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Château Musar was established by Gaston Hochar in 1930 and is without doubt Lebanon's top wine estate. Few properties have consistently produced such high quality wines in the face of adversity and war, and it is a testament to the sheer will and determination of the Hochars that wine has been produced every single year, bar 1976 and 1984. The property is located in Ghazir, 15 miles north of Beirut overlooking the Mediterranean, whereas the vineyards themselves are located a long and sometimes dangerous truck journey over the mountains to the east of Beirut in the Beqaa (aka Bekaa) Valley. The vineyards benefit from an altitude of around 1000 metres and the subsequent cool nights serve to lengthen the crucial ripening process. The red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault. Serge Hochar, who has been involved with the property since 1959, states that the Cabernet Sauvignon provides "the bones and the skeleton to the wine, the Carignan the flesh and muscle and the Cinsault the silky smooth finesse". Musar wines are unique in that Hochar blends the varietals only after they have spent three years in barrels and then waits a further four years before releasing the end result. This gives time for each variety to unfold its own character. The wines are extremely long-lived, with the best examples lasting for 20-30 years.
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Musar is one of the legends of the wine world, and unknown outside Lebanon until ‘discovered’ in the 1970s. Founded by Gaston Hochar in 1930 and brought to prominence by his son Serge, the wine was made for many years in the middle of a war zone. The wine can last for decades, but the indomitable Serge passed away at the end of 2014. Wild, funky, spicy and succulent. Bright and intense despite a decade of age, the Cabernet Sauvignon gives structure but does not dominate. Earthy, blueberry notes come from Carignan and Cinsault. The 2003 vintage is even more sumptuous than usual. Drink now to 2035. This suits rich, steeped food. Think cassoulet, duck confit, or a spicier lamb tagine. Definitely decant, probably two hours in advance. Mark Pardoe MW, Wine Director
Case price (12)
Case saving £34.80
Bottle 6 x 75cl
The 1998 Chateau Musar is a rather prototypical Musar – lots of acidity, some brett, fine structure. It reveals a more gentle style on opening, but aeration proves how much underlying power it actually has. (That is, a lot.) There is a good analogy here to the 1994, concerning both how they showed early on and later. There is plenty of power, tannin and acidity, but there is also some balance. I loved the silky texture, emphasized in this vintage. It finishes with a controlled bang. This greatly benefitted from some air, showing layers that I did not initially think it had, but it does seem a bit on the lighter side. Drink now-2030. Mark Squires - eRobertParker.com 207 - Jun 2013
Bottle 12 x 75cl
The 1999 vintage is more dense and ripe than 1998, with the usual Musar potential for development in the cellar. Full-bodied, fleshy, with pepper and tobacco overtones, soaked in blackberry and raspberry fruit. Grippy edge on the finish, with a cinnamon and dark-chocolate tinged character.
With Chateau Musar, Serge Hochar almost single-handedly established the reputation of Lebanese wine worldwide… an achievement which his many compatriots who now make wine there are quick to acknowledge. Grace under pressure par excellence, and given the ambient climate, a very graceful wine. The 2004 vintage is a classic Musar, with creamy, composed scents marked by lifted aromas of liqueur de kirsch and wild strawberries. The palate is broad and indulgent, with hints of bitter chocolate. Made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and a little Carignan, this is an excellent foil to the cuisine of the region. Simon Field MW, BBR Buyer, October 2011
Generous warm and rich fruit; Serge Hochar has coaxed the richest of wines form the meanest of soils.
This wine is unique in style, with lifted aromas and exotic perfumes of liqueur de kirsch and wild strawberries. The palate is broad and indulgent. Made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and a little Carignan, it's an excellent foil to the cuisine of the region.