Moar Lebs: Chateau Musar

There’s a reason Chateau Musar has the greatest and furthest reaching reputation of all the wines of Lebanon; it’s great stuff.  This was our first stop on our 3 day intensive tour, and it really set the benchmark for what’s achievable in these arid soils.


We began with a tour through the winery, which avoided any destruction in the civil war, the cellars, and finally to the tasting room where we had a really exceptional tasting to get a clear picture of how and why Musar is what it is.


The United Nations of tasters.

We started with the whites. First an Obeidy, reminiscent of Chardonnay, Chasselas, then a Mizwah which is closer to a Semllion. Then Chateau Musar Blanc 2008,  which is a blend of these indigenous varietals Mizwah (1/3) and Obeidy (2/3). My notes read beeswax, honey, lanolin, super savory with herbal notes. Low acid, but super delicious -> built with pork ramen in mind! This is winter white. Then 1994 Blanc – amber, VA nose with honey. Higher acid, round and glycerol, complex.  Awesome.

Then we went on to have an exceptional tasting of every varietal grown here, individually vinified from the 2016 vintage, before tasting 4 vintages of Chateau Musar Rouge. All before 9 am. #winejobs

  1. Cinsault: this is the grape the winemakers have the highest hopes for in Lebanon, and the one I find the most successful overall. Jubee purple fruit, slight herbal tinge, fine grained powerful tannins
  2. Syrah: very acidic with powdery tannins- thick skins here! Floral and dense with fruit
  3. Grenache: pretty red fruit, high alc, super pleasant with loose tannins
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon: reductive, herbal thread, big chunky tannins all around the edge of the mouth
  5. Carignan: Another favorite of mine, cool. chunky tannins, purity of fruit. punchy alcohol (14%), warm and creamy – loving this


Chateau Musar 2003: volatile acidity lift, oxidative tomato, sweet spice and some play-doh saltiness (a hallmark of Lebanese wines for me). Concentrated and well built. 

Chateau Musar 1998: reminiscent of a Bordeaux nose with cigar box for days. Some VA, but more harmonious than 03, textured, powerful, and one to continue to age. Long. 

Chateau Musar 1974 (corked): this was weird and unclear why they served it. Perhaps to make ’64 look better?

Chateau Musar 1964: sugar, sweet spice, and light cigar box. “Wild wine.” – Serge. Beautiful, elegant, harmonious, still with a fruit core and strong tannins. A lady in body, but savage with umami and power. 


While Marc is in New York, I’m purple teething it up with Donald and Gaston Hochar.


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