Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2003.
Cabernet sauvignon, cinsault and carignan, 14% abv, natural cork closure; Wine Society and others, just about £20 now.
These wines are released 7 years after vintage. They benefit from further ageing to 10 or 15 years after vintage
On opening – typical entry aromas on this wine are *volatile acidity or VA (think of acetone, nail varnish ) and **brettanomyces, one of the yeasts present during vinification (think farmyard) – this is the Musar style. With a bit of airing, read several hours decanted into a big jug, these aromas become less dominant and crushed rose petals start to emerge, with hints of over-ripe red cherry, leather, spice and savoury notes.
Try rebottling after decanting, pump the air out, and taste on day 2 – black currant notes start to emerge … these wines are so complex.
* Volatile acidity arises from oxidation of alcohols, producing acetic acid, in Musar this is allowed to such a degree that it rises above the sensory threshold, as part of the character of the wine.
** Brettanomyces or brett, is allowed to infect the wine to detectable levels as part of the wine’s profile.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance – medium intensity ruby, raspberry juice rim, showing distinct tears.
Nose – clean on the nose, medium (+) intensity, well developed, with aromas of spice, sweet red cherries, a savoury note with just a hint of farmyard and VA.
Palate – a dry wine, medium (+) acidity, smooth fine textured medium (-) tannins, high alcohol, medium bodied, medium (+) intensity, with flavours of prune, spice, leather, a hint of liquorice, with a medium (+) length and clean finish.
Quality – these are wines with an interesting character, they are well balanced and complex, but do need several hours decanting for the aromas and flavours to emerge, after a minimum of 7 years in bottle.