Chateau Musar Tasting Notes Year By Year

By FINE+RARE

Jun 11th, 2020

A Timeline of Vintages

Many factors come into play when tasting Chateau Musar vintages. Was it a warmer Cabernet year (1999, 2000, 2005)? Was it cooler, making Cinsault more influential in the blend as in 1998? Or was it a Carignan year like 2003? Or will grape prominence be less relevant than the dodging of bullets across the Beka’a in a vintage we’re lucky to see the appearance of at all? Through the tasting notes that follow, there are notes on the vintage, the weather conditions and the family events that helped shape the wines. They also chart the mindset of the wine-maker, Serge Hochar, as he became less influenced by his background in Bordeaux and increasingly confident in the wines emerging from his own terroir in Lebanon; how he became frustrated with the politics that prevented him from accessing his vineyards, then relieved as the freedom to harvest on time returned.

Hochar family wines live for a long time and their flavours linger in the mouth and memory long after the bottle is drained. Some of these wines have been tasted à point, at the peak of perfection, but many have yet to reach this moment, and they are judged on their potential. Even more fascinating, perhaps, are the notes on wines that are perhaps just past their prime, but still delivering fascinating nuances that astound the taster – some of these wines elicit the most evocative tasting notes of all.

For the Hochar family, a new wine, however shapely or pleasing, is always pregnant with promise for the future. Many of the notes below show the best that the wines can be – but they also underline the fact that for each taster Musar’s most sublime moment will be different.

Although the Hochar family does not believe in the concept of defining a wine with numbers, ratings have been included in here to give some guidance. Marc is keen to point out that these figures, although helpful, are sometimes very different from the feedback received from professionals at tastings in the US, Europe or Asia. "But that should not come as a surprise," he says: "Tasting is always a very personal matter."

Jancis Robinson MW, Bartholomew Broadbent and Steven Spurrier award marks out of 20 for each wine. Michael Broadbent prefers a five-star scoring system. All notes were taken in 2018/19 with the exception of Michael Broadbent’s.

Chateau Musar - Red

One third each Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan, aged for a year in French Nevers oak.

Chateau Musar - White

A blend of two local varieties, Merwah and Obaideh. Both grapes are partly fermented in oak barriques (25% new each year) where they mature for a further nine months. They are then blended, bottled and aged for a further six to eight years before release.

[All extracts from 'Chateau Musar: The Story of a Wine Icon' have been published online with the kind permission of the Académie du Vin Library. For the full story, click here to buy the book with our exclusive promotional offer.]

Image credits: © Lucy Pope

The Wines of Lebanon: A Phoenician Phenomenon

BY Gavin Lucas,

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