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Château Musar, Grand VinBekaa Valley, Lebanon 2001 (750mL)  |  FREE Shipping on any 6 bottles!

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Château Musar, Grand Vin Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 2001 (750mL)

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Though I’m currently in the midst of my career, I’ve learned there are only but a few bottles that qualify for my price-to-quality “Dream Team.” These are extraordinary, needle-in-a-haystack wines that must be savored and thoroughly studied by anyone who lifts stemware. One of those bottles is a late cellar-release Château Musar, which is why today’s epic 2001 should trigger a collective dropping of jaws. This perfectly preserved decades-old bottle is an essential, impossible-to-simulate experience—one that it exists in the highest echelon of fine wine. That said, even Musar’s fine wine cohorts are forced to stand back in wonderment at today’s legendary value: With 19 years of maturity, inimitable pedigree, and intricate complexities, this 2001 cannot be matched. It has no equal. Read on to discover why...

Lebanon’s Château Musar is one of the greatest—a compelling argument could be made for the greatest—estates in modern history. Their soul-stirring and seemingly ageless library releases have dazzled sommeliers and collectors for decades on end, and the intrigue keeps surging with today’s late-release 2001. Of course, the world has become increasingly aware of the wizardry radiating from this historic Lebanese estate, and Musar’s back-vintage library has taken a major hit. All around the globe, you’ll find top Michelin-starred restaurants and collectors hoarding vintages dating back decades. Put simply, finding/enjoying mature Musar grows more infrequent with each passing day—and yet each old masterpiece remains affordable to all. What other wine in the world can say that? 


Bordeaux is a useful comparison in that Château Musar’s founder, Gaston Hochar, was of French descent and studied winemaking in Bordeaux. His son, Serge, who died at age 75 in 2014, also studied in Bordeaux, under famed enologist Émile Peynaud. And yes, Musar utilizes a healthy dose of Cabernet Sauvignon to create their ethereal, long-lived reds. But again, Château Musar is really unlike anything else. Grown in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near its eastern border with Syria, and vinified just outside Beirut, Musar wines aren’t just a good story—what’s in the bottle is for real.

Of course, there was Lebanese wine during ancient times, but viticulture had been all but abandoned when Gaston Hochar established Musar in 1930. His first good customers were French soldiers (France occupied Lebanon at that time), but the wines didn’t really catch on internationally until the late 1970s, when they were “discovered” at a wine fair in the United Kingdom. At this point, it was Gaston’s son, Serge, making the wine. Having spent well over 18 years perfecting their flagship red, the worldwide acclaim that Serge had worked for came with a bittersweet taste: Lebanon was embroiled in a decades-long civil war. Somehow, the Hochars continued to produce wine throughout the gut-wrenching conflict, literally trucking their grapes through war zones and, occasionally, using their cellar as a bomb shelter. That’s what prompted Decanter to award Serge their inaugural “Man of the Year” title in 1984 and, much later on, a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from a German publication.

Serge Hochar, who originally took over the winemaking in 1959, was widely known and loved in the wine community for his charm and his philosophical bent—given what he went through to make wine, he was entitled to his cryptic pronouncements. He was a ‘natural’ winemaker before that was a thing (organic vine work; native yeast fermentations; minimal use of sulfur), and he was also inclined to hold wines in his cellar for many years before releasing them. As he once quipped to the British wine writer Andrew Jefford: “The value of our stock is ten times our annual sales.” 

This 2001 is a heavy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Carignan and a touch of Cinsault grown in gravelly soils at high elevations. These elevations temper the otherwise arid Mediterranean climate of the Bekaa Valley. Additionally, some of the vines here date back to the 1930s and yields are EXTREMELY low. All this creates a wine with the ultimate marriage of subtle power, complexity, and grace. In the winery, the grapes underwent a months-long, variety-separate, natural fermentation in concrete vessels before being transferred into French oak barrels for one year. The individual varietal wines were then blended together and sent into cement tanks yet again before being bottled, unfined and unfiltered, in the Summer of 2004. After a couple more years of bottle aging, the wine was released to the public—but not today’s batch. Obviously, it’s a classic, if not extreme, example of Hochar’s willingness to effectively age the wine before selling it to you. 

One thing is always certain with old Musar: If blind-tasting, one smell will instantly take you to a high-end price range, and yet even with undercover international acclaim and nearly 20 years of age, the wines remain shockingly affordable. That’s the ongoing beauty of Musar. For this particular bottle, I went with a double decant and was greatly rewarded so it may pay off to follow this step by step. Three hours before sitting down to devour a succulent main course of lamb, I gently extracted the cork and slowly decanted the wine, stopping just shy of the finish to avoid the slight bit of sediment. Immediately after, I then rinsed the bottle with purified water and carefully poured the wine back in. I re-applied the cork loosely, and awaited dinner. Cu to three hours later, and I served the wine around 60 degrees in Bordeaux stems—what a stunner.

The wine revealed a deep ruby-garnet core moving out to a bright brick-orange rim and started unfurling with a multi-layered, aromatic ensemble consisting of dried red currant, raspberry liqueur, garrigue, cigar wrapper, loose tobacco, cacao, vintage leather, red plum, fig, tapenade, mushroom, nutmeg shavings, Chinese Five Spice, and a touch of barnyard. The palate was the medium-plus bodied, ethereal Musar that I’ve come to respect and love. Vibrant red/black fruit fills the mouth alongside a complex cast of exotic spice and earth, all of which melts into a long, mineral, savory finish. In the right ambiance, this wine evokes powerful emotion—like mature Bordeaux or Rhône—and keeps you captivated long after the last drop. I’ll say it again: This 2001 deserves to be in the hands of every soul who counts themselves as an admirer and student of fine wine. Enjoy now and over the following decade. Cheers. 




Château Musar, Grand Vin Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 2001 - SommSelect

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  • CountryLebanon
  • RegionBekaa Valley
  • SoilGravel & Clay
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendMostly Cabernet Sauvignon w/ Carignan & Cinsault
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakMostly Neutral French
  • Service Temp.60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkNow-2030
  • DecantingDouble Decant
  • PairingBazella Riz Lahme

  • CountryLebanon
  • RegionBekaa Valley
  • SoilGravel & Clay
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendMostly Cabernet Sauvignon w/ Carignan & Cinsault
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • OakMostly Neutral French
  • Temp.Serve at 60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2030
  • DecantingDouble Decant
  • PairingBazella Riz Lahme

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