Chateau Musar, Wine of Lebanon, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2003
On red Chateau Musar
This cuvee is released 7 years after vintage, and benefits from further ageing to 10, 15, 20 years or more, post-vintage.
Typical entry aromas include *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, VA and brett. And I do recall a touch of VA on a Chateau Kefraya or Chateau Ksara at LIWF in 2012, so I wonder if this is becoming a regional style. After an hour or so decanting, VA and brett 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.
This wine: lot No. L.6.179-02-C.18.047, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cinsault and carignan; the varieties are fermented separately in concrete vat, then transferred, 6 months post-harvest, to Nevers oak for 1 year; 2 years post harvest the blend is made up, then put back into concrete vat for 12 months, before bottling and pre-release ageing, in cellar, over a further 4 years; 14% abv, coated natural cork closure; widely available, Waitrose offer, £21 (11/18)
Consumer tasting note: unmistakably Chateau Musar – with an opening profile of low-key nail varnish and farm-yard, leading to highly complex aromas of stewed and confected red fruits, spice, tea rose, liquorice and sweet tobacco; the medium-full palate, dry and smooth, follows this lead, with a balancing sweetness of rich stewed red fruit and jam, raisin and dried currant, and liquorice. Easily a long length, with a rich lingering finish.
Drink now – RTD, but will keep – Wait. Decant for 60 minutes plus.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity garnet, showing tears [a miniscule quantity of fine sediment].
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of high-toned very ripe red berries, low-key brett, spice, kirsch, a whiff of rich tea rose, stewed red cherry, dark cherry jam, whiff of vanilla, beeswax, red plum jam, a little earthiness, warm leaf humus, touch of cedar-oak, hint of prune, black liquorice, dried rose bud, hint of sweet tobacco.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, ripe medium (+) tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium (+) bodied, medium (+) intensity, a smooth texture with sensation of rich sweetness in mid-palate, with flavours of stewed red cherry, spicy, dried cranberry, tinned strawberry, dark glace cherry, black berry jam, dried currant, hints of raisin, cedary hints, hint of black liquorice. A long length with a clean dried and stewed red fruit finish with a moderate grip.
Quality: outstanding, well-balanced fresh(ish) acidity and ripe tannins with the well-integrated alcohol; altogether harmonious; strong intensity throughout with a little lesser concentration; showing a well-developed profile of high complexity, with evidence of time in very well-integrated oak (cedar, oak, spice, vanilla) and bottle (cedar, dried flowers, dried currant, earthy, leaf humus, raisin). Finishes easily long.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: can drink now, but has potential for further aging over say 2-3 years – a sound structure and perfect balance, lots of intensity, concentration and complexity, beautifully sweet in mid-palate, with no sense of drying out – with still some room for development, in way of a deepening and broadening of the tertiary dimension.