An astonishing year – where to start? The winter was cold in Lebanon and as has happened in the past, snow covered the Bekaa Valley for more than two weeks, leaving the soil untouched for 45 days due to the resulting mud. When spring arrived, it never ended. In 2006 we only had 10 days of our usual summer climate during the whole summer season with a maximum temperature of 30 degrees in the day and 22 degrees at night. It was an unbelievable thing to witness – as if it was a year from the 1950s when the climate was cooler, the winds more gentle and when nature was balanced ecologically….
However in July 2006, without warning, Lebanon came under siege. The country was affected badly and everybody naturally thought this vintage would be lost but we continued with our harvest even though the conditions surrounding us were very difficult and dangerous. The Cabernet Sauvignon was the first to be harvested in early September followed by Carignan, then Cinsault. Acidity and alcohol levels were high, a complex year developing differently from our usual experiences with grape maturation at Chateau Musar.
Our first impressions following the harvest were that the Cabernet Sauvignon was rich, full of black fruits and spices, the Cinsault a concentration of blueberry and red cherries and the Carignan had great flesh and body. All our red varietals in 2006 appeared to be very fruity and full of character and we were relieved that everything was safely gathered in against all the odds.
The Chateau Musar Red of 2006 is our classical blend of a third each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan. The blending took place three years later in 2009 and the wines spent a year in French Nevers oak barrels. The release date of this vintage however, did not happen as planned! Our policy has always been to release our Chateau reds and whites when they are ready for drinking and this is generally 7 years from the harvest, but in 2013 this wine was far from ready and needed more time. So we decided to postpone the release for one year, then another, then another until we were finally certain that the 2006 was ready for drinking in the spring of 2017.
A beautiful deep, ruby hue with lots of almost confected cherry, blackcurrant and cranberries on the nose with a hint of liquorice. The palate has an explosion of brambly and hedgerow fruits with blueberries and cherries - this is a mid-weight vintage from Chateau Musar with excellent acidity and fine tannins.
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.