It’s Middle Eastern cuisine tonight so I pulled out this Lebanese blend of 35% Cab Sav, 26% Caladoc (?), 22% Syrah and 17% Tempranillo. Interesting varietals all mixed together. The wine itself is semi opaque in the glass and has medium intensity aromas of red currants, raspberry, blackberry and cloves. The palate is dry but has a blackberry jam sweetness to it, I doubt there’s any residual sugar here, it just tastes that way. The black and red fruit components are well balanced with the lithe tannins and medium acidity. There is a black tea hint on the mid-palate and I also get charcoal on the back end. The finish is mid length and tasty. There is a medium weight body to this wine and good mouthfeel. I am enjoying it and think it’s a 90 pointer that gets 5 stars for the reasonable $15 price point. Drink till 2025 with grilled meats aka shish kebab! Salut….
Here is my class note on a wine I have tasted before that is divine and should feature in any cellar worth its salt. For $55, it’s not a cheap intro to these two unique grapes that make the blend, but this winery has done something very special here and it needs to be tried. I am going with 91 points and 4 stars. Salut….
Chateau Musar White 2010, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 12.5% ABV
- Appearance- deep gold.
- Nose- pronounced aromas of lemon, grapefruit, quince, wet stones, passion fruit, blossom, acacia and nuts. Developing.
- Palate- dry, medium acidity, medium alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity flavors of lemon, grapefruit, quince, wet stones, passion fruit, blossom, acacia and nuts with a long finish.
- Conclusion- very good quality wine that can be drunk now, but has potential for aging.
An amazing blend of Merwah and Obaideh from my native Lebanon. These two grapes are thought to be closely related to Semillon and Chardonnay. This is a young wine at 10 years of age from this iconic winery who make whites that will outlast their reds. A cellar tour in 2008 showed thousands of bottles that were vinted in the 1930’s and ‘40s. Their wines are long lived even though the acidity is not high, a strange phenomenon. The body is quite weighty even though the alcohol is relatively low. Delicious now, this will no doubt start to gain more tertiary flavors and aromas and continue to evolve for many years to come. Unique stuff.
Our second wine of the 16th virtual wine tasting gave me pause in deciding it’s drinking order. I originally wanted to showcase this icon as the finale of our session, but after careful consideration felt it was best to go before the younger, bolder wines- it was a good call.
Chateau Musar at pretty much any age will have an orange tinge, or bricking. It’s also usually about 50% opaque. This blend of Carignan, Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon never looks brooding in the glass. I asked the group for their comments when we started smelling the wine. “Heaven” was the first I heard- very appropriate. We also noted strawberry, leather, black pepper (?), cured meat, garrigue, black cherry, funk, barnyard, new-purse leather, dirt, smoke and earth. These are awesome descriptors from the group, yet I still feel we have missed out on some more. The nose was amazing.
On the palate this beauty is deceiving- delicate, yet powerful. Flavors of cracked pepper, cherry, leather, spice, raspberry jelly and baked cherry compote. The smoothness of this wine is above reproach. The tannins so well integrated and the gobs of acidity so well disguised. I think the gaminess and dried prune notes were my highlight. I was so happy to have been able to present this tremendous wine to my friends, who for the most part loved it. I awarded a perfect 20 points on the tasting scale. Technically speaking, it gets 95 real points and at $75, five stars. I would imagine this one has a long tasting window but make sure you have a two-pronged wine opener, the corks gave issue to several bottles. Salut….
I bought two Magnums of the 1998 vintage from the winery, back in 2009. This particular bottle was opened for a Middle Eastern themed dinner of Meze and Shish Kebabs. Being a huge fan of Chateau Musar, I could hardly contain myself. My cellaring proved worthwhile.
Semi opaque with a touch of orange bricking which I see on every bottle I have drunk, regardless of age. On the nose- classic Musar. Cherry reduction, cinnamon, integrated oak, spice box and dried cranberry. On the palate it is super smooth, with red fruit compote, cherry and tobacco. The mid palate is really juicy with nice acidity. A faint note of super integrated tannins are evident. This 22 year old wine is still young. The finish is long, with cranberries, more cherry and complex flavors melding. I find that Musar has a consistent flavor reminiscent of Brettanomyces (Brett), which gives it a peculiar barnyard note. It is controlled and in such a low dose that it adds flavor, complexity and signature to this iconic brand. I am giving this wine 94 points, drink till 2040. Found online for $80, it’s a 5 star wine that you really should look for. Spectacular, but not to everyone’s taste. The Cinsault dominates the flavors, with Cab Sav and Carignan supporting. Shish Kebabs are an obvious pairing! Salut….
For my birthday celebration, I pulled out two magnums, one of which was the ’96 Musar, I hand carried it from the winery many years ago. I have two bottles of the ’98 waiting but in the meantime….Super pale red- see through, reminiscent of Pinot which it’s not with a touch of orange bricking. On the nose it’s stupendous, like aged Bordeaux. Leather, tobacco, plum and cassis- all my favorites. On the palate it is so smooth, with hints of cassis, cedar box, more tobacco and forest floor. There’s so much going on it’s amazing. Towards the mid palate I get cherry, faint tannins and a perfectly balanced acidity. The finish is awesome. So sleek with cherry juice reduction and a slightly biting rhubarb component. 93 points and 4 stars for this $75 wine. It’s not for everyone, the style is different but for this boy- it hits the right notes. Drink till 2030. Salut….
Dinner at my cousin’s house. He offered me a crack at his cellar- who am I to refuse a gracious host! Inky purple in the glass- opaque. On the nose I get sweet blackberry, new oak, black olives. The initial taste is intriguing. Tannic at the outset, it gives off black fruit flavors, garrigue, lavender, black tea and a ton of mouth coating tannins. This is a brooding wine- powerful, dry, fruity and built for the long haul. It transitions to the back end with flavors of iodine, that black olive note and definitely more blackberries. Good acidity holds the tannins in check, which are in full force as the wine’s long finish fades away. This wine begs for decanting, aerating or a monster juicy Ribeye. Drink till 2030 at the least. 92 points and 5 stars from me for this $25 wine. If you can find it, buy by the case and cellar. The aging capacity of this cuvee is amazing. See my posts on the 2000 St. Thomas, the 2005, the 2006 and the mighty 2008. Salut….
It’s not often I get to drink a 17 year old wine, but I received two bottles of the 2000 St. Thomas recently. Given to me by a cousin and hand carried by my uncle half way across the globe. I was very gentle in opening the bottle, using my Two Prong Puller to prevent any cork failure. There was none, in fact the cork looked very good. The wine has a burnt hue to it, a slight bricking which is expected at this age. It is pretty dark though which is interesting. On the nose I initially got a dank whiff which has since blown off. I now get a fresh dose of plums, some tobacco and espresso bean. The palate is wonderful- soft, flavorful, balanced and easy to drink. Flavors of black berry, toasty oak, cherry, leather and cassis all hit me in layers. The mid palate offers up the tannins, bone dry and and still a force to be reckoned with. The acidity is juicy, yet not tart- balanced. The finish is long, with loads of tannin, dark fruit compote and more of the coffee/tobacco that I got on the nose. This wine believe it or not, is young. I see room for more development, more mellowing and believe the structure is there to hold it all together. It is a delicious, dry wine that begs for charcoal grilled Filets, which is what I am going to cook. An amazing wine from a distant relative’s winery that is excellent in every facet. 91 points from me for this vintage. I have no idea on price but newer vintages are running $22 and are equally delicious, even in their relative youth. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. I would give this wine 5 stars for sure. See my reviews of other St. Thomas vintages. Salut….
I have recently started to modify the titles of my posts to more closely reflect what other sites use. One site in particular has added my blog to their reviews section and I want to make sure they are cataloged properly. I may go back and modify some of the reviews I have done to become more searchable and SEO friendly. In the meantime, I plan on doing more tastings and more reviews. This particular wine is a favorite. My father and uncle both got me a few bottles of the 2008 St. Thomas, of which their cousin owns. When I drank it 18 months ago it was really good, yet still primal. The notes that follow will hopefully show you the evolution and value of cellaring certain wines. What was a 91 point wine has now come out as worthy of 92, and 5 stars for it’s incredible $22 value.
Mature, bold and balanced. This wine has finally rounded it’s tannins and now the whole package is seamless and smooth. The mouthfeel is gorgeous with rich plum, cassis, leather and vanilla. The tannins are ever present but not dominating. They counter the acidity perfectly. This wine has evolved incredibly. The mid palate is especially present with rich plum and a hint of the oak. It will evolve further and run for another 10 years minimum. Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot and Syrah blended. 92 points. I’m serving it with grilled rib steaks and home-grown tomato salad. Salut….
Once a year I get to meet up with my uncle from Lebanon, in Hong Kong of all places. He brings me traditional Lebanese sweets, nuts and a bottle of his cousin’s delicious St. Thomas. I sat on this bottle for 5 months, waiting for the right moment.
It began with gorgeous plums and blackberries on the nose. A very dark and brooding wine in the glass, I figured it was going to be powerful. Indeed. The first cut was of tart blueberries and some black cassis. Bracing acidity and fine grained tannins coat the mouth alongside the bramble and dark cherry on the mid palate. Blackberry finished the deal and carries on with a long tannic finish. This wine is a monster waiting to jump out of the bottle. Still very young at 6 years of age, it should cellar well for another ten. 2015-2025. 91 points from me. No idea the price but if it is under $25 then it ranks a 5 star rating from me. Read about the 2005 and 2006 vintages I have had. This version is less Bordeaux-like, more primal and powerful. Still delicious though! Salut….