2002 was a year full of pleasant surprises which look likely to continue…… After four successive years of drought, we had a long, rainy and cold winter which lasted until June. This was followed by a mild July and hot August. The vines took longer to reach maturity than average and the harvest started almost two weeks later than in previous years. The maturity level varied from vineyard to vineyard forcing us to be selective in our harvesting – the grapes were all hand picked in the early mornings.
The grapes began arriving at the winery on the 15th September and we had to lower the average fermentation temperature to give the yeast the ability to finish transforming the sugar into alcohol. Fermentation in concrete vats went perfectly well but slowly with the temperature kept below 31 degrees and this very long fermentation and maceration were totally unexpected. The wine was racked six months after the harvest and then put into French nevers oak barrels for one year.
The three varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan which up until then had been kept separately, were blended in the following summer of 2004 and bottled in July and August 2005. The grapes of this year were characterised by high levels of sugar, acidity and tannins and the resulting wines are much bigger, riper and fuller than expected.
An exceptional year, as normally in Lebanon, high sugar content means less acidity but in 2002 everything was there! A deep crimson – even blood red colour with an intense and complex nose of spicy red fruits, cedar with deeper plum notes. Generous red and black fruits follow through to the palate combined with Christmas cake spices, figs, dates and stewed plums. Good acidity, silky tannins with a rich fruited palate end with a long promising finish.
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.