Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2004.
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.
* 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 garnet, slight browning to the rim, showing distinct tears.
Nose – clean on the nose, medium (+) intensity, well-developed, with a note of nail varnish first, not overwhelming, rather contributing, perhaps emphasizing the red fruit aromas of cherry in alcohol and red currant, spice, smoke, tobacco and leather. No brett note on this vintage, unlike the 2003.
Palate – a dry wine, medium (+) acidity, smooth textured fully integrated medium (-) tannins, high alcohol – feels more than the declared 14%, full-bodied, with flavours of nail varnish, black cherry, prune, spice, leather, black olives in brine – it just keeps evolving; with a long length.
Quality – these are wines with an interesting character. The 2004 has a perfect balance between acidity and alcohol, which matches the intensity of aroma and flavour. It is complex, continuing to develop as it stand in the glass. This vintage when brought to room temperature in the bottle, was ready to drink within minutes of opening. Other vintages need several hours decanting for the aromas and flavours to emerge, after a minimum of 7 years in bottle.