If you read my previous post about the Basque white we enjoyed at dinner, this is the follow up wine we ordered to accompany the Crescent Duck Breast, Young Broccoli, Rhubarb and Black Barley dish. Spectacular is what I remember as there were no notes taken. At 6 years of age this bottle looked a bit beat up but tasted great. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Cab Franc, Syrah and Cinsault thrown in for good measure it combines red fruit aromas/flavors with nicely integrated oak, supple tannins and spice box nuance alongside some tertiary notes of leather and tobacco. Really great mouthfeel and a decent length finish. If tasted properly I would score this 91 points and give it a drink till 2028 window to pair with red meat, Duck (obviously!) or even a hearty Ragout. Yummy stuff to be had for under $20 that gets 5 stars from me. Salut….
I am cooking Middle Eastern fare so this blend of 40% Syrah, 25% Cab Sav, 20% Tempranillo and 15% Cinsault should go nicely. It’s a deep ruby, almost opaque. I get spices and brambly fruit on the nose. Black currants, blackberry, plum and licorice. There is also a smell that I can only describe as ‘purple fruit’. It is mesmerizing. The palate is dry with juicy acidity, nicely integrated tannins and lots of brooding dark fruit. The purple factor is missing but I do get some meaty undertones along with some oak nuance by way of charred wood and the spices I caught on the nose. Medium weight body and decently long finish. The tannins are a little more grippy on the back end and balance out the acidity nicely, which is exactly what I need for the fatty lamb kofta skewers. I like this wine, the varietals each contribute nicely to the package and it has good mouthfeel, even though it is still youthful. I would drink till 2028 at the least. This $15 wine gets 89 points from me and 4 stars. Salut….
It’s Thanksgiving and I am pouring this Cabernet Sauvignon. But here’s the kicker, this wine is so unique that it doesn’t even look like a Cab. Blended with Cinsault and Carignan it always shows a very pale reddish orange hue in the glass. It looks like aged Burgundy. The nose is as expected- full of earth, stewed cherry, forest floor, strawberry, red licorice, pomegranate, dried cranberry, meaty, farmyard….. Wow. The palate is super smooth. Slightly tart, it has very fine-grained tannins and complex flavors of red fruit, oaky notes of toast and layers of tertiary flavors like farmyard, stewed fruit, dried fruit and meat. The body is light to medium and the finish is long. Another spectacular bottle of Lebanese decadence that will drink well forever. The last ’98 Musar I had was in Magnum, this one a bit more developed but showing no signs of throttling back. Read about my last tasting here. This truly is a remarkable wine that gets 94 points. At $80 it is a 5 star treat. Salut….
I bought this aged Lebanese blend of 50% Cab Sav, 40% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah from Quebec. It’s starting to turn garnet but is opaque in the glass with nice legs showing off the potent 15% ABV. The nose is quite intense with lovely aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, charcoal, black plum, cloves, chocolate nibs and espresso bean. The palate is young with grippy tannins and gentle acidity. The flavors are all black fruit and oak driven. The tannic grip is a little overpowering for the fruit on the initial attack but I do get the flavors on the mid palate. Full bodied. The finish is medium but quite dry from the tannins that coat my tongue and gums. There is a depth of flavor I sense that will make this wine really shine in the future. It may be 9 years old already but it’s an infant- powerful and layered, it will drink nicely from 2024-2030. 92 points for this $42 bottle make it a 5 star effort. Salut….
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….