2017 Chateau Musar Bekaa Valley White
Chateau Musar is considered one of the most special wine estates in the world. On the one hand this is the location, the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, on the other hand they still use a completely traditional working method. The vineyards are located on siliceous lime-clay soils at an altitude of about 1000 meters. The long, warm summers guarantee excellent ripening of the grapes. Owner Serge Hochar, who in the past was named Winemaker of the Year by the English magazine Decanter Magazine, received his wine training in France and this also explains why Musar is also called the Bordeaux of the Middle East
In the white Musar we see two native grape varieties: obeideh and merwah. Obeideh is close to chardonnay and sémillon; merwah against chasselas. The vineyards are located at an altitude of 1200 meters and the harvest starts with white, between October 5 and 15. After fermentation, the white Château Musar is aged in French oak barrels for nine months. It is then blended and bottled and left to mature for a very long year in the cellar. The Musar White is light golden yellow in color with a slightly oxidative touch of the obeideh, while the taste stands out for its enormous vitality with aromas of citrus and a good balance between fat and acids. This is indeed a white wine for storage, to be drunk between 10 and 15 years old, even older. It is also a shame to drink this white wine too cold. The recommended drinking temperature is 14 °C.
The white Château Musar is a unique wine. It has a Bordeaux-like character, despite the use of its own unique grape varieties such as Obaideh (the local variant of Chardonnay) and Merwah, a grape that is somewhat similar to Sémillon. It is especially reminiscent of an aged white Graves, due to its dry, rich, almost honey-like character. The grapes are harvested from bush vines, with yields of no more than 10 to 20 hectoliters per hectare. The vineyards are partly located at high altitudes, up to 1400 meters, on the slopes of Mount Lebanon. In combination with the perfectly ripe grapes, this gives the white wine enormous richness and aromatic power, balanced by beautiful acids and bitters. The white wine undergoes maturation in oak barrels from the Nevers region for nine months. It is then kept in the bottle for no less than seven years until it is marketed. That makes this a special white wine, with a unique, beautifully matured character.
Viticulture is not new in Lebanon, in the Beeka Valley. A bronze press wine press was found there (the Phoenicians were active here). The famous Bacchus temple in Baalbek testifies that the Romans already made wine there. The Beeka Valley is ideal for grape cultivation. The valley is about eight kilometers wide and lies between two mountain ranges at about a thousand meters height. The climate is extremely warm. Fortunately, the height ensures a strong night-time cooling. As a result, the fruity aromas are preserved in the grapes. Thanks to snow from the mountains, sufficient water flows in the Valley. The substrate consists of a mixture of loam, boulders and gray limestone. The microclimate is so ideal that the vines usually remain in perfect health. The ongoing war violence in this region is a negative factor. But despite that, people have always continued to make wine. Only in the years 1976 and 1984 no wine was made because of the war. The grapes had to be transported across the line of fire about 100 km to the winery just north of Beirut. After more than a thousand years of alcoholic draining as a result of Islam, the Jesuits started growing wine again in 1857. Gaston Hochar founded the wine company Chateau Musar in 1930. Lebanon was then still under French mandate. He bought his grapes from the Beeka Valley and made a winery and cellar on the western side of the mountain in Lebanon in Ghazir, just north of Beirut. French professors advised him on setting up his wine company.
He sent his son Serge on an internship to Bordeaux (Château Langoa-Barton). It is this Serge Hochar who has made the wines of Château Musar known worldwide. Serge Hochar consciously opts for a blend, in which the firm, sturdy and firm structure of the Cabernet Sauvignon is accompanied by the fruit “of the Rhône” (Carignan and Cinsault). Such a blend hardly occurs elsewhere. He himself says that his wines are made in a very natural way, with natural yeasts, without clarification and without filtering. "They are wines without make-up." The red castle wines are aged for an average of 12 months in French barrels, which are not toasted. This is followed by years of cellar rest. At the end of the second year after harvest, the blend is determined with the sole decision factor being the taste. Each vintage is different and has its own characteristics. The red Château Musar is an extraordinary traditional wine, if not old-fashioned in style. Its color is never really dark and usually brownish, with spices and a mild spiciness in both the aroma and taste. The wine can age very well. Serge Hochar finds them at their best after fifteen years. They are wines with their own style.
|Type of Wine||White|
|Drinking as of||2023|
|Tasting Profiles||Dry, Aged on wood, Powerful, Rich, Round, Full, White fruit|
|Drink moments||Barbecue, Cadeau!, Lekker luxe, Met vrienden, Open haard, Romantisch|