75cl * Vegan * 11.5% 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.’
Chateau Musar White is a truly unique wine, made from ancient Lebanese grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, dating back thousands of years. Reputedly, the ancestors of Chardonnay/Chasselas and Semillon, they are among only 6 indigenous grapes still cultivated in Lebanon. The vineyards were planted between 50-90 years ago, at round 1,300 metres above sea level in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains on stony, chalky soils, and on the seaward side of Mount Lebanon, on calcareous gravels. The vines remain phylloxera-free and on original rootstocks.
Wholly unique, the style has been described as resembling ‘dry Sauternes’ or mature white Graves. Chateau Musar Whites develop tawny hues and mellow spicy characters as they age. The cellars at Ghazir holds bottles of this wine dating as far back as 1954.
Pale yellow-gold, subtly oaky, and creamy textured, this white Musar is rich yet dry and intensely citrusy, with honeyed nuances. A nose of apples, fresh hay with a hint of vanilla, orange flower and grapefruit citrus notes follow through to the palate with sweet basil, peach and tarte tatin flavours which will develop as the wine ages. 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 expectations this year.
Drinking window: Now - 2035