When you are a winemaker you have the luck to work with something that is alive and you should never kill it. – Serge Hochar.
Unique Wines from an Ancient Tradition
The wines of Chateau Musar are unique expressions from a country with an ancient wine making culture, as vines have been cultivated from Lebanon’s high altitude Bekaa Valley for over 6,000 years.
From around 4,500 BC, the sea-faring Phoenicians (ancestors of the modern Lebanese) distributed their wines and vines throughout the Mediterranean, travelling as far as Cadiz (and possibly beyond) in their robust cedar boats. Their resilience in the face of repeated invasion gave rise to the legend of ‘The Phoenix’. They also invented the alphabet to help keep records of their various transactions.
The ancient city of Baalbek in the northern Bekaa Valley, takes its name from the Phoenician fertility god, Baal. The Roman god Bacchus was in turn worshipped here and the temples built in his honour remain among the most perfectly preserved in the world. The region’s wines are mentioned many times in the bible, with the first recorded evidence of wine transactions coming from Byblos (‘book’ in Greek, hence ‘Bible’) an historic fishing port north of Beirut.
French in origin, the Hochar (pronounced Hoshar) family arrived in Lebanon in the 12th century, Preux Chevaliers and has remained there ever since.
In 1930, at just 20 years old, Gaston Hochar founded Chateau Musar, inspired by Lebanon's 6,000 years winemaking tradition and his travels in Bordeaux. His 'wines with noblesse' greatly impressed senior officers in the army following on from the French mandate of the 1920s. Major Ronald Barton, of Château Langoa-Barton, stationed in Lebanon during World War II became a great friend, strengthening the links between Chateau Musar and Bordeaux that remain to this day.
Wine Enthusiast in Indonesia can finally get a taste of these Chateau Musar imported by Dimatique International, one of the biggest wine distributors in Indonesia.
Wine list that Dimatique bring for Chateau Musar is:
2005 Chateau Musar Red
The 2005 vintage is a deep blood red colour with a smoky, spicy, nose of black fruits, toasted bread, dark chocolate and cigar box – an impressive fragrance of fruits and spices. The palate is well structured; full of black and red fruits such as cherries, blackcurrants and prunes with a hint of dark chocolate and fresh tea leaves. The finish is long and fine with velvety tannins.
2004 Chateau Musar Red
In 2004 winter was normal with snow until March; spring and summer were very mild. Fresh, cool air was present throughout the year and in this climate the grapes were slow to mature. Sugar and acidity levels were relatively low around harvest time then a sudden heat wave struck, lasting a week. “The 2004 Chateau Musar Red has all the musky, spicy, leathery depth this wine is famous for, but it also has a kind of airy lightness which makes it a beguiling drink,” said Simon Hoggart – The Spectator, March 3rd 2011.
2003 Chateau Musar Red
The 2003 harvest was a unique experience and two words can aptly summarize it: alcohol and acidity – this vintage is rich in both. After the rainiest winter in 15 years, not a drop of rain fell from mid April onwards and it was hot and sunny throughout the summer months. In May when flowering started, a 10 days heat-wave reduced the harvest quantity by about 30% and this phenomenon was responsible for the concentration of sugar and acidity in the grapes. Our first indications even at the racking stage were that the 2003 vintage would be full-bodied, powerful with great length and 7 years later upon release in 2010, we were proved right. These will be the defining characteristics of 2003.
1999 Chateau Musar Red
1999 was an exceptional year, starting with a dry winter, leading to a fresh spring and good flowering (although yields were reduced by lack of water). Summer was mild; July and August were cloudy; September was hot and sunny, enabling grapes to achieve high levels of alcohol, acidity and extract. “Chateau Musar uses French grape varieties, each vinified separately, spending one year in tank, one in oak, the final blend made, like mixing paints on a palette, by Serge Hochar, a true artist of wine. At any rate, I admire the results, which are, for the foregoing reasons, noticeably different each year. I am currently enjoying the 1999. Not claret, nor Burgundy, not Rhône but Lebanon.”
2006 Chateau Musar White
We would summarise 2006 as a year of great character – an astonishing year, where to start? The winter was cold and snow covered the Bekaa Valley for more than two weeks, leaving the soil untouched for 45 days due to the resulting mud. When spring arrived, it never ended. In 2006 we only had 10 days of our usual summer climate during the whole summer season with a maximum temperature of 30 degrees in the day and 22 degrees in the night. It was an unbelievable thing to witness – as if it was a year from the 1950s, when the climate was cooler, the winds more gentle and when nature was balanced ecologically. The whites from this year will be outstanding with an unusual late maturing of the Merwah grape variety, which was picked as late as the 18th October. Fragrant and honeyed, rich, creamy and intensely zesty, the Chateau Musar White 2006 is well balanced with a long, fine finish.
Musar Jeune Red 2011, Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon
The Musar Jeune Red 2011 is a blend of 50% Cinsault (vines of more than 40 years of age), 35% Syrah and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from our organic vineyards. The grapes were naturally fermented in concrete vats at an average of 28 degrees. In accordance with our natural and authentic wine-making philosophy, the wines were not filtered or fined and the sedimentation occurred naturally. This wine was bottled 11 months after the harvest to preserve the freshness and true expression of the vintage and terroir, enhanced by organic viticulture.
The 2011 vintage has a bright violet colour with a nose of blueberries, violets, red cherries and red berry fruits. The palate is very fresh and fruity with blueberries, blackcurrants and red plums. This very balanced wine with its fruit concentration, soft tannins and long, warm finish is best enjoyed in its youth.
Musar Jeune White 2013 - Viognier, Vermentino, Chardonnay
The 3 grape varieties, 35% Viognier, 35% Vermentino and 30% Chardonnay are an eclectic blend of French and Sicilian grapes (none of which are found in Chateau Musar White) were harvested in August 2013 and fermented in stainless steel vats. The vines used for the Musar Jeune White come from two different terroirs – Chardonnay and Vermentino are grown on limestone based soils, while the Viognier comes from vineyards with silty soils. Pale lemon in colour with fruity and herby aromas – of apricots, white peaches, pears, honeysuckle and elderflower. The grapes were very fragrant and vibrant in 2013 which has resulted in an aromatic wine with a hint of nuttiness on the rich, textured palate with gentle acidity and a peachy finish. A wine to enjoy in its youth (in contrast to the Chateau bottling, which is not released until its seventh year) and best served gently chilled with lightly spiced dishes such as teriyaki glazed salmon, satay chicken and Lebanese mezze.