Founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar, 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. Chateau Musar’s red vineyards are situated towards the southern end of the Bekaa valley, noth of Lake Qaroun and about 30km south-east of Beirut. They lie near the villages of Aana and Kefraya on a range of gravelley soils over limestone: ideally suited to viticulture. Every wine is produced naturally with a “non-interventionist” wine making philosophy and the winery was the first in Lebanon to implement organically certified viticulture in 2006 for its Chateau Musar red and white grapes.
A good start to the year with plenty of rain and snow, then temperatures rising toward the end of March, however between 10th and 18th April, night-time temperatures fell to between -8°C and -12°C which destroyed buds that had started to open. By early May, we were looking out on hectares of blackened vines and the situation looked catastrophic but, gradually, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, green shoots emerged from the stems of the vines. A humid June and mild July were followed by rising temperatures throughout August and a heatwave into September which resulted in further losses in the vineyards by the time it came to harvest. Cabernet Sauvignon was picked on 3rd September with 65% losses to the crop; Cinsault started on the 8th of September with losses of 70% in the vineyards of Aana and 40% in the vineyards of Kefraya. Finally, Carignan picked on 11th September which was 50% down.
Deep ruby colour and an aroma of fresh hedgerow berries – bramble, blackcurrant and cherry, also more complexity coming through later with leather and delicate, peppery-spice notes. The flavours are similar, with some soft vanilla, warming spice and a cocoa note. Fresh acidity and supple tannins make the wine a perfect accompaniment to richer, fattier meats like duck or a ribeye steak.