The Telegraph must have heard we were going to blog Chateau Musar this weekend. There was a chunky (and informative) article by Victoria Moore in Saturday’s edition about the Cinsaut grape and its presence in the Lebanon. What Vicky (if I can call her that) omitted was the grape’s growers need to reduce the yield of this vigorous variety – admittedly this is true of many grapes. It is drought resistant but, I suppose, in very dry conditions, the lack of water concentrates the berries’ flavours.
So, Chateau Musar 1998 from Richard’s flight (more like a full staircase) of wines. The low intensity colours of ruby red with a brick rim were clear and bright. There was a slight oxidised (brett?) smell that I’ve noticed before on Musar, but the lasting impression was one of leanness. It’s difficult to place the smell (VM had the same problem) but our thoughts went to spice, mature red fruits, aromatic and – more out there – cherry menthol Tunes. The palate was light and dry, lean again and fresh but the cherry flavour was now sweet.
As my chum says, Musar’s idiosyncrasy makes it one of the wines from which you can discern “the maker from the taste. It’s an unmistakable wine”. For me, it’s one of those wines which I know I should enjoy more but the ‘should’ imperative doesn’t work in wine appreciation.
[Richard: Chateau Musar has always been one of my favourite wines so I couldn’t resist a half-case of six Musar vintages (WS, about £22 per bottle, averaged.) The’98 was the oldest and had been opened 23h when Geoff tasted it, from a decanter. (The cork crumbled on pulling). An unmistakable aroma and taste and I’d be disappointed if I didn’t recognise it blind. Not many wines you can say that about. It’s never revealed – perhaps they don’t know – exactly what goes into a Musar, although it certainly includes some cinsault which, I think, helps lighten the other grapes – carignan and cabernet. The result is a very lean, intensely savoury wine but one, as Geoff hints, which divides opinion.]