"Dynamic yet charming, always good company, plus a superb vigneron and winemaker, Serge Hochar put the wines of Lebanon on the map. It is wonderful to note that the family is keeping them there."
With it being the year of Chateau Musar’s 90th anniversary, we decided to knock on the door of this venerable estate, wishing to express our admiration and give our clients overdue access to this legendary producer.
Musar has been shrouded in a certain amount of mystique and magic since its pioneering founder, Gaston Hochar, first established the winery in 1930. His charismatic son, Serge, made it a global icon and to this day, Musar holds a special place in the hearts and minds of wine lovers across the globe.
Musar evokes many strong associations. From the land and culture of Lebanon, combining flair and exoticism, elegance and excitement, all in one bottle; to passion and determination in the face of adversity – during the height of conflict in the war-torn Lebanon of the '70s and '80s, the Hochar family successfully produced wine every year except for one.
Serge Hochar’s vision in winemaking was about ‘truth’ and ‘life’. It was not about perfection. It was not about predictability. Every vintage tells its story – about a land in constant flux and about the joy and pleasure that wine brings through this turbulence. Musar's approach to winemaking is low-intervention, resulting in a celebration of a living and evolving being in bottle.
Sometimes hard to define, but always carrying the inimitable Musar flair, beauty, mystery and excitement, each vintage has been a joy to taste. Getting to know Chateau Musar better in its 90th year has been a real privilege that we are delighted to share with you.
“Serge Hochar put the wines of Lebanon on the map. It is wonderful to note that the family is keeping them there.” - Michael Broadbent
“His single-minded determination to generate worldwide understanding of a wine that can be changeable, eccentric and unquestionably beautiful, has quietly catapulted Musar to global stardom” - Susan Keevil
“[Serge Hochar's} spirit will surely endure forever in the Hochar family’s wines with their unmistakable, remarkable and inimitable brand of humanity.” - Kevin Gould
To celebrate this extraordinary wine icon, we have worked with Chateau Musar to create two hand-selected collection cases, spanning Musar’s winemaking lifetime. We have curated vintages from the Chateau’s history based on our own tastings as well as those of notable industry figures such as Jancis Robinson and Bartholomew Broadbent (who first visited Musar with his father Michael in the 1970s).
Our first three-bottle collection case spans the 1960s - when Serge was discovering his style, having returned from his studies in Bordeaux and strongly influenced by Saint-Julien and Saint-Estephe - and the '70s, when he started making wines that were pure Chateau Musar or, in his own words, “les vins du terroir Libanais”. The 1960, 1974 and 1979 collection case demonstrates this evolution beautifully.
Jumping forward to the '90s and 2000s - these are the years when Tarek Sakr came into the fold as Serge’s winemaker and 'spiritual son'. Reading their notes on their joint discoveries in winemaking during these vintages is fascinating and touching. Our second six bottle collection features the greatest modern Musars which have kept the name at the forefront of wine lovers’ minds - 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2008 and 2009.
Click here to view a timeline of vintages: tasting notes year by year.
"Great depth for a wine of this age. Still very solid red with a touch of maturity on the rim. Looks about 15 years old. Classic nose: mature Bordeaux in character; signs of age and aromas reminiscent of very old cellars in France; lovely autumnal smells and meaty redcurrant fruit. Perfection on palate: full fruit and a great mouthfeel, with sweetness, length, great texture and perfect evolution; a little spicy and hot on the finish. Like an old Bordeaux but with better acidity, then a lovely aftertaste that conjures up the bonfire smells of autumn country walks. At its peak now. One of the best Musars I’ve ever tasted."
20 Points - Bartholomew Broadbent (on the 1960 Chateau Musar)
"Very light in colour with maturity on the rim: salmon ruby. Surprisingly intense and concentrated nose with strong ash and autumnal smells; great acidity, damp leaves and old bonfires. On the palate, very sweet fruit and a long finish that goes through several evolutions (one developing old pomegranate flavours) in the longest aftertaste of any Musar. Full mouthfeel defies the lightness of the wine. Almost chewy in texture. Intense volatile acidity."
18 Points - Bartholomew Broadbent (on the 1997 Chateau Musar)