Chateau Musar 2003

Chateau Musar 2003

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Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan

75cl * 14% ABV * Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Of all the history that influences Serge Hochar and those at Chateau Musar, it is the Roman temple at Ba’albek that holds the most sway. As Serge says: ‘This is the only serious temple erected to Bacchus - the god of wine - anywhere in the Roman world. And they put it here, in the Beka’a. Why? Because the Romans and Greeks, the Phoenicians and Minoans, and all peoples who came before them, all knew that the Beka’a is the spiritual home of wine.’

The 2003 harvest was a unique experience and two words can aptly summarise it: Alcohol & Acidity – this vintage is rich in both. After a rainy winter (the rainiest year in 15 years), from mid April onwards not a drop of rain fell giving way to glorious heat and sunshine. When flowering started in May, a 10 day heat wave reduced the harvest quantity by about 30%. This phenomenon was responsible for the concentration of sugar and acidity in the grapes.

Deep ruby in colour, it has a complex, intriguing array of aromas: toasted bread, cigar box, fresh tea, plums and Eastern spices. On the palate, there are mature fruits: plums, figs and cherries with hints of tea leaves and dark chocolate. The wine is intense; the first taste releasing complex notes of currants, cherries and spice, with a hint of game and finishing with a cleansing acidity.

…this is a ripe, sexy Musar. It retains its elegant mid-palate as well as lovely fruit and fine balance. There is a slightly sweet tinge to the finish, perhaps a touch of a high-toned demeanour. The lush texture and surprising richness make this a rather luscious wine by Musar standards. It is showing little but baby fat right now. Fresh and youthful, it is just a friendly puppy today. I’m not so sure it is in the winery’s preferred style, but it should be a very enjoyable vintage for consumers. Showing not a trace of age, it has a lot of potential and a long life ahead. Neal Martin, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Mid-garnet. Quite a bit deeper and younger-looking than even the 2001. A little marine influence (oyster shells?) on the somewhat reticent nose. Rather different from many of these Musars. Sweet start and very vigorous and fun. If I had not tasted vintages back to 1961 I might have taken this for a fully mature wine. It already gives masses of pleasure with some milk-chocolate notes and quite a bit of light dry tannin on the end. Excellent drive. Long and dramatically big, but with good freshness on the end. Jancis Robinson, March 2018

Before serving, ideally, bottles should be standing up the night before opening to allow the sediment to settle. After careful decanting (and discarding of sediment, usually in the last centimetre of the bottle) the wine should be allowed to breathe for an hour and served at 18°C with roasts, grills (especially lamb), casseroles, game, and mature cheeses.