The red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault. Serge Hochar, who has been involved with the property since 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.
1960 Château Musar ( Lebanon)
The 1960 was the first vintage made with new philosophy brought by Serge Hochar to the wine making process: no additives, no fining, no treatment and no filtration applied to the wines.
This fifty-year old bottle looked like new, and had excellent by the neck level. Very dark, and deep, mature-looking appearance. Sound and clean bouquet with wonderful scented flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry fruit.
Surprisingly full-bodied and complex wine. Still very sweet on the palate with soft, melted tannins and has a long and lingering, smooth aftertaste – Vau, this one was a lot enhanced and more youthful than the previous two bottles I have tasted. The old saying “there are no great wines, only great bottles” rings a bell again! Grand effort Serge!
Lebanon is one of the oldest sites of wine production. The cultivation of the vine goes back to the Phoenicians who traded their wines along the Mediterranean trade routes, introducing viniculture into many parts of southern Europe. Some centuries later, the Romans chose Baalbek in the east of Lebanon as the site to build the Temple of Bacchus as their tribute to the god of wine, a temple that still stands today.
Château Musar, by far the finest and best known of the Lebanon wineries, was established in 1930 by Gaston Hochar in an 17th century castle whose cellars provide storage for over a million bottles of maturing wine. Still a family concern, Château Musar in owned and managed by Gaston's two sons, Serge and Ronald.
Musar is famed for having made wine every year with the exception of 1976. They even continued throughout Lebanon’s long civil war, except for 1984 when their grape trucks were held hostage by practically every political group. Château Musar has had many problems with shells and tanks. In 1983, when battle raged around the vineyards during harvest, Serge Hochar had to be smuggled in by a tiny boat to make the wine. In 1989 the winery suffered direct hits from gunfire, and for a short while the wine cellars served as a trustworthy bomb shelter for both château workers and locals. In spite of the realism that wine making has been a repeatedly dangerous venture in Lebanon, Château Musar has continued to make excellent, long lasting wines. This has continued to be so even though the 36 kilometer drive from the vineyards of the Bekaa Valley, which are remarkably close to the frontline, to Musar´s winery, has so often been a theatre of war.
The eldest son Serge entered the business after completing his oenology diploma in Bordeaux. Serge says that he only seeks to translate what nature intended. He is not looking for varietal or fruit aromas, he wants his wines to speak to him – of the place it comes from and of all that went into it – and for it to integrate with his own brain and history and memories.
–If it doesn't talk to me, I stop drinking. I'm not interested in a wine that's been killed by technology, I want one that vibrates, a true wine.
Soil: gravely soil with a limestone base
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan
Harvest method: hand picked
fermentation takes place followed by maceration lasting 2 to 4 weeks. During the first year the wine is racked into Bordeaux type barrels made from Nevers oak and where it matures from 12 to 15 months. At the end of the second year blending takes place with the proportions of cabernet sauvignon, carignan and cinsault varying with each vintage, the only deciding factor being taste.
During the third year bottling takes place after which the wine is allowed to rest 3 to 4 years in our cellars before release.
Ageing: the wine is aged for up to 24 months in Nevers oak before being bottled and stored in cellars, and only released after its fifth year