It was in 1930 that Gaston Hochar, of Lebanon's Chateau Musar, planted his first vineyards, after returning from Bordeaux. Major Ronald Barton (of Cháteau Langoa-Barton), who was stationed in Lebanon during World War II, befriended Gaston Hochar, strengthening links with Bordeaux and influencing the Musar style.
Gaston's first son, Serge, became Chateau Musars winemaker in 1959, while completing his winemaking studies at the University of Oenology in Bordeaux, under the tutorage of Jean Riberau and Emile Peynaud. 3 years later, Ronald Hochar (Gaston's second son) takes over the financial and marketing aspects of the winery.
It wasn't until 1977 that Serge Hochar finalised the formula for Chateau Musar Reds. 2 years later, Michael Broadbent discovers' Chateau Musar at the Bristol Wine Fair, hailing the 1967 vintage as the “Find of the Fair". Chateau Musar opens its UK Company to develop its sales into the UK market and thereafter into Europe.
In 1984, Decanter magazine nominates Serge Hochar as their first Man of the Year', recognising his dedication to producing superb wines throughout Lebanon's Civil War (1975-1990).
The family tradition continued in 1994 when Gaston Hochar, Serge's son joins the winery, to later become its managing director and again in 2003 when Ralph Hochar, Ronald's son joins the UK office in charge of sales in the on-trade.
2006 saw Chateau Musar obtains its first official, Organic certification for some of its vineyards.
Most recently in 2010, Serge Hochar receives the lifetime achievement award from the German magazine Der FeinSchmeker. Also Marc Hochar, Serge's second son, joins his brother Gaston to help run and expand the winery's activities.
The Chateau Musar' range of wines are this houses most famous range of wines. These are their Grands Vins', each with their unique signature and imprint in the world of wine. Since 1930, every aspect of production, grape sourcing, fermentation, oak-ageing and bottle maturation, has been trialled to achieve the ultimate expression of Musar's specific terroirs' (site-specific interactions of soil, vine, climate and time).
Organic from the outside, Chateau Musar’s red vineyards are siruated towards the Southern end of the Bekka Valley, North of Lake Qaroun and about 30km South-East of Beirut. They lie near the villages of Aana and Kefraya on a range of gravelly soils over limestone – ideally suited to viticulture. The wide range of soil types and aspects results in wines of distinctive character and blends of appealing complexity.
Very low rainfall during October and November 2013, where precipitation did not exceed 18mm. This trend continued into the New Year – no rain, snow or cold weather and only two stormy days affecting no more than 20% of the country! February and March were the driest and it seems as if this winter was an extension of summer 2013. April, May, June and July, where buds open and flowering occurs was perfect for the vines, but with one very important element missing for summer survival - water. By early August, the vines were starting to suffer badly. Sugar content in Cabernet Sauvignon rose drastically while acidity was stable. The varietal lost 40% of its weight due to lack of moisture and the hard work started on the first day of the red grape harvest - four teams harvesting simultaneously for the first time in Chateau Musar history. Carignan was also affected but not to the same degree, while the survivor of them all was, as usual, the Cinsault.
An equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan.
Each varietal was fermented with natural yeasts in concrete vats. Due to the high sugar content, Cabernet Sauvignon was very slow to start, and fermentation was controlled at a lower temperature than usual to ensure its completion. Carignan was also very slow, however Cinsault survived the crisis and fermented normally with elegance and style. The wines were aged for 12 months in French oak barrels before blending in January 2017 and then bottled without fining or filtration in July & August 2017. The bottles are aged in the Chateau Musar cellars before their release in 2021.
A deep red colour, with aromas of sweet cherry, plum and dried fruit together with a subtle spice element and hint of tobacco. The wine has a soft, rounded mouthfeel with lots of flavour and fruit concentration – caramel, mocha, ripe red fruits which are supported with soft, velvety tannins and a spicy finish.