2012 was an interesting year of contrasts as January and February were extremely cold and snowy, April proved fresh and rainy giving a boost for the opening of the buds. In early May, all the vineyards were astonishingly green with many small buds. June was very hot indeed but the vines withstood this and flowering occurred with such success that we were expecting a big harvest this year. A very hot July followed with 10 days of heat wave with temperatures of 39°C and 40°C – this caused the vines to tire and green leaves turned pale, even yellow in some places, almost as if October was early and causing the harvest to be much smaller than we had initially hoped.
Obaideh 60% Merwah 40% Vineyard Region Bekaa Valley|
Normally Obaideh reaches higher alcohol than the Merwah but they balance each other, this year in 2010, both reached lower alcohol levels, Merwah 11.5% and when it has lower alcohol than normal (12/12.5%) it tends to dominate the Obaideh, so even though it is only 40% of the blend, it dominates this wine.
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.
Chateau Musar White is fermented in French oak barriques (from the forest of Nevers) for 9 months, bottled and blended at the end of its first year and released seven years after the harvest.