WBW #19 When in Rhone

Wine Blogging WednesdayThank you to Jathan at winexpression.com for choosing this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday topic, When in Rhone, and for doing the summary. I can imagine that most of the other Rhone-style wines will be from new world regions, especially given the vast choice now available in California. This one goes the other direction on the timeline, to an ancient, pre-Rhone region, the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. The 1991 Château Musar Rouge I tasted is blend of the Rhone variety Cinsaut, along with the Bordeaux biggie Cabernet Sauvignon and the Laguedoc workhorse Carignan (which is also a minor Rhone variety). It may also contain a little Syrah and Mourvèdre. Musar doesn’t publish the exact proportions but the Rouge is predominantly Cinsaut and Cabernet Sauvignon with a lesser amount of Carignan. 1991 Château Musar RougeAll self-respecting wine geeks should try Château Musar at least once. Not just because of its unique character but also the historical significance and oddness of its region. The Phoenicians introduced viticulture to the Bekaa Valley 6,000 years ago; it was so renowned for its wines that the Romans erected a temple in honor of Bacchus there in 150 AD. The Bekaa Valley is also one of the most dangerous areas in the world and a hot-bed of regional conflict, especially so during Lebanon’s Civil War. Even while dealing with such non-Napa pests as mortars and shelling, production was only interrupted in 1976 and 1984. The valley is currently controlled by Hezbollah and winemaker Serge Hochar describes Lebanese winemaking in one word: chaos. I could go on and on, but it’s already been said much better by Andrew Jeffords in this article in Decanter. 1991 Château Musar Rouge SightPerfectly aged Bordeaux look-alike, lipid medium/pale brick red with pronounced orange-tinged rim. NoseFairly intense, unique and complex; leathery, berries, blackcurrants with a bit of volatile acidity and vague perfume. A friend once said that the perfume is the same as the winemaker Serge’s cologne, but since I don’t know what brand he wears, I can’t verify this point! PalateVery smooth well integrated tannins and acidity, almost fruity cassis liquor with a very leathery mid-palate, smooth long finish. There is a bit of volatile acidity and I imagine the leather notes to be from Brettanomyces, which means there are two perfectly integrated “faults.” :D Unique, well-made and fascinating, Château Musar has a huge and loyal following in the UK and is readily available here. In the US it’s not so well know although it is imported by Broadbent Selections. £19.50 ($33.86) at Arthur Purchase & Son, Chichester, UK

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  • […] Digging down into the cellar a bit, Steve from De Long Wine Moment had the 1991 Château Musar Rouge a Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon (wait a sec! disqualified! ), and Carignane blend hailing to us from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. I guess this Lebanese wine has a bit of a following in the U.K. and a small one in the U.S. (mainly Cincinnati). […]

    Winexpression » Blog Archive » Wine Blogging Wednesday #19 When in Rhone Roundup on
  • Hi Jens,

    Now there’s a unique one and perhaps weirder than the red! I like it as well but it doesn’t seem like a wine destined for a huge market with its slightly oxidized flavors. Adding oxidation to the Brett and VA in the red, it seems that Musar could be the world leader in well-integrated wine “faults”!

    Steve De Long on
  • My new favourite white is the 1998 Musar Blanc! Chateau Musar has a small following even in the Midwest.

    jens at cincinnati wine warehouse on
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