Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Taste of Lebanon

Earlier this week, I was invited to taste the portfolio from Lebanon's Château Musar with Ralph Hochar, one of the winery's owners. Located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, Musar is known for its outstanding flagship red wine--a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan, which is typically released 7 years after vintage.

One interesting fact: all of Musar's vines are grown as bush vines (goblet training)---no wire training is used.

Here are some notes from the tasting:

Cuvée Blanc 2004--made from a native Lebanese grape named Obaideh. It is believed Obaideh is related to the Semillon grape. Intense aromas of almond and citrus followed by a somewhat oily mouthfeel and crisp acidity. Great for seafood.

Château Musar White 1998--blend of the native Marwah and Obaideh grapes. Deep, golden yellow color with notes of banana, mango and almonds. Almost has sherry-like aromas. Rich and complex on the palate with a lingering finish.

Cuvée Rosé 2004--made from 100% Cinsault grapes and produced using the saignée method--where juice is "bled" off of a red wine fermentation which results in pink colored wine. Intense ripe red fruit and strawberry jam notes. Smooth and spicy on the palate. Lingering finish.

Cuvée Rouge 2003--blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan and Syrah. Beautiful ripe strawberry and cherry aromas followed by a smooth, silky mouthfeel. Light-medium bodied with soft tannins.

Hochar Père et Fils Red 2001--blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan. Somewhat of a second wine to the flagship Château Musar Red (see below). Rich and complex. Aromas of dried sweet fig, tobacco, leather. Smooth and silky mouthfeel. Medium bodied with light-medium tannins.

Château Musar Red 1998--blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan--the flagship red wine. Intense aromas of earth, dried red fruits, tobacco and spice. Silky mouthfeel. Well-balanced with light-medium tannins.

Château Musar Red 1997--blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carigan. My favorite of the lot. Robust aromas of dried cranberries, cherry, tobacco and a hint of chocolate. Silky and round on the palate with light-medium tannins.

Photos courtesy of Ralph Hochar, Château Musar.

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