Monday, 1 February 2010

Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon Tasting

I'd enjoyed the Chateau Musar, Gaston Hochar, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cinsault, 2000 that I had at Cafe St Honore (my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh). When I received details of the Whighams Chateau Musar tasting event I jumped at the chance to attend.

The restaurant area of Whighams provides a nice (if not a bit noisy) setting for regular wine tastings. This one was clearly a popular event and very well attended.

Ralph Hochar (Grandson of the vineyard founder) shared the history of Chateau Musar. Although a winery has stood on the land since 1857 Chateau Musar was founded in 1930, although in the early days the winery produced enough wine for the family to have with their Sunday lunch. Over the years the vineyard developed and with French influence it grew into a more commercially viable outfit. The turning point for success in the UK was the attendance at the Bristol Wine Show (the wine of the time) in 1979.

Chateu Musar wines we tasted:
Mosaic White £10 (blend - Viognier/Chardonnay/Vermintino, no oak)
Mosaic Rose 2006 £10 - (Cinsault, 30-32 hours skin contact)
Mosaic red 2006 £10 - (blend - Cabernet Sauvignon/Cinsault/Syrah, no oak)
White 2007 £20 - (blend - Chardonnay/Semillon (native equivalent of))
Rose 2004 £18 - (blend - Cinsault/Obeideh)
Red 2002 £31 - (blend - Cabernet Sauvignon/Cinsault/Carignan)
Red 1997 £36 - (blend - Cabernet Sauvignon/Cinsault/Carignan)

Mosaic is a new easy drinking range from the vineyard and they are all fresh and clean on the nose. The rose is a really bright ruby red with fresh red fruit on the nose and on the palate, lovely. The red is smooth and balanced and light too, definitely easy drinking.

The Chateau Musar rose is interesting and reminds me of some Southern France roses. It's a pale/orange. On the nose it's fruity, but on the palate it's quite savoury, unusual and and interesting, I had to order some to try it again.

The 1997 & 2002 reds offer something different too, the fruitier 2002 and has hints of cherry oak. The 1997 is more earthy, nicely balanced tannins but some red current. I ordered some of the 1997, just my personal preference as they are both nice wines.

This event provided great insight into Chateau Musar; a family owned and operated vineyard where vintage variance still occurs and the wines offer a few surprises.

A huge thank you to Forth Wines for organising and to Whighams for hosting, a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

You can visit Chateau Musar (flight to Beruit and then a drive), they can only cope with small groups so don't all turn up at once...

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