Chateau Musar, that extraordinary Lebanese winery with vineyards deep in the Bekaa Valley, boasts an almost fanatical following. Indeed, two of Musar’s most devoted admirers were my esteemed predecessors — Messrs Waugh and Hoggart — thanks to whom our Wine Club partner, Mr Wheeler, has been wafting Musar under the beaks of Spectator readers very successfully for 20 years.
I’m delighted to report this offer is as enticing as ever and marks the first time that the latest vintage of Musar’s grand vin, the 2011, has been offered to anyone, anywhere.
The 2008 Chateau Musar White (1) is a remarkable wine produced from un-grafted old vines grown in vineyards planted almost 5,000 years ago. A blend of 65 per cent Obaideh (an ancient forbear of Chardonnay) and 35 per cent Merwah (ditto of Sémillon), it’s fermented and aged partly in oak and partly in stainless steel. The result is a gloriously golden-hued wine with hints of peaches, blossom, citrus and spice on the nose and a deliciously creamy, lemony and slightly savoury finish in the mouth. If it’s like anything it’s like a fine white Rhône. £22 down from £25.
The 2014 Musar Jeune Red (2) is an equal blend of old vine Cinsault-Syrah with an added splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s no oak to speak of and it’s designed for uncomplicated and immediate drinking. It’s fresh, vibrant, fruity, soft, succulent and smooth with plenty of ripe red and dark fruit and a whisper of spice. It’s hard not to gulp down, so easy-going is it. £11 down from £12.50.
The 2013 Hochar Père et Fils Red (3) is a slight step up in complexity. Made from low-yielding, single vineyard fruit planted at 1,000 metres above sea level, it’s a familiar blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in oak for nine months.