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Chateau Musar White 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).

Grapes

Merwah, Obaideh

Production

Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar White is a blend of ancient grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, indigenous to the mountains of Lebanon and said to be related to Chasselas Chardonnay and Semillon. The Obaideh vineyards are in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountains on stony, chalky soils, while the Merwah vines are on the seaward side of Mount Lebanon, on calcareous gravels. Yields are very low for these untrained bushvines: 10 – 20 hl per hectare. At high altitude (around 1400m) they are still on their own roots, among very few vineyards in the world of this calibre.

Obaideh 60% Merwah 40%. Obaideh was the first to be picked on 19th September, earlier than usual directly due to the weather conditions, and the Merwah on the 27th September.

Both the Obaideh and Merwah were fermented in new French Nevers oak barrels for 9 months, blended and bottled in the summer of 2018, after cold stabilisation. Powerful aromas pervaded the winery during pressing. Vintage release Spring 2023.

Tasting Notes

Pale lemon colour and a nose of apples, fresh hay with a hint of vanilla and grapefruit citrus notes. There are orange flower notes to the nose which follow through to the palate with sweet basil, peach and tarte tatin flavours which will develop as the wine ages. Our tastings after the harvest at the winery revealed an elegant Obaideh and a ‘wild’ Merwah, perhaps a perfect combination of styles and genuine reflection of the terroir and the ease with which they have adapted to Lebanese conditions over centuries.

The 2017 vintage looks very promising; it would benefit from decanting and, cellared well, it will keep for decades. The quality of the indigenous Obaideh and Merwah exceeded our expectations this year.

What our staff say

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