2004 Chateau Musar "Musar" Cuvee Rouge Bekaa Valley Lebanon
Gaston Hochar et fils (distributed in NYC by Lauber Imports)
Suggested retail price $14-$16
Have you ever tasted a wine from Lebanon? No? Well, in my opinion, you should at least try one once. Brands like Ksara, Massaya and Kefraya are making very good, consistent wines. However, one of my old time favorites is: Chateau Musar.
So tonight, I came back home with a bottle of Musar Cuvee rouge 2004 (2nd wine of Chateau Musar) and I need to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I have been selling Chateau Musar for the past 10 years at least (in restaurants and retails) and I've always enjoyed it (even when some vintages were tannic, thin, dirty and tight...). However, it seems that the wine is even better and cleaner now than it has ever been.
I remember drinking the 1991 by the late 90's, the wine was really earthy, slightly dull, full of sediments, very interesting but mostly for wine connoisseurs and wine geeks. It seems that this time has past and that Musar has evolved to please a much larger crowd (don't get me wrong, I didn't say that it was commercial, only that now even none wine connoisseurs will have a greater interest to taste it and appreciate it).
A blend of Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Syrah, produced with the same philosophy as the first wine, Musar Cuvee Rouge 2004 (which is the second wine of Chateau Musar), is a great little wine, juicy and very approachable. The color is light, bright ruby red. The nose is ripe with red cherry and wild dark berry aromas enhanced by floral and spicy notes. The attack on the palate is juicy, vivid and quite fruity (not as in sweet, but as in able to distinguish and taste the fruit flavors). Overall, the balanced mid-palate offers great acidity and lovely flavors of wild red and black berries, with hints of purple flowers, leather and spices. The finish is fairly long, earthy with present yet integrated, refined tannins. I liked it a lot (and my wife too).
It is a good compromise for somebody who is looking for a good, affordable, everyday drinking, earthy wine that is not too light not too heavy but has good structure, texture, freshness and character. It has a certain way to express the uniqueness of Lebanon Terroir. In a blind tasting, one could easily compare it, in some ways, to a Bordeaux, a Rioja or even a Tuscan wine.
For some of you that stopped drinking Musar a few years ago for some of the bad flaws mentioned above or any other reasons, trust me, it is time to give Musar a second chance and realize how new technology and organic farming really increased the wine qualities of this famous winery. (Gaston Hochar has always used organic farming within the vineyards and during the vinification in the cellar, but the winery is now certified which should increase the image of the brand and generate more sales from the fast, growing organic wine buyers market).
It will be interesting to taste the Chateau Musar 2004 (itself), but the current release is 1999, so we will have to wait a few more years. However, if it is (as usual) bigger, better, richer, longer and more complex than Musar Cuvee Rouge, the 2004 Chateau Musar should be great and worth waiting for it.
for more info go to their website at: www.chateaumusar.com
LeDom du Vin