Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley, Wine of Lebanon, Lebanon, 2001
This wine: a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cinsault and carignan, natural cork closure, 13.5% abv, widely available, £18 (2010)
Consumer tasting note: fully developed with a lovely garnet hue, some might say this is porty, but the profile is unmistakably The Lebanon, and Musar with its touch of VA, with some certainty. I seem to remember at LIWF perhaps 3 years ago, when I tasted the Lebanon stand, that young Ksara and Massaya also showed a touch of VA, so I wonder if this is a stylistic choice ie part of the terroir. Anyway, a strong nose of dried red berries and kirsch, supported by spices, toast (which becomes more apparent with time), leather and nuts. Medium bodied, with fully rounded tannins supported by fresh acidity, and a palate of dried red berries, spice and sweet dried red pepper, leading into a long length. Decant for an hour is sufficient, but a further 2 or 3 do no harm.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity garnet, showing tears, and a small quantity of sediment.
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, fully developed, with aromas as they come, of slightly high-toned but dulled kirsch, fresh and dried leaves, low-key meatiness, leather, hazelnut, a faint toastiness, old cinnamon, dried currants, dried cranberries, black liquorice, dry prune, dried red pepper.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, fine-grained medium (-) well-integrated tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium body, medium (+) intensity, a sense of sweetness in mid-palate – aka sucrosity, with flavours of dried fruits – red cherry, cranberry and currants, low-key toast and cinnamon, dried date, sweet dried red pepper. A long length with a clean dried red berry finish with a touch of VA, and a slight bitterness on the end.
Quality: outstanding, perfectly balanced fresh acidity and completely rounded tannins with alcohol, harmonious with the strong flavour intensity and resounding concentration. Fully developed, very complex on the nose, less so on the palate, with evidence of time in oak and bottle, showing a profile of dried berries, liquorice, nuts, spices and leather. Follows into the anticipated long length.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, fully developed, but has the structure, flavour concentration and indicative length, to suggest will keep for another 3-5 years.