Wine Tasting: Chateau Musar - A vertical tasting (2nd May 2000)

A vertical of Lebanon's best known wine, which I presented at Peckham's in Glasgow. It seemed to be now or never for this tasting, as more and more of the back vintages disappear. Some truly fine wines, with only a couple of disappointments.

1. 1995 Musar White

2nd May 2000 GBP7 Lebanon Table White

Bright, deep yellow/gold. Rustic, smoky, partially oxidised nose with notes of chalk and orange. Medium to full bodied, dry and much cleaner than the nose would suggest with upfront orange juice acidity, good levels of alcohol and a decent finish. Very impressive, drink now.

2. 1995 Musar Rose

2nd May 2000 GBP8 Lebanon Table Rose

Very pale rose with a touch of orange. Interesting, if a bit flat, on the nose - alcohol, coffee, nuts. Medium bodied and dry, but tiring. A bit thin with little fruit to pin down. Past its best?

3. 1995 Musar Hochar

2nd May 2000 GBP6 Lebanon Table Red

Pale garnet with some pinking at rim. Perfumed nose of roses, silage, turkish delight and strawberries. Medium bodied with very juicy strawberry fruit and a touch of mushrooms and barnyard. Youthful and lively, but complex, with a long, crisp finish. Excellent value.

4. 1994 Musar Red

2nd May 2000 GBP10 Lebanon Table Red

Pale garnet/orange. Ripe, high-toned nose of cassis and red berries, spice, coffee and barnyard. Big, sweet and creamy, a softly textured mouthful of cassis and strawberries that holds superb balance through to a long, sweet finish. Young, but excellent now.

5. 1993 Musar Red

2nd May 2000 GBP11 Lebanon Table Red

Deep orange/red to orange at rim. More animal on the nose than the 1994, layered with redcurrants and spicy, volatile notes. Big and sweet, with more balance than the 1994, and flavours of sweet strawberries, mushrooms, hay and subtle oak. Long, spicy and dry on the finish, this complex wine is drinking superbly now.

6. 1988 Musar Red

2nd May 2000 GBP21 Lebanon Table Red

Deep garnet/red. Intense, rich, dark nose of mushrooms, roses and dank vegetation - wow! Sweet, slightly stewed black fruit flavours with nicely judged tannins and slightly rasping acidity. Needs time, or food. Very, very good.

7. 1987 Musar Red

2nd May 2000 GBP25 Lebanon Table Red

Very deep mahogany red to brown at rim. Volatile, oxidised nose with hints of creosote. Sweet strawberry and cassis flavours give way to dry tannins and slightly oxidised flavours of mushrooms and leather. Lively acidity. Layered but fading - I liked it but someone else described it as 'wine for masochists'…

8. 1986 Musar Red

2nd May 2000 GBP48 Lebanon Table Red

Bright, even tawny red browning at rim. Much more austere on the nose than the preceding wines, tangy with underlying oak. Much fuller than the nose suggests, with sweet, creamy, mouthfilling flavours of chestnuts, cedar, coffee and plums. High acidity levels and a long, dry tannic finish make this a candidate for roasted meats. Very good.

9. 1981 Musar Red

2nd May 2000 GBP26 Lebanon Table Red

Even orange/red - looks mature but not over the hill. Subtle, developed aromas of red berries and oak. Medium bodied with perfumed, sweet currant and strawberry fruit, very fine tannins and a superb, soft texture. Perfectly balanced with flavours of coffee, spice and oranges. Long, alcoholic finish. Excellent. Now.

10. 1978 Musar Red

2nd May 2000 GBP32 Lebanon Table Red

Bright, deep orange/red. Mute on the nose, with alcohol and slightly tangy, volatile notes. Sweet and full bodied, with flavours of charcoal and creamy cassis (fruit yoghurt!), spiced, nutty oak, firm, dry tannins and a long rasping finish. Very well balanced - an outstanding wine.

11. 1975 Musar Red

2nd May 2000 GBP40 Lebanon Table Red

Bright, pale orange/red fading at rim. Tiring slightly, with traces of crisp red fruits on the nose. Medium bodied with flavours of Tizer (?) backed up by almonds and cedar. Good acidity with dank, vegetal notes coming through on a long finish. Still very much alive, with layered, complex flavours. Superb. [Tizer… a soft drink available in Scotland… I don't know why, but that's the taste I got.]