Chateau Musar was established in 1930 by Gaston Hochar at the tender age of 20. His inspiration was both the 6,000-year winemaking history of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and also his time in Bordeaux – a connection which was strengthened during the Second World War when he befriended Major Ronald Barton of Château Langoa-Barton while he was stationed in Lebanon. In 1959 he graciously stepped aside for his two eager sons Serge and Ronald. Today it is overseen by the third generation: like their father and uncle, Serge’s eldest son Gaston now manages the day-to-day operation of the winery whereas his younger son Marc helps to control the commercial aspects. Ronald’s son Ralph also works in Musar’s UK office, and his daughter Elsa has immortalised the winery and her family’s rich history in a documentary.
The Musar property is located in the southern end of Bekaa Valley, around 30km north of Beirut. Here the altitude and shelter from surrounding mountains provide excellent growing conditions; the Bekaa valley is almost completely disease and frost free with long mild summers and just enough rain in the winter. The wide range of gravelly soils over limestone is also ideal for viticulture. The red grapes – cabernet sauvignon, cinsault and carignan – are grown on mature, low-yielding vines for extra concentration, whereas the white grapes are indigenous varieties are better suited to higher altitude - some are grown as high as 1500m above sea level. Picking is done by hand in the cool mornings to preserve freshness, and all of Musar’s wines are produced with minimum intervention. Wines are made with the minimum of sulphur and are not fined or filtered.
Chateau Musar has been described by many as one of the great wines of the world, and it is certainly eccentric and intriguing in style. The third generation continues to build on Serge Hochar’s artistic craftsmanship. He has been quoted as saying “I once produced a wine that was technically perfect but it lacked the charms of imperfection”, and the ultimate aim is still to make Musar in the most natural and authentic way, but with a touch of fascinating volatility.
Wines on Tasting:
- Chateau Musar 2012
- Chateau Musar 2005
- Chateau Musar 2003
- Chateau Musar 2002
- Chateau Musar 2001
- Chateau Musar 2000
- Chateau Musar 1998
- Chateau Musar 1997
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