Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 25 March

Wine Club 25 March
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Spectator readers, being wise wine-lovers, are particularly fond of Château Musar, that extraordinary wine born of the Bekaa Valley in the Lebanon. Whenever we offer it in these pages, we promptly sell out.

This is surely our best Musar offer yet, thanks to the canniness of our Wine Club partners Mr.Wheeler. As readers will know, Musar only releases its grand vin when it’s deemed ready to drink and the mighty 2006 has only just had the nod, held back while the 2007, 2008 and 2009 all matured before it.

The Spectator, in cahoots with Mr.Wheeler, has exclusive first dibs on said 2006 Château Musar, two months before anyone else. Not only that, the Château has put aside the last of its 1996 vintage just for us, all 170 bottles of it. No, no, don’t thank me, just fill your boots.

We have the 2007 Château Musar White (1), a complex blend of Obaideh and Merwah, and hands up who’s ever heard of them: two ancient Lebanese varieties, possibly related to Chardonnay and Sémillon. To me, though, the wine tastes most like a fine white Rhône, with its touches of peach and honeysuckle and a long savoury finish. £22 down from £26.

The 2013 Musar Jeune (2), the estate’s unoaked, easy-going entry-level wine, is designed for drinking right now. A blend of Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s soft and smooth, full of blackberries, blackcurrants and cherries. £11 down from £13.

The 2012 Hochar Pere et Fils Red (3) — effectively Musar’s second wine — is a single-vineyard red made from low-yielding old vines. It’s aged in French oak for nine months and is succulent, with dark fruit underpinned by spicy herbs and Grenache sweetness. It ages well too. £13.25 down from £16.

And so to the superb trio of grand vins: the 2006 Château Musar (4), made from Cinsault, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon, with ripe, warming red and black bramble fruit and a mouth-fillingly long finish (£19.75 down from £26); the 2001 Château Musar (5), with the power and structure of both Cabernet and Carignan to the fore rather than the perfumed Cinsault, plus hints of leather and cedar, blackcurrant and cherry fruit and plenty of spice (£26 down from £29); the 1996 Château Musar (6), produced only in tiny quantities and marked by soft, rich fruit and elegance rather than weight and power. Grab it while you can (£33 down from £52).

There are two mixed cases to sample and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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