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.
A wet start to the year led to a very good bud set. However, a heatwave in July tired the vines and green leaves turned pale, causing the harvest to be much smaller than anticipated. The grapes were mostly harvested by vineyard and rarely by grape variety – Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault were first picked during the last week of August from Kefraya vineyards, followed by Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon from Aana and towards the end of the harvest, the othervineyards of Carignan and Cinsault were picked from there. Red fermentation was difficult this year due to different levels of grape
maturation. Some vats fermented very slowly with others much faster but in both cases, the results were very promising. This vintage was blended in February 2015 and bottled during the summer of 2015.
Chateau Musar Red 2012 has a dark burgundy colour, a nose of matured stone fruits, plums and figs with liquorice and spicy notes. It has big developed ripe fruit on the nose and a bold taste profile of juicy, black fruits plus mocha and leather and a beautiful lingering finish.