Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan
75cl * Vegan * 14% ABV * Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Of all the history that influenced the late, great Serge Hochar and those at Château Musar, it was the Roman temple at Baalbek that held the most sway. As Serge said: ‘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 Bekaa. Why? Because the Romans and Greeks, the Phoenicians and Minoans, and all peoples who came before them, all knew that the Bekaa is the spiritual home of wine.’
Château Musar itself is set in the Hochar family's 18th-century castle overlooking the Mediterranean at Ghazir. Musar comes from the Arabic word for the place, M'zar, meaning a place of extraordinary beauty. A good hour from the vineyards in the Bekaa valley, the castle became the winery in 1930 and as the production expanded, deeper cellars were cut into the rugged mountainside. At harvest time the grapes are handpicked by Bedouins at dawn, who then drive them through the mountains to the castle for vinification. All Château Musar wines are at least seven years in the making, with the grapes fermented in cement vats, before being matured for around 12 months in French Nevers (oak barriques), with only a few per vintage being new oak. By the end of the third year the separate grape varieties are blended and then the wine spends three to four years further maturing in the bottle.
1999 was an exceptional year, dubbed "A Cabernet vintage. One of the greatest years of the century. Masculine" by Serge Hochar. The colour of this Chateau Musar 1999 is a brilliant, deep red with a nose full of red and black fruits; cherries and cassis, with nuances of vanilla and chocolate. This follows through to the palate, which is rich, well balanced and powerful. Mellow spices are evident in the beginning, mature red fruits surround very smooth tannins and a hint of orange is apparent on the very long finish.
Drinking window: Now - 2036
"Warm autumnal red colour; mature yet clean and fresh, warm spices on the nose. Seems more ‘southern’ than the 2000, yet retains the classic Musar acidity, all of a piece, totally open now but will keep evolving to 2026." - Steven Spurrier, October 2019
"If the 1997 was Bordeaux-style, this gives more of a nod to the Rhône. An enticing, dangerous scent of violets, game and incense, with a concentrated, full-throttle flavour of dense, sweet fruits." - Andrew Jefford, Decanter Magazine The Magic of Musar, January 2004
"Fans will know what to expect – others will be delighted to discover a rich, dark, velvety wine with cedar, smoke, even chocolate and liquorice, topped off with a wonderfully fragrant perfume." - Simon Hoggart, The Spectator, 28th January 2006