The Untamed Beauty of Musar:
1998 & 1999 Chateau Musar

Posted by Joe Salamone

Musar is a special and utterly singular wine.

Musar's particular calling card is how it combines its wildness with an undeniably aristocratic air. This combination of an earthy and gamey profile with a sense of nobility makes Musar profoundly compelling.

If you had to point towards wines that share some spiritual kinship with Musar, it would be the great traditionalists of the Northern Rhône, and wines like old Tempier. Musar is brimming with soul and possesses more than a little wildness. It all adds up to captivating depth.

The 1998 emphasizes the untamed beauty of Musar. There's a strong acid backbone that carries an incredibly expressive complexity. It's remarkably nuanced, delivering spice, floral notes, herbs, game and earth.

The 1999 Musar delivers a level of elegance, harmony and energy that makes it a brilliant vintage for this wine. Everything is in place for it to age very well, even in the context of Musar's impressive track record for cellaring. The '99 is beautifully lifted, with explosive notes of spice, herbs and dark fruits. The 1999 is destined to be one of the great Musars. It can easily compete with the '88 and '91.

Chateau Musar was founded in 1930 by Serge Hochar's father, Gaston, when he was 20 years old in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Gaston immediately set the estate on the path of quality. Serge studied in Bordeaux with famed enologist Émile Peynaud and took over from his father in 1959, taking Musar to an incredibly high level.

Serge Hochar persevered in the vineyards throughout Lebanon's civil war. He only missed two vintages, 1976 and 1984 (he produced a tiny amount for personal use in both), due to the fighting. Serge brought the wines international renown. By 1977, he'd discovered what he thought was the ideal blend - Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault. There's much more to be said than room allows, so I encourage you to check out Levi Dalton's I'll Drink to That! interview with Serge. Sadly, Serge passed away at the end of 2014.

It's always a pleasure to offer Musar. Few wines are as soulful or captivating. When you factor in how inexpensive the wines are with age on them, they become even more compelling.

To order, email or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone

Wine Buyer
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