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Chateau Musar Red 2017

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Producer Information

It was in 1930 that Gaston Hochar, of Lebanon's Chateau Musar, planted his first vineyards, after returning from Bordeaux. Major Ronald Barton (of Chateau 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's 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.

Grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan

Production

We began the year with high hopes after experiencing above average rain and snowfall in January, leading to expectations that the water table would be replenished. More rain and snow followed in February and non-stop in March but turned into a mild spring with temperatures rising in April, though not excessively. In fact, opening of buds on the vines was 10 days later than usual due to low air temperatures and comparatively cold soils. In late April a one day frost hit the Bekaa Valley but at the time was not seen as particularly harmful. We were only to learn of the effects of that day at harvest time when it transpired that the vines pruned in early winter had indeed suffered, though Cinsault proved the most resistant. On the 24th June, the temperature reached 37 degrees and this heat continued until mid-August affecting the vines and grapes resulting in lower yields. We started harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon on the 22nd August, Cinsault the 4th September and Carignan on the 7th.

An equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan.

Each varietal was fermented with natural yeasts in concrete vats, then aged for 12 months in French Nevers oak barrels before blending in early 2020 and bottled without fining or filtration during the summer months. Fermentation proceeded smoothly and temperatures ranged between 27 and 30 degrees. All the wines proved very aromatic and in particular the last Cabernet Sauvignon picked, showed for the first time, aromas and taste of exotic fruits and even guava. Malolactic fermentation finished by 1st November and preliminary tastings showed that 2017 is a different year with more structure and power, reminding us of 2007, 1997 and 1987 vintages, as if it was a decade style.

Tasting Notes

Our 2017 vintage looks to be very promising indeed, the wines of this year are unique, yet retaining classical Chateau Musar character. Three factors come to our minds, the similarity in style of the different decades ending in 7, the taste of the last vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon harvested and powerful aromas. It has a bright ruby colour and there are sweet red cherries, mulberries and plums on the nose with a hint of tea tree and liquorice. The tannins are soft and well-integrated and this vintage has good acidity, depth of fruit and a long finish. Cellared well, it will age beautifully for decades.

What our staff say

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