In youth, Chateau Musar Reds are dense and richly-textured, with intense baked fruit characters: plums, damsons, cranberries, cherries, figs and dates. Bordeaux grape Cabernet Sauvignon lends black fruit flavours; Rhne grapes Cinsault and Carignan contribute fragrance (violets; pepper) and supple spiciness. Either set of qualities might dominate a particular vintage, but the style is always emphatically Lebanese: enticingly aromatic, with persistent fruit flavours. Over decades the wines acquire tawny hues and mellow notes. We still offer wines from the 1950s: mesmerising artefacts of vintage.
Grapes and vines
Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault from vineyards near the Bekaa Valley villages of Ammiq, Aana and Kefraya on gravelly soils over limestone. Planted from the 1930s onwards, yields are low from these mature bushvines (average age: 40 years): 35hl per hectare.
The varietal components in Chateau Musar Red undergo lengthy fermentations in cement-lined vats at temperatures below 30C. Racked from their yeast lees 6 months after the harvest they are transferred into French barrels (oak from the forest of Nevers, one-third new each vintage) for one year.
The varietal components are brought together two years after the harvest; the resulting blend is then placed back in cement-lined tanks before being bottled 12 months later. Each wine is blended to reflect the strengths of the vintage: in hotter years, Cabernet Sauvignon might dominate (the thick-skinned grapes fare better in the heat); cooler conditions can favour the Cinsault grape. After 4 years bottle maturation in the deep stone cellars of Chateau Musar, the finished wines are released a full seven years after the harvest.