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.
2009 was a truly memorable year in the Bekaa Valley and a vintage of two halves – before and after the rain! This vintage will go down in history as the year of the two day September deluge – unprecedented since records began in 1870. Conditions until mid-September had been exemplary – no rain or snow fell for the first three months of the year but surprisingly the rain and snow came back at the end of March and gave the blossoming vines a much needed moisture boost – the soils were also in much need of this moisture after a couple of months of dryness. Low humidity in May, June and July promoted excellent vine health and the weeds that also thrived in these conditions were manually removed – this was our only hard work during this time. Sultry conditions at the end of the summer brought the harvest on quickly and the red grapes began arriving on the 2nd September, Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Carignan with Cinsault last on the 7th and 8th. With low PH and high acidity and sugar, the grapes held exceptional promise. After the September rain fall, the remaining red grapes were harvested and were juicier than usual, showing a full bodied structure and a very fragrant nose.
The Cabernet Sauvignon in particular flourished this year, from flowering to dominating the final structure and taste of the wine, this vintage has a deep scarlet colour and a nose of blackberries, Assam tea, dark chocolate and mulled berries. On the palate there are rich black and red fruits, especially blackcurrants, cherries, damsons and figs with warm cinnamon spice and a hint of mint. This vintage is also characterised by a smoky, earthiness. The tannins are well integrated, with good acidity and a long, dry finish.