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Musar Musings

by | Mar 23, 2021 | Fine Wine Tastings and Dinners, Online tastings

On Monday 22nd March Tim conducted a Masterclass tasting of 10 wines from Château Musar, with over 50 people tasting and sharing recollections of wines they had tasted before.  A number revealed they even had some vintages in their cellar, bought for prices that look unbelievably cheap now – despite the fantastic value that many of the wines we tasted represent.

We started with the Château Musar white – a blend of two Lebanese varieties, Obadien and Merwal.  Grapes are from 90 year old vines, the wine is fermented in barrel and aged in French oak for 9 months – and then is not released for 7 years!  The glorious complex savoury aromas and flavours were accompanied by a sense of great freshness, this was a wine that cried out for food (and luckily many of us were prepared!).

The Hochar Père et Fils, Ch Musar is at pains to emphasise, is NOT their second wine.  The blend of grape varieties is different (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Grenache), and they are made from 30 year old vines in a vineyard near the village of Aana in the Bekaa valley.  Low yields (20-30hl/ha), 6-9 months in French oak and 3 years of bottle ageing before release – this is a great wine in its own right.  Flavours of dried black cherry, cranberry and redcurrant, aromas of Ethiopian coffee and a hint of earthiness, this was drinking beautifully but could evolve over many years.

We then moved to our 7 wine journey through Chateau Musar reds.  Grenache does not feature, but Carignan does, and vineyards from the Kefraya village are also included.  Yields are of course low, and following up to 6 months in cement vats at moderate fermentation temperatures, the wine spends a year in French oak, and then return to cement tanks until blending takes place after 2 years. The actual proportions depend on the vintage conditions – in 2010 and 2000 it was so hot and dry that Cabernet Sauvignon yields plummeted, and it was interesting (well to me at least) that tannins were lower in these wines, as were alcohol levels.

The vintages we tasted were 2014 (available on the website NOW!), 2011, 2010, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1998 and 1997.  All brought a different expression to the wine, and there were lots of ‘favourites’.  Possibly the only disappointment was the 1998, if one can be disappointed in a wine that has survived nearly a quarter century of civil wars and economic catastrophes.  There was certainly bottle variation (we had decanted four bottles of each vintage, into the 50ml sample bottles we provided on the night), and Tim and I felt that one of the 1998s was a bit oxidised, though not corked.  We had quite a long discourse from Tim about Château Musar corks and their tendency to crumble, and possibly a bit too much excitement on his part about the special ‘butlers friend’ device that with practice is a great way of extracting the whole cork in one piece.

The final wine of the night, 1997, was amazing.  “A great year” (in Musar’s own words), with ripe, vibrant fruit, and fabulous mature cedar, cigar box and forest floor notes.  The great news is that the 2014 has a good chance of evolving into something like this, so we will be laying some down.  Tim can obtain other vintages as well, so do get in touch if you are interested.

It was lovely to hear about the different vintages of Musar people had in their wine collections, and when they were planning to open them!  This tasting had originally been planned for last year, and it would have been 10 years after the first Château Musar tasting that Tim ran.  Here’s to the next one – in 9 or 10 years!

Details of what we tasted are on the wines we have tasted page.


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“Throughout the 17 years I have attended Tim’s wine tasting events, he has continued to deliver his extensive knowledge of wine and wine-making with great charm, and lots of humour, making the evenings not only informative, but also great fun. In the course of an average year, the tastings cover a kaleidoscope of different wine themes – interesting and entertaining for all, novices and experts alike. And the wines taste pretty good too!”

“We have been going to Teddington Wine Society events for a number of years. Tim runs the evenings with bonhomie and humour and wears his considerable knowledge lightly. The evenings are great fun, the wines are always a little bit different and help to expand knowledge and tasting horizons.”

“I have attended the Richmond Wine society for over ten years and always enjoyed Tim’s self-effacing style and gentle humour. His knowledge is globally eclectic and presented in a clear, interesting and always stimulating way. Every guest I have taken there has enjoyed the evening immensely. Tim also offers a wide range of wines to buy and my red cellar has provided great pleasure to my own dinner guests.”

“I’ve been enjoying Tim’s tastings for over 20 years – he is a great teacher, raconteur and wine expert. He is seriously passionate about his wine, but there is nothing serious about his tastings, which are always informal and relaxed. A lovely way to spend an evening and enjoy some fantastic wines.”

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