Chateau Musar was established by Gaston Hochar in 1930 and is without doubt Lebanon’s top wine estate. Few properties have consistently produced such high quality wines in the face of adversity and war, and it is a testament to the sheer will and determination of the Hochars that wine has been produced every single year, bar 1976 and 1984.
Chateau Musar is located in Ghazir, 15 miles north of Beirut overlooking the Mediterranean, whereas the vineyards themselves are located a long and sometimes dangerous truck journey over the mountains to the east of Beirut in the Beqaa (aka Bekaa) Valley. The vineyards benefit from an altitude of around 1000 metres and the subsequent cool nights serve to lengthen the crucial ripening process.
The red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault. Serge Hochar, who was been involved with the property from 1959, states that the Cabernet Sauvignon provides “the bones and the skeleton to the wine, the Carignan the flesh and muscle and the Cinsault the silky smooth finesse”.
Musar wines are unique in that Hochar blends the varietals only after they have spent three years in barrels and then waits a further four years before releasing the end result. This gives time for each variety to unfold its own character. The wines are extremely long-lived, with the best examples lasting for 20-30 years.
The Chateau Musar 2006 is their classic blend of a third each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan. The blending took place three years later in 2009 and the wines spent a year in French Nevers oak barrels. The release date of this vintage however, did not happen as planned! Their policy has always been to release their wine when they are ready for drinking and this is generally 7 years from the harvest, but in 2013 this wine was far from ready and needed more time. So they decided to postpone the release for one year, then another, then another until they were finally certain that the 2006 was ready for drinking in the spring of 2017.
A beautiful deep, ruby hue with lots of almost confected cherry, blackcurrant and cranberries on the nose with a hint of liquorice. The palate has an explosion of brambly and hedgerow fruits with blueberries and cherries – this is a mid-weight vintage from Chateau Musar with excellent acidity and fine tannins.