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Chateau Musar
Tasting Suggestion: Will go down a treat with some Roast Lamb

Gareth Goves (Bibendum) Nov 2007

Somewhere at home I've got an old Oddbins T Shirt emblazoned with the slogan "SUMMER OF LOVE MAKE WINE NOT WAR".For one winemaker this is more apt than you might imagine.


Serge Hochar makes Chateau Musar in the Lebanon, a part of the world that has been ripped apart by war in recent decades. His vineyards are about 30 miles away from the winery and several times over the years he has found the front line betwen them. Stories of him being smuggled across the front line in small boats, the Chateau itself being shelled and people using the celars as bomb shelters have turned the winery from something obscure into the stuf of legend.

The wine itself is nearly as incredible as the story of how it is made. Musar is a far cry from the squeaky clean, fruit first, wine by numbers approach of the New World. In fact, it is about as far from that as you can get. Serge breaks every rule in the book when making his wine and frequently ends up with a volatile liquid that stinks of nail polish remover rather than strawberies and raspberries and strange as it may seem there are millions of Moose lovers around the world who can't get enough of it.

Personally, I never really saw the point of Musar until earlier this year when I tasted the 1999, which proved to be my road to Damascus (or should that be Beirut?)moment. It's awesome - really funky, interesting stuff for a fraction of the price of the really famous stuff. Does it smell of nail polish? Um, a bit, yeah but it also has loads of ripe fruit, orange peel, leather and spice. The palate is fresh, lively and delicious with a savoury edge that reminds me of top notch Bordeaux. It won't solve the problems in the Middle East, but it will go down a treat with some roast lamb. Cheers Serge.

Chateau Musar is widely available

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