Château Musar 2017

90 years of excellence from the iconic Lebanese estate
Country, Region: Lebanon, Bakaa Valley
Grape: Cab Sav, Cinsault, Carignan
Vintage: 2017
ABV: 14%
Food friend: Grilled meat
£44.99 Single bottle
Tasting Notes
Producer details
In the vineyard
In the winery
Food Recommendations

The 2017 vintage looks to be very promising indeed, the wines of this year are unique, yet retaining classical Chateau Musar character. It has a bright ruby colour and there are sweet red cherries, mulberries and plums on the nose with a hint of tea tree and liquorice. The tannins are soft and well-integrated and this vintage has good acidity, depth of fruit and a long finish. Cellared well, it will age beautifully for decades.

The Hochar family's philosophy of respect for the environment means that the 220 hectares of Musar vineyards are managed with minimal human interference and all the wines are made with mineral intervention. Chateau Musar was the first producer in Lebanon to achieve organic certification for its own vineyards in 2006. Most are located in the Bekaa Valley, cradled between two mountain ranges running parallel to Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline. Vines have been cultivated here for at least 6,000 years: the Phoenicians (seafaring ancestors of the modern Lebanese) were instrumental in bringing vines and wines from Byblos across to all of the areas around the Mediterranean. Flanked by snow-covered mountains, and nestled at 1000m (3,000 feet) above sea level, the serenely beautiful Bekaa Valley is blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year, fresh mountain breezes and an average temperature of 25°C (encompassing snowy winters and hot summers). Remote and unspoilt, the Musar vineyards were ‘organic' by default before the term was coined.

The year began with high hopes after experiencing above average rain and snowfall in January, leading to expectations that the water table would be replenished. More rain and snow followed in February and non-stop in March but turned into a mild spring with temperatures rising in April, though not excessively. Bud-burst was 10 days later than usual due to low air temperatures and comparatively cold soils. In late April a one day frost hit the Bekaa Valley but at the time was not seen as particularly harmful. The effects of that day were only to be learnt at harvest time, where it transpired that the vines pruned early in the winter has indeed suffered, though Cinsault proved the most resistant. This, combined with a hot June and August resulted in a much smaller yield, concentrating the flavour intensity of the harvested grapes.

Each varietal was fermented with natural yeasts in concrete vats, then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels before blending in early 2020 and bottling without fining or filtration during the summer months. Fermentation proceeded smoothly and temperatures ranged between 27 and 30 degrees. All the wines proved very aromatic and in particular the last Cabernet Sauvignon picked, showed for the first time aromas and flavours of exotic fruits and even guava. Malolactic fermentation finished by 1st November and preliminary tastings showed that 2017 is a different year with more structure and power, reminiscent of 2007, 1997 and 1987 vintages, as if it was a decade style.

The ideal partner to grilled meats or vegetables, but especially good with seasonal flavours of game and wild mushroom. It is equally suited to mature cheese - comte, parmesan or a good cheddar.

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