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 Musar 2010 vintage was hit by a heat wave in the Bekaa Valley, with the highest ever temperature recorded, 48.5 degrees! The heat inhibited the grapes from developing, they dried on the vine. The Cabernet Sauvignon was affected the most, with 45% lost. This has meant that production was down overall and therefore this release is far more limited then usual. The wine is remarkable, with a deep, rich garnet colour with aromas of raisins, cedar, prunes and cinnamon. The 2010 is a savoury, herby wine with delicate spices and the raisiny, figgy aromas follow through to the palate. This is an elegant vintage with fresh acidity and a long, dry finish.