room & via our website you will now find the 1998 and the 2004 vintages awaiting new owners who wish to consume them.
The Hochar family's philosophy of respect for the environment means that the 180 hectares of Musar vineyards are managed with minimal human interference and all the wines are made naturally.
Chateau Musar was the first producer in Lebanon to achieve organic certification for its vineyards in 2006. Most are located in the Bekaa Valley, cradled between two mountain ranges running parallel to Lebanon’s Mediterranean coastline. Vines have been cultivated here for at least 6,000 years: the Phoenicians (seafaring ancestors of the modern Lebanese) were instrumental in bringing vines and wines from Byblos across to all of the areas around the Mediterranean.
Flanked by snow-covered mountains, and nestled at 1000m (3,000 feet) above sea level, the serenely beautiful Bekaa Valley is blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year, fresh mountain breezes and an average temperature of 25°C (encompassing snowy winters and hot summers). Remote and unspoilt, the Musar vineyards were ‘organic’ by default before the term was coined.
All the grapes are hand-harvested by local Bedouins between August and October.
In the winery, ambient yeasts do the work of fermentation. The bare minimum of sulphur is used and the Chateau Musar Red wines are neither fined nor filtered.
What to expect
In their youth, Chateau Musar Reds are dense and richly-textured, with intense ‘baked fruit’ characters: plums, damsons, cranberries, cherries, figs and dates. Bordeaux grape Cabernet Sauvignon lends black fruit flavours; Rhône grapes Cinsault and Carignan contribute fragrance (violets; pepper) and supple spiciness. Either set of qualities might dominate a particular vintage, but the style is always emphatically Lebanese: enticingly aromatic, with persistent fruit flavours. Over decades the wines acquire tawny hues and mellow notes.
Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault from vineyards near the Bekaa Valley villages of Aana and Kefraya on gravelly soils over limestone. Planted from the 1930s onwards, yields are low from these mature bushvines (average age: 40 years): Between 15 to 35hl per hectare.
The varietal components are brought together two years after the harvest; the resulting blend is then placed back in cement tanks before being bottled 12 months later. Each wine is blended to reflect the character of the vintage. After 4 years’ bottle maturation in the deep stone cellars of Chateau Musar, the finished wines are released a full seven years after the harvest.
To keep these wines showing at their best, we suggest that your bottles are cellared in darkness, lying on their sides and not subjected to unnecessary movement or fluctuations in temperature.
- Chris Rogers