After four successive years of drought, 2002 supplied a long, rainy and cold winter which lasted until June. This was followed by a mild July and a hot August. The grapes took longer to reach maturity than average, and the harvest started almost two weeks later than in previous years. The maturity level varied from vineyard to vineyard forcing the winemaking team to be selective in their harvesting. The grapes were all hand picked in the early mornings to preserve the acidity. Fermentation in concrete vats went perfectly well but slowly, with the temperature kept below 31°C. The very long fermentation and maceration times were totally unexpected.
The wines were racked six months after the harvest and then put into French Nevers oak barrels for one year. The three varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan – which up until then had been kept separate, were blended in the following summer (2004) and bottled in July and August 2005. The grapes of this vintage were characterised by their high levels of sugar, acidity and tannins, and the resulting wines are much bigger, riper and fuller than expected. Overall it was an exceptional year: normally in Lebanon a high sugar content means less acidity, but in 2002 everything was there!
Chateau Musar 2002 is deep crimson – even blood red – in colour with an intense and complex nose of spicy red fruits and cedar with deeper plum notes. Generous red and black fruit characters follow through to the palate, combining with notes of Christmas cake spices, figs, dates and stewed plums. This richly-fruited wine shows good acidity, silky tannins and a long, promising finish. This wine is now in very short supply and could well run out in the next couple of months so it makes sense to buy it now.