Chateau Musar whites are truly unique, produced from some of the oldest vineyard sites in the world dating back to 5,000 BC, although it was the Phoenicians, the great maritime race of the Mediterranean, who first ‘introduced’ Lebanese wine to a wider audience. Indigenous ancient grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, reputedly the ancestors of Chardonnay/Chasselas and Semillon are still cultivated from un-grafted vines on original rootstock. The vineyards on the seaward facing slopes of Mount Lebanon and the foothills of Anti-Lebanon were planted between 50 and 90 years ago and are at 1,200 metres above sea level – few vineyards of this calibre and history remain in the world today.A guide to the style In their youth: yellow-gold, subtly oaky, and creamy-textured, rich yet dry and intensely citrusy, with honeyed nuances. Wholly unique, the style has been described as resembling ‘dry Sauternes’ or mature white Graves. Chateau Musar Whites develop tawny hues and mellow spicy characters as they age. The cellars at Ghazir holds bottles of this wine dating as far back as 1954.Grapes and vines
Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar White is a blend of ancient grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, indigenous to the mountains of Lebanon and said to be related to Chasselas Chardonnay and Semillon. The Obaideh vineyards are in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountains on stony, chalky soils, while the Merwah vines are on the seaward side of Mount Lebanon, on calcareous gravels. Yields are very low for these untrained bushvines: 10 – 20 hl per hectare. At high altitude (around 1400m) they are still on their own roots, among very few vineyards in the world of this calibre.Decanting and serving
Concentrated and complex, Chateau Musar Whites show at their best after several hours’ ‘breathing time’, and should be served ‘cellar cool’ at around 15°C. They excel with pâtés (especially foie gras), rillettes, seafood dishes and will match spicy food as the wine has such intense flavours.
The 2012 vintage was fermented and aged partly in new oak barrels for 9 months and partly in stainless steel vats with temperatures ranging between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. Vintage release in 2020 – cellared well it will keep for decades.
Fine lemon-yellow, bright and still fresh-looking but also showing some reassuring maturity; dry honey on the nose, dry spices with a controlled richness of fruit on the palate that reminds me of Ygrec: complex and dry with sweetness in its DNA before natural acidity lifts the slightly exotic aftertaste on the finish; lanolin smooth in texture but not an easy wine to assess and not meant to be at this stage, gains familiarity after a while, but the mystery of young white Musar remains for another day. 2020-35
- Steven Spurrier, January 2020
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