The harvest of 2011 posed one of the most challenging experiences in wine-making at Chateau Musar over the last 20 years, as it was one of the most untypical years in Lebanese history. The year began with a cold January but with insufficient rain. February proved similar with March being sunnier but April and May produced the really big surprise with a level of rainfall to match January, February and March combined! The main result of the rain was very late maturation, with flowering occurring 25 days later than usual and this delay continued over the maturation period and up to the harvesting day.
Our first Carignan was harvested on the 22nd September and then on the 23rd it rained for three days from the 23rd until the 25th September with the Carignan and the Cinsault not yet harvested. The Carignan resisted the rain but the Cinsault was more affected. The harvest was finally completed on the 13th October, which with the exception of our 1983 vintage, was the latest in our company’s history.
The 2011 vintage is our traditional blend of approximately one third each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan. The bottling took place 3 years later in 2014, after the wines spent a year in French Nevers oak barrels. Released in the spring of 2018, the Chateau Musar Red of this year is a dark blood red color with a rich, fragrant fruit nose; mulberries, black cherries, plums with a hint of mocha. The palate is very intense and concentrated, it’s full of volume and characterized by forest and black fruits with elegant spice. The tannins are soft and juicy and it has a lengthy finish. Chateau Musar Red 2011 is a vibrantly powerful vintage and cellared well it will keep for decades.
In their youth, Chateau Musar Reds are dense and richly-textured, with intense ‘baked fruit’ characters: plums, damsons, cranberries, cherries, figs and dates. Bordeaux grape Cabernet Sauvignon lends black fruit flavors; Rhône grapes Cinsault and Carignan contribute fragrance (violets; pepper) and supple spiciness. Either set of qualities might dominate a particular vintage, but the style is always emphatically Lebanese: enticingly aromatic, with persistent fruit flavors.
Grapes and vines
Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault from vineyards near the Bekaa Valley villages of Aana and Kefraya on gravelly soils over limestone. Planted from the 1930s onwards, yields are low from these mature bushvines (average age: 40 years): Between 15 to 35hl per hectare.
The varietal components in Chateau Musar Red undergo lengthy fermentations in cement vats at temperatures below 30°C. 6 months after the harvest they are transferred into French barrels (oak from the forest of Nevers) for one year. Blending The varietal components are brought together two years after the harvest; the resulting blend is then placed back in cement tanks before being bottled 12 months later. Each wine is blended to reflect the character of the vintage. After 4 years’ bottle maturation in the deep stone cellars of Chateau Musar, the finished wines are released a full seven years after the harvest.