A fairly normal winter followed by a fresh spring with no hail or frost and then a mild summer with a very cloudy and fresh August followed by a sunny September. These perfect conditions allowed grapes to mature slowly and surely at a pace rarely achieved. The harvest started on the 15th September and ended on the 11th October for the reds and the 21st October for the whites. However, we had to stop harvesting for four days from the 30th September to the 3rd October because of rain.
Fermentation continued at about the same pace at which the grapes had matured. It was the slowest and best fermentation we have ever had at Chateau Musar, especially between the 15th and 30th September with 80% of the harvest in the cellar. I tasted the wines on the 18th November. Almost all malolactics are finished and wines look ready for drinking. Very, very beautiful wines and the white wines are just as beautiful as the reds. All wines are big and perfectly balanced whatever the cepage – Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault, Merwah and Obaideh.
Definitely, a vintage to follow very closely…Serge Hochar – November 1997In 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.