Knowing about Chateau Musar takes more than a sip or a glassful, however fascinating the taste of that wine might prove to be. To know Chateau Musar takes an understanding of terroir, of natural winemaking, of human nature and of history. All of these factors have a powerful influence over the way the wine appears in the glass – how it tastes, smells, lives, breathes and changes.
The story of Musar’s survival during the Lebanese civil war of 1975 to 1990 is well documented. It was a formative time for the wine and for its creator, Serge Hochar, who was only just beginning to trust his grapes (as he famously said) to ‘become what they wanted to be’. From 1975, he had no choice. They were harvested when the shelling paused; their transit to the winery took as long as avoiding militia check-points permitted (sometimes days), and winemaking could only happen when the coast road was clear and Serge could reach the winery. And yet the war is only a tiny part of the history that makes these wines what they are.
2016 – An equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan
Each varietal was fermented with natural yeasts in concrete vats, then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels before blending in February 2019 and bottled without fining or filtration during the summer months of July and August. After the various fermentations, the first discovery was the quality of the Cabernet which was outstanding, with a great depth of fruit and concentration. Cinsault was elegant and silky with an explosion of aromas reminding us that this grape is actually their very own Lebanese Pinot. As usual, Carignan showed its quality, benefitting from the warm conditions sacrificing yield though in turn, gaining greater concentration. This is an exceptional grape which truly typifies the terroir of the Bekaa.
The 2016 harvest showed, without a doubt, that global warming is causing higher annual temperatures and at the same time, successive years of low rainfall have resulted in drier soils. Clearly, these factors may affect maturation of the grapes as well as the wine-making process, but for 2016, with the much needed rainfall and almost perfect climatic conditions, there are high expectations for this vintages’ future for decades to come.
The 2016 vintage is deep ruby in colour with high viscosity. Red cherries, plums, carob and figs dominate the nose with a hint of eastern spice. Kirsch and plums follow through to the palate with blackcurrant and chocolate. The tannins are velvety soft and this wine has a lot of depth and fruit concentration with a long finish.
Produced naturally with a non-interventionist wine making philosophy. The first winery in Lebanon to implement organically certified viticulture.