Monday, October 8, 2007

Three from Chateau Musar

Here are 3 rather brief snapshots of three vintages of Musar. Given that these were tasted a few days after opening it's far from ideal to critique these wines formally. But I'm a pretty informal guy. And besides, I maintain that one can get a pretty good sense of most wines by tasting them on day 2, 3 or even day 4 as in my most recent tasting of Chateau Musar).

Chateau Musar 1999 - Mainly primary, bordering on sweet cherry flavors. It's balanced, slightly spicy, and the most brisk and fruit forward of this line-up. Well balanced, tasty Rhone-like Lebanese red that is more interesting and tastier (not too mention easier to drink at 13.5% alc) than many a CdP out there.

Chateau Musar 1998 - This one is showing a lot more secondary characteristics and appears to be aging quickly. At least that is what this particular bottle was showing me. Still delightful, though. More cinnamon, cocoa and pipe tobacco on the nose, as well as more advancement on the palate.

Chateau Musar 1995 - My favorite. This seems to have more weight and structure than the others with a darker fruit quality and all of the classic Musar cinnamon and exotic spice notes.

Interesting...though geographically the temptation is to equate this with Israeli wine, that of the intensely sunny, very warm, New World style, Chateau Musar really comes across stylistically as firmly in the old world. Or at least that is what the overall balance of nuanced aromas and flavors would suggest. Maybe it's the altitude (1000m), or the limestone based soil? Quite possibly both, combined with Serge Hochar's philosophy, as exemplified by his quote on the Chateau Musar website:

"I once produced a wine that was technically perfect but it lacked the charms of imperfection".


manuel said...

Just curious, Joe: You ever try any older Musar/ I mean the amazing '70. for example. With age, these wines develop into osmething wonderful, truly unique.

Also, Hochar bottles a lovely "négoce" wine that sometimes pops up around these parts and is every bit as wonderful as a young Musar. I affectionately call it "The Musaret", though I think its correct name issimply "Domaine Hochar".


Joe M. said...

Manuel - I tried the '78 but didn't include it in the lineup - something was off with the bottle. What do you think of their whites?