We recently re-tasted some vintages of Musar and reminded ourselves of what a classic but also infinitely varied wine this is. We were particularly impressed by the 2002 vintage, a parcel of which we now offer at £260 DP per dozen, equivalent to just £26 per bottle inc VAT.
Musar is often compared to claret, but a key difference is that Serge Hochar wanted each vintage to have its own character, unlike Bordeaux, where careful blending reduces the impact of vintage variation (you can read more about Serge Hochar and Musar's story here). After 18 years, the 2002 Musar is elegant, beautifully balanced and only now reaching its peak.
The 2002 growing season in the Bekaa Valley came on the heels of four years of drought. By contrast, '02 was cold and wet, until June, followed by a mild July and a hot August. The result was a slow start to ripening, with the harvest starting two weeks later than normal, in mid-September. The fermentation was also unusually slow and cool. This unusual combination resulted in fruit with high levels of tannin and sugar, but also high acidity. The final blend is roughly a third each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan, aged for 12 months in Nevers oak.
The 2002 is a great reminder that the Bekaa Valley is bordered by the Anti-Lebanon mountains, home to several ski resorts. The climate is more moderate than one might think and this certainly shows through in this vintage. As well as marvellous structure, this is beginning to show some of the developed complexity we look for in after nearly two decades of ageing, in the perfect conditions of Musar's own cellars.
Musar have also helpfully produced a guide to opening older vintages (known for their rather crumbly corks) which you can see below, presented by Ralph Hochar.
Offered duty paid and available for delivery in late September.
2002 Château Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Very classic broad brick-red colour at the rim, but with plenty of vibrancy of colour. Some sous bois aromas on the nose, followed by plum and cherry fruit on the mid-palate with fine, melting tannins and remarkably fresh acidity which lifting the fruit and giving an impression of freshness all the way through to the finish. There is also some carefully managed volatile acidity which gives away the origins as being outside Bordeaux, as well as some smoky, cedary notes on the palate. The weight and intensity on the palate would stand comparison with some Pauillac fifth growths...hence brilliant value. RKL
"Deep garnet colour, maturity on the rim, autumnal berries on the nose over cedary flavours, maturity showing with a quite rich middle palate that has retained a youthful acidity to lift the finish, overall an elegant Musar that will stay that way to 2030". Steven Spurrier, September 2019