Last February a Musarophile friend of mine (probably the biggest Musarophile in Finland - and there are quite some around here!) wanted to celebrate a special occasion by inviting a good handful of fellow wine geeks to a Chateau Musar Blanc vertical, pro bono. Who could say no to that?
Unsurprisingly, several of us arrived with gift bottles - several more bottles of Musar, just to make the vertical even longer (taller?)! Eventually three new bottles of white Musar were added to the lineup, and as one person arrived with a bottle of young Musar Rosé, our host threw in an older bottle of Musar Rosé for comparative purposes.
We also had a double-mag of Deutz for welcoming toast and a humongous 4,5-liter bottle of old Bojo to go with the food.
After the vertical tasting, several of the invitees procured some bottles of their own, just to keep the evening going. These were served blind, as is quite typical in our group.
Unfortunately we didn’t have that much time to aerate the bottles before the tasting, so the younger Musars were consumed after less than 30 minutes of aeration. However, the older whites and rosés had much more time to open up, probably 3 hours or so - which seemed to benefit at least some of the vintages!
And if you are interested what I’ve written about Musar Blanc in the past, here is the link to the Musar Blanc vertical pt. 1 out of 3, which we had two years ago with quite a bit of overlap: TN: Chateau Musar Blanc vertical 2010-1992.
We also had a third iteration of the same theme quite recently, so expect to see my notes on a third Musar Blanc vertical some time in the future (that makes one Musar Blanc vertical approximately once a year over a period of three years - not bad, if you ask me)!
Anyhow, here’s what we had this time, in a slightly randomized order:
NV Deutz Champagne Brut Classic - France, Champagne (25.2.2022)
Served from a double-magnum (ie. a 3 liter-bottle). A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, roughly 1/3 each, vinified in stainless steel. The amount of reserve wines (20-45%) depends on the base vintage - which is unknown for this particular bottle. Aged for approximately 3 years before disgorging. This particular bottle was purchased in mid-2010's and kept in a cellar since, so most likely the base vintage is from the early 2010's - but it's possible the wine is much older due to the atypically large format.
Medium-deep lemon-yellow color. Very rich, somewhat evolved and attractively toasty nose with complex aromas of roasted nuts and cooked cream, some leesy notes of autolysis, a little bit of ripe zesty citrus fruits, light bruised apple nuances and a hint of oven-fresh brioche. The wine is dry, medium-bodied and quite crunchy on the palate with somewhat evolved flavors of bruised apple, roasted pine nuts, a little bit of toasted bread with butter, some steely mineral notes, light autolytic notes of brioche, a sweeter hint of dosage reminding me of apple jam and touch of marzipan. Bright, high acidity and a very smooth and silky mousse. The finish is dry, long and quite toasty with flavors of steely minerality, some mealy red apple, light nutty notes of chopped hazelnuts, a little bit of marzipan, a hint of creamy richness and an autolytic touch of toasted bread.
A wonderfully evolved and toasty NV Champagne with great sense of balance and developed complexity. I was surprised to learn that the wine was purchased only 6-8 years ago, since it felt somewhat more mature - basically something I'd expect from a 20-yo Champagne. However, seeing how these large-format bottles can be aged for much longer than the regular-sized bottles before release and they might stay for much longer in places of retail before they are sold, it's certainly possible this wine is much older than I initially expected. Nevertheless, this performed miles better than any of the Deutz Brut Classic bottles I've had; normally I've considered Brut Classic to be a correct, pleasant NV Champagne without much depth or character. However, this was as toasty and complex as I want my Champagnes to be, at the same time showing great sense of freshness, precision and minerality. A terrific showing of this label and a good reminder that one really should age these entry-level NV bottles as well!
2012 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh (60%) and Merwah (40%) grapes sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards that are 50 to 90 years old, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. The vintage 2012 in Beqaa began cool and snowy, followed by a rainy April, a promising May and a hot summer, starting with a hot June and a heatwave in July. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 9 months in a combination of new French 225-liter barriques (25%) and stainless steel tanks. 12% alcohol, 2 g/l residual sugar, 3,9 g/l acidity. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Pale lemon-yellow color. Ripe but also rather restrained - at first even completely mute - nose with light aromas of sweet citrus fruits, some creamy tones, a little bit of licorice root or anise and a hint of woody character with a faint stinky nuance in the background, making me wonder if this wine is suffering from a mild case of lightstrike? The wine is ripe, round and surprisingly mellow on the palate with a bit dull and unintegrated flavors of juicy white fruits, some sweeter notes of white gummi bear candies, a little bit of woolly lanolin, light fusel-y notes that remind me of awamori or grappa, a hint of damp old wood and a touch of something vaguely skunky. The wine is only medium in acidity, which makes it feel rather soft and lacking precision. The finish is round, juicy and somewhat sweet-toned with flavors of juicy white fruit, some creamy tones, a little bit of damp wool, light savory notes of woody spice or even sawdust and a hint of something skunky. The fruity notes fade away quite quickly, but the woolly nuances remain on the palate for some time.
A surprisingly soft, mellow and rather dull vintage of Musar Blanc that comes across as surprisingly woolly and understated, lacking quite a bit both in fruit and in acidity. It might be that the wine is only suffering from lightstrike - something that is always a possibility with wines bottled in clear bottles - which might explain the faint skunky tones that distract from pleasure, but I doubt this would be a particularly memorable vintage even without the stinky nuances. I really hope the wine would evolve in a more positive direction with age, and not lose its fruity qualities, becoming even more woolly in the process. Feels somewhat pricey for the quality at 41,87€.
2007 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh (65%) and Merwah (35%) grapes sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. The vintage 2007 was an uneven vintage with a sudden spring frost disturbing the growth cycle; cloudy and rainy May preventing 30% of flowering; and a three-week heat wave in August hastening the ripening process before the harvest. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 9 months in a combination of new French 225-liter barriques (25%) and stainless steel tanks. 12% alcohol. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Luminous, medium-deep lemon-yellow color. Restrained, somewhat dusty and slightly sweetish nose with aromas of gummi candies, some sand dust, a little bit of paint thinner, light evolved nuances of wizened white fruits, a sweeter hint of ripe citrus fruits and a funky touch of old damp wood. The nose slowly turns sweeter as it opens up. The wine feels quite full-bodied with a bit restrained and slightly dull flavors of ripe white fruit, some woolly notes of lanolin, light dull notes of damp wood, a little bit of sea water, a hint of kombu kelp and a touch of creaminess. Despite the acidity, the mouthfeel is rather oily and concentrated. The rather long finish is light and slightly dull with flavors of ripe, sweet-toned white fruits, some waxy funk, a little bit of damp wool, light notes of wood spice and a hint of hay.
Unlike the previous bottles of this 2007 vintage I've had, this one was surprisingly dull and understated, lacking badly in freshness and fruit, instead coming across as dull. It didn't show any signs of TCA at any point, and instead of getting worse with air, the wine slowly opened up, becoming slightly sweeter and fruitier over time. Nevertheless, this bottle was definitely not on par with the wines I've tasted earlier. I wonder if the wine was served from a musty glass? Or if it was just an off bottle? Whatever the case, I know this vintage should be a lot better than this.
2006 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh (65%) and Merwah (35%) grapes sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. 2006 was a very difficult vintage, but not that much because of the climatic conditions – which were remarkable by themselves, feeling like a never-ending spring with only 10 days of summer weather – but due to the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. Although it seemed that there wouldn't be any opportunity to do harvest the fruit at all, everybody still carried on normally despite the volatile conditions and fortunately a ceasefire came before the harvest. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 9 months in a combination of new French 225-liter barriques (25%) and stainless steel tanks. 12,5% alcohol. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Quite deep burnished golden color. Somewhat restrained and slightly evolved nose with subtly sweet-toned aromas of apple jam, some wizened peachy fruit, a little bit of caramel, light nutty tones, hints of fragrant exotic spices and a volatile touch of sweet nail polish. The wine feels broad, ripe and moderately gull-bodied on the palate with clean, dry and somewhat evolved flavors of fresh apricots and juicy Golden Delicious apples, some honeyed nuances, a little bit of cantaloupe, light creamy tones, a hint of stony minerality and a touch of beeswax. The rather high acidity lends good sense of firmness and balance to the wine. The finish is juicy, complex and lengthy with dry flavors of ripe Golden Delicious apple, some creamy tones, a little bit of fresh white peach, light stony mineral notes, evolved hints of honey and beeswax and a woolly touch of lanolin.
My third bottle of this wine and the wine is continuing its evolution from a relatively crisp and somewhat awkward young white into something more rich, concentrated and complex. Although the wine doesn't seem to lost any acidity, the perception of acidity is slowly receding into the background as the flavors evolve into something sweeter and more honeyed. Although at first - back in January 2016 - I doubted the capability of this vintage to evolve into something special, expecting it to remain a lighter and more delicate even with age, this wine has turned out to be both very lovely and also quite rich and complex with age. There hasn't been that much development since my last bottle (February 2020), but it seems it is slowly evolving into the right direction and I have no doubts this wine wouldn't be able to improve for a good handful of years more. A bargain at 25€.
2004 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh (65%) and Merwah (35%) grapes sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. A very cool vintage: snow didn't melt until March, spring lasted until June and the ripening period was slowed down by constant cooler breezes. The white grapes never developed much sugar (hovering around 12% potential alcohol) and were rather low in pH, showing balanced levels of acidity. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 9 months in a combination of new French 225-liter barriques (25%) and stainless steel tanks. 12% alcohol. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Moderately evolved pale bronze color. At first the nose feels very tertiary, even moderately oxidative with aromas of Oloroso Sherry, Sultana raisins and mushroomy funk. However, the nose opens up remarkably well with some air, fleshing out with aromas of dried pineapple, some caramel tones, a little bit of beeswax, light umami nuances of consommé, fruity hints of honeydew melon and a touch of roasted nuts. The wine is rich, evolved and ripe on the palate with a full body with somewhat tertiary and slightly sweet-toned flavors of honeydew melon, some nutty complexity, a little bit of sorrel, light caramel tones, a hint of mushroomy funk and a touch of beeswax. The overall taste feels mature, but not as tertiary and oxidative as the nose. The overall feel is balanced, precise and pretty structured, thanks to the high acidity. The finish is dry, evolved and moderately tertiary with lengthy flavors of ripe yellow fruits, some oxidative nutty tones, a little bit of juicy yellow apple, light developed notes of dried white peach, a hint of honey and a savory touch of evolved umami character.
This vintage of Musar white is very confusing for me. The bottle I tasted in May 2016 seemed very mature - even slightly more so than this bottle - whereas the bottle I tasted in February 2020 was remarkably youthful, even backward, especially compared to the surrounding vintages 2005 and 2003 that were tasted at the same time. This bottle is again one of those more evolved ones, and many dismissed the wine right off the bat as oxidized and faulty. However, to me the wine seemed only surprisingly advanced for its age, but definitely not undrinkable. And behold! The wine only needed some air, as the fruitier nuances that were completely absent soon after opening the bottle emerged only after an hour or so, making it much more enjoyable and balanced. Nevertheless, the wine was still much more advanced than what I expected a white Musar of this age to be, so one really should be wary of this vintage - the bottles can be in wildly different phases of evolution. But if one comes across a more evolved bottle, it shouldn't be dismissed immediately - Musar always encourages people to decant and aerate their Chateau-level wines and this is not an exception. At 42,60€, this was priced according to its quality.
2003 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Merwah (65%) and Obaideh (35%) grapes sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. The winter of 2003 was the rainiest in 15 years in Beqaa, but after April, no rain fell. A long heat wave in May decreased yields by 30%, concentrating the acidity and sugar levels in the remaining grapes substantially. However, July and August were cooler than normal, delaying the ripening process. Still, the harvest was carried out by normal schedule. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 9 months in partly new French 225-liter barriques, bottled in September 2004. 12% alcohol. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Moderately deep and wonderfully luminous burnished golden yellow color with a pale bronze core. The nose feels a bit restrained but also wonderfully nuanced with subtly sweetish aromas of zesty citrus fruits, some evolved nutty tones, a little bit of chalk dust, light woolly notes of lanolin, a bright hint of fresh nectarine and a touch of cloudberry jam. The wine feels moderately evolved but also remarkably fresh and lively on the palate with a moderately full body and complex flavors of mealy red apple and ripe, zesty citrus fruits, some developed waxy and creamy tones, a little bit of stony minerality, light oxidative notes of chopped nuts, a hint of savory wood spice and a crunchy touch of quince. What always surprises me with this vintage is its high acidity that is almost at odds with the rich, ripe and developed flavors, lending the wine wonderful sense of freshness, vibrancy and precision. The finish is dry and lively with fresh and quite acid-driven flavors of ripe citrus fruits, stony minerality, some evolved nuances of sweet, wizened stone fruits, a little bit of savory wood spice, a hint of apple peel bitterness and a woolly touch of lanolin.
A delicious, wonderfully bright and beautifully evolved vintage of white Musar. Although the wine felt somewhat evolved, starting to show the first signs of oxidative nuances, the overall feel wasn't as developed as with the previous bottle I had (in February 2020). It feels this wine is slowly getting close to its plateau of maturity, but there is still some ground to cover, so there is definitely no need to hurry with this vintage; I sense there is still room for further improvement and this wine will keep just fine for many, many years more - bottle variation permitting, of course. Although not as profound as the bottle I tasted in May 2016, this is nevertheless a fantastic vintage of Musar Blanc. At just 29,70€, this has been a steal.
2001 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh and Merwah grapes sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. A very cool vintage: snow didn't melt until March, spring lasted until June and the ripening period was slowed down by constant cooler breezes. The white grapes never developed much sugar (hovering around 12% potential alcohol) and were rather low in pH, showing balanced levels of acidity. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 9 months in partly new French 225-liter barriques. 12,5% alcohol. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Deep golden yellow color. Evolved, very complex and still remarkably fruit-forward nose with captivating, sweetish aromas of caramel and lemon marmalade, some acacia honey, a little bit of wizened apricot, light sweet notes of bitter almond oil or cherry pits, a developed hint of creaminess - even strawberry cream - and a touch of almost overripe apricot. Lots of stuff happening here. The wine feels rich, textural and even slightly oily on the palate with ripe and moderately evolved flavors of spicy wildhoney, some wizened peach tones, a little bit of developed creaminess, light toffee nuances, a hint of stone minerality and a sweet touch of Sultanas. The medium-to-moderately high acidity doesn't feel as bright and zippy as in some vintages, but it is more than adequate to keep the wine balanced and structured enough. The long finish is impressively complex with subtly sweetish flavors of ripe apricots, some dried-fruit notes of Sultanas and wizened nectarines, a little bit of oxidative nuttiness, light caramel tones, a hint of exotic brown spices and a touch of candied orange peel.
This is the fifth time I taste this particular vintage of Musar Blanc, and apart from the less impressive bottle we had in early 2020, this has been consistently one of the most impressive vintages of white Musar. The acidity feels a bit on the low side here - at least compared to some of the vintages - and while the lack of acidic zip doesn't make the wine feel unbalanced in any way, it feels the wine is evolving a bit fasted than some other vintages, making the wine appear slightly weightier and more dull with age. Thus, it might be that even this was one of the most impressive wines we opened this night, it might be possible that this wine was showing its best 5 years ago. This is still and extraordinary wine, but not as exceptional as it has been. Or then it's just bottle variation. Or then this vintage is in a slight slump at the moment, so perhaps this will be again something otherworldly in another 5-10 years. Who knows? What matters to me is that at just 30€ this has been an absolute steal.
2000 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh (65%) and Merwah (35%) grapes sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. The vintage 2000 started quite even and very pleasant, allowing for a successful flowering. However, the July and August temperatures were noticeably above the average throughout the growing season, resulting in noticeably ripe grapes. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for about a year in partly new French 225-liter barriques. Bottled in late 2001. 12,5% alcohol, pH 3,65. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Very evolved coppery to pale orange color - noticeably darker than any other vintage we tasted. The nose feels oxidative, savory and old with aromas of roasted nuts, some smoky tones, a little bit of bruised apple, light aldehydic notes of sorrel and Amontillado Sherry, a hint of mushroomy funk and a touch of beeswax. The wine is gentle, mellow and rather soft on the palate with a moderately full body quite tertiary flavors of dried stone fruits and caramel, some nutty nuances of roasted walnut, light aldehydic notes of sorrel and Amontillado Sherry, a little bit of volatile lift and a sweeter touch of applesauce. The quite modest acidity feels rather low in relation to the body. The finish is long, tertiary and rather dry with complex flavors of roasted nuts, some raisiny notes of Sultanas, a little bit of caramel, light aldehydic notes of sorrel, a hint of bruised apple and a touch of mushroomy funk.
This was my second time I got to taste the white Musar 2000, and this is the second time the wine disappointed. The first time (January 2016) the wine was corked, this time it was just old and clearly going downhill. Unlike the other vintages in this tasting that felt more oxidative, this didn't do a magic turn with air, but instead only gradually got worse with air. It seemed quite obvious that this wine had seen better days and there was only one direction it was headed. It might be that we were just victims of bottle variation and this wasn't representative of the vintage, but seeing how the wine felt a bit overripe, raisiny and low in acidity, it's certainly possible that this vintage wasn't just as long-lived as the surrounding vintages.
1999 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh (2/3) and Merwah (1/3) sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete tanks; left to age in oak barrels for 6 to 9 months before bottling in 2000. 12,5% alcohol. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Deep burnished golden yellow to pale bronze color. Sweetish, moderately evolved nose with alluring, complex aromas of bitter almond oil, some rich cloudberry jam tones, a little bit of caramel, light nuances of lemon marmalade, nutty hints of slivered almonds and marzipan and a touch of honeydew melon. The wine is ripe, oily and quite concentrated on the palate with a full body and intense, subtly sweet-toned flavors of honey and apple jam, some evolved creamy tones, a little bit of honeydew melon, light caramel notes, nutty hints of peanut butter and roasted pine seeds and a slightly MSG-ish touch of evolved umami character. The overall feel is quite round and even slightly voluptuous, but the medium-to-moderately high acidity manages to keep the wine quite effortlessly in balance. The finish is long, rich and moderately developed with complex flavors of apple jam, some honeydew melon, a little bit of creamy richness, light nutty notes of peanut butter and roasted walnuts, a hint of bruised apple and a touch of marzipan.
A beautifully rich, evolved and complex vintage of white Musar. The overall feel is a bit round and on a softer side compared to most vintages of white Musar, but at the same time showing remarkable complexity and depth of flavor. Although I'd love the wine to have a bit more acidity and freshness, the overall style is impressive enough to make the wine come across as very impressive even with its slightly round and oily mouthfeel. Although not as impressive as the bottle we tasted a few years ago (February 2020), this was still among some of the best wines we tasted this evening. At 44,10€ this wine offers some real bang for the buck.
1998 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh (2/3) and Merwah (1/3) sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and left to age in oak barrels for 9 months before bottling in 1999. 12,5% alcohol. Total production 30,000 bottles. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Luminous pale bronze color. Evolved, sweetish and slightly toasty nose with aromas of roasted nuts, some wizened citrus fruits, a little bit of exotic spices, light smoky tones, a developed hint of bruised apple and a touch of honeycomb. The wine is rich, moderately evolved yet still surprisingly fresh on the palate with a medium-to-moderately full body and rather concentrated flavors of toasty nuttiness, some bruised apple, light marzipan tones, a little bit of stony minerality, a hint of toasted bread and a sweet touch of dried tropical fruits. The rather high acidity lends great sense of brightness and structure to the wine. The finish is rich, long and complex with layered, subtly oxidative flavors of wizened citrus fruits, some stony mineral notes, a little bit of bruised apple, light evolved nuances of honey and hints of dried pineapple and other exotic fruits.
A wonderfully harmonious, balanced and pleasantly evolved vintage of white Musar that certainly shows some age - as is to be expected from a +20 yo wine - but at the same time coming across as somewhat more youthful than many younger vintages. The bottle I tasted in May 2016 was similarly youthful - or even more so - but coming across as subtly funky and perhaps a bit less complex than this one. In this bottle there was no funk whatsoever and the wine had lived up to my expectations when I predicted six years ago that this wine had "many years - possibly even decades - ahead". This has continued to improve wonderfully well and most likely this was an even better bottle than the previous one - after all, Musar is quite notorious for its bottle variation. This time this wine was drinking ridiculously well, but I'd say there is still much room for further development, so there is definitely no need to hurry with any of the remaining bottles!
1994 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
Made with Obaideh (2/3) and Merwah (1/3) sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in oak barrels for 6 to 9 months. 13% alcohol. Tasted in a Musar Blanc 2012-1994 vertical.
Medium-deep bronze color. Somewhat sweet and slightly dusty nose with rather understated aromas of dusty earth and wool, which as followed by nuances of chopped nuts, some sweeter notes of overripe red apple, light waxy tones and a hint of bruised quince that slowly emerge with air. At first people wondered whether the wine was corked due to its dull, lifeless nose, but seeing how the nose just slowly opened up with air without developing any, we came to the conclusion that the wine wasn't corked, just old. The wine is juicy, rich and full-bodied but also somewhat dull and lifeless on the palate with flavors of wizened citrus fruits, some stony mineral notes, a little bit of slightly unpleasant metallic character, light evolved nutty tones and a hint of bruised quince. When compared to the younger vintages we tasted, this vintage is lacking in flavor complexity.The wine is moderately high in acidity. The finish is rather understated and a bit short with flavors of dusty earth, some ripe citrus tones, a little bit of stony minerality, light nuances of bruised apple and a salty hint of brackish sea water.
A vintage that seemed relatively youthful for its age, but which doesn't really manage to impress. At first people assumed the wine was corked, due to its very closed, un-aromatic nature and dusty nuances, but as Musar wines always need some aeration, it turned out to be just a wine that hadn't opened enough yet. Upon the first sniff and taste the wine was borderline faulty, as it really didn't have any positive aromas or flavors, but it slowly picked up speed and turned out, well, not good, but fairly OK. However, after some while the wine ceased to evolve any further and just stuck at the phase my TN has described. It never became particularly expressive or balanced, but remained a bit restrained and slightly dull in overall character. It's hard to assess whether this 1994 is just getting old, lifeless and flat, or if we had just a dud bottle. So you might need to take my TN with a grain of salt.
2017 Chateau Musar Rosé - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
A blend of white Obaideh (60%) and Merwah (37%) with a very small amount of red Cinsaut (3%) added right before pressing the grapes to add color to the wine. All varieties are fermented spontaneously in oak and aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels. Bottled 14 months after the harvest, released in summer 2020, almost 3 years after the harvest. 11,5% alcohol.
Pale whitish-yellow color with subtly rosy highlights. The nose feels ripe, sweetish and slightly primary with aromas of ripe white peach, some apple jam, light woolly notes of lanolin, a little bit of creamy oak, light fragrant nuances of Mediterranean herbs, a primary hint of candied fruit, a woody touch of dry oak character and a perfumed hint of jasmine and white flowers. The wine is dry, fresh and lively on the palate with a medium body and very youthful flavors of crunchy golden apple, some chalky and saline mineral tones, a little bit of creamy oak, light woolly nuances, a hint of lemony citrus fruit and a sweeter touch of candied primary fruit. Nice, fresh and quite structured acidity. The finish is lively, crunchy and pretty acid-driven with rather lengthy flavors of lemony citrus fruits, some tart green apple tones, a little bit of creamy oak, light mineral nuances of chalk dust, a hint of wool and a touch of savory wood character.
A nice, fresh and still very youthful vintage of Musar Rosé that feels a bit woody and woolly at the moment. The overall style is wonderfully bright and delicate - especially compared to the normally much weightier white Musar - but not lacking in intensity in any way. While pleasant and refreshing, I find the wine to be a bit awkward at the moment - just like I found the vintage 2016 back in 2020 - and thus I'd leave this bottle to develop in a cellar for another 7-10 years or so, as I expect the wine to drop the sweeter primary fruit notes and oaky nuances as it ages. I just hope the woolly notes would also recede into the background and not take over the flavor profile!
2006 Chateau Musar Rosé - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (25.2.2022)
A blend of white Obaideh (60%) and Merwah (35%) with a very small amount of red Cinsaut (5%) added right before pressing the grapes to add color to the wine. All varieties are fermented spontaneously in oak and aged for 9 months in French oak barrels. Bottled in the summer following the harvest. 12% alcohol.
Medium-deep peach-orange color. Somewhat evolved, slightly toasty and subtly sweetish nose with aromas of roasted nuts, some brioche, a little bit of bruised apple, light honeyed nuances, a hint of ripe white peach, an evolved, oaky touch of butterscotch and a floral whiff of honeysuckle. The wine fresh, savory and quite acid-driven on the palate with a medium body and dry flavors of stony minerality, bruised apple tones, some Granny Smith apple, a little bit of crunchy red currant, light woolly nuances of lanolin, a hint of tangy salinity and a touch of toasty nuttiness. The overall feel is enjoyably fine-tuned and still relatively youthful, but typical of Musar Rosé, the emphasis is not that much on the fruit department as it is on the other flavors and nuances. The bright, high acidity and a subtle hint of tannic tug on the gums make the wine feel enjoyably firm and structured. The finish is fresh, lively and acid-driven with moderately evolved flavors of crunchy apple-driven fruit, some tangy notes of saline minerality, a little bit of developed nuttiness, light sweet nuances of ripe white peach, a hint of wool and a touch of honeydew melon.
A wonderful, delicious and quite fascinating rosé that has developed some mature nuances, yet still the wine manages to feel surprisingly youthful for its age. When some people say rosé wines are to be drunk early, preferably after a year or two after the vintage, it's always good to remind them that there are also rosés like these that can age effortlessly over a decade. Even though the wine is drinking mighty well right now, I still think this wine is actually capable of improving even further from here. Superb stuff, highly recommended.
1996 Domaine de Cercy Beaujolais - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais (25.2.2022)
From a whopping 4,5-liter bottle, decanted for a few hours. 12,5% alcohol.
Translucent, somewhat evolved yet still surprisingly youthful pomegranate color with a pale rim. Quite evolved and complex nose with tertiary aromas of brambly raspberries, some wild lifted tones, a little bit of dried flowers, light sweet nuances of wizened red cherries, a hint of farmyard funk, a touch of loamy earth and a whiff of candied red fruits. The wine feels light-to-medium bodied, crunchy and surprisingly fresh on the palate with bright, quite acid-driven flavors of raspberries, some loamy earth, a little bit of sappy red fruit, light stony mineral notes, a developed hint of savory autumnal character and a touch of wizened dark berries. The wine comes across as balanced and enjoyably structured, thanks to the high acidity and light yet still gently grippy tannins. The finish is fresh, long and lively with bright flavors of brambly raspberries, some sanguine notes of raw meat, light tart notes of fresh red plums, light sweeter nuances of wizened dark fruits, a hint of old leather and a touch of forest floor. The tannins lend a tiny bit of grip to the aftertaste.
A very pleasant, balanced and enjoyably developed Beaujolais that was not only remarkably fresh for its age, but also remained very much alive for several hours in a decanter (well, in multiple decanters, as the wine came from a 4,5-liter bottle. I guess the large format was the key reason why the wine had survived so well for 25 years. Nevertheless, this wine is a real testament to the aging potential of even the lowliest entry-level Bojo wines - I guess in the late 1990's nobody expected this simple little Beaujolais to be capable of drinking so well more than 20 years later; yet, against all odds, that it did. While not a phenomenal grand vin in any way, still this was a very positive surprise for an old Bojo - and an excellent food wine for many different dishes.
2010 Querbach Riesling Classic - Germany, Rheingau (25.2.2022)
Fermented spontaneously, aged in stainless steel on the fine lees. 11,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.
Medium-deep yellow-green color. Slightly reticent nose of white flowers, some sharp Granny Smith apple, a little bit of ripe peachy fruit, light honeyed tones, a mineral hint of stone dust and a touch of beeswax. The wine is dry-to-dry-ish, quite mineral and medium-bodied on the palate with bright flavors of apple blossom, some stony mineral tones, a little bit of ripe citrus fruit, light steely mineral nuances, a hint of apple peel bitterness and a sweet touch of ripe, grapey fruit. The moderately high acidity keeps the wine very nicely in balance. The finish is fresh, mineral and quite mouth-cleansing with rather long flavors of steely minerality, some ripe Golden Delicious apple, a little bit of lemon zest, light grapey tones, a hint of wet stones and a subtly sweet touch of honey.
A nice, clean and balanced Riesling - perhaps a bit anonymous and surprisingly modest in acidity for a 2010 Riesling. That is not to say that the wine wasn't high in acidity; but just as I said with my previous TN on this wine, I expected a 2010 Rheingau Riesling to have noticeably higher acidity. Overall this is a nice wine, but I really didn't see much evolution here compared to the previous time I tasted the wine (almost exactly 4 years ago) and the overall style is still pretty closed. I think this wine just needs more time - as virtually all Querbach wines do - and if the wine is opened now, it needs a decant of 1-2 hours, if not more. Most likely this wine won't be showing its best until its 20th birthday. Tasty stuff for patient people, terrific value at just 12€.
2014 Weingut Josef Jamek Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Achleiten - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau (25.2.2022)
12% alcohol. Tasted blind.
Quite pale whitish-green color with subtly yellow highlights. Lots of wine tartrates, so decanting advised. The nose is cool, somewhat dull and a bit reticent with aromas of hay, some ripe citrus tones, a little bit of crushed oyster shell, light crunchy notes of fresh red apple and a sweeter hint of cantaloupe. The wine is ripe, surprisingly broad and medium-to-moderately full-bodied on the palate with flavors of juicy citrus fruits, some ripe golden, a little bit of stony minerality, light notes of hay, a hint of cantaloupe and a touch of fresh white fruit. The moderately high acidity keeps the wine in balance. The finish is fresh, ripe and moderately long with dry flavors of fresh red apple, some ripe white fruits, a little bit of hay, light zesty citrus fruit tones and a hint of stony minerality.
A drinkable, but also somewhat dilute Grüner Veltliner that is a little bit in pieces and doesn't give that much. The wine isn't dull or lacking in intensity, but it still lacks the vibrancy and intensity one looks for in a young Federspiel GV. I guess 2014 just wasn't a particularly successful vintage in Wachau - at least it was quite miserable in Hungary and many places in Austria. I guess the wine might pick up a little bit of complexity as it ages, but I doubt this is ever going to be a grand vin. Good, but not great.
2020 Coteaux des Girondales (Francis Rousset) Gamma - France, Vin de France (25.2.2022)
A 100% organically farmed Gamaret from Villaz in Haute-Savoie - a commune where no vines have been farmed for the past 100 years. The wine is made according to a minimum-intervention philosophy. 11,5% alcohol. As the wine is VdF, no vintage designation can be found on the label.
Youthful, fully translucent, pinkish raspberry red color. Very wild and borderline natty nose with aromas of brambly raspberries, some pickle juice, a little bit of fluoride paste, light smoky notes of burnt hair, a hint of ripe cranberry and a crunchy touch of sappy red forest fruits. The wine is lively, juicy and light-bodied on the palate with flavors of brambly black raspberries, some tart cranberry tones, a little bit of volatile lift, light sappy and borderline unripe notes of blackberries, a hint of fresh red plum and a touch of pickle juice. The wine is high in acidity with very light and easy tannins. The finish is lively, crunchy and very gently grippy with acid-driven flavors of tart cranberries, some lingonberries, a little bit of lifted wild aromatics, light sappy herbal tones and a hint of pickle juice.
A light, fresh and smashable little red from the naturalist end of the spectrum. Nothing bad, just perhaps a bit anonymous with its generic, crunchy red-toned fruit and at times slightly pickle-ish funk along with its slightly elevated level of VA. It's very obvious that this is a natural wine, but it could be much worse. I just wish the wine would've showed more character and persona - this was nothing more than your run-of-the-mill natural bistro wine. Perhaps a bit pricey for its quality at 17€.
2008 Romano Dal Forno Valpolicella Superiore Vigneto di Monte Lodoletta - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Valpolicella Superiore (25.2.2022)
Typically a blend of Corvina (70%), Rondinella (20%), Croatina (5%) and Oseleta (5%). The grapes are dried in a ventilated room for 1,5 months following the harvest. After the grapes have been raisinated, the wine is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for two weeks. Aged in new oak barriques for 24 months, after which the wine is filtered and bottled. The wine is not released before aging in bottles for a minimum of three years. 14% alcohol. Tasted blind.
Dense, extracted and fully opaque blackish-red color that does not permit any light through. Very dense, powerful and toasty nose with aromas of heavily toasted oak, ripe blackcurrants, some minty green tones, a little bit of soot, light evolved notes of wizened blackcurrants, a hint of chocolate milkshake and a touch of alcohol. The overall feel is very powerful and heavily oak-driven. The wine is dense, concentrated and chewy on the palate with a very full body and intense flavors of powerful caramel-driven oak character, some mint chocolate, a little bit of cherry marmalade, light blueberry tones, an evolved hint of wizened forest fruits and a touch of ripe blackcurrant. The wine feels very muscular and tightly-knit with it extracted, noticeably grippy tannins and quite high acidity. The alcohol lends some obvious warmth to the palate. The thick and chewy finish feels powerful, robust and tannic with intense flavors of juicy blackcurrants and overripe blueberries, some toasty oak tones, a little bit of caramel, light cherry marmalade tones, a hint of extracted woody bitterness and a touch of milk chocolate.
A huge, massive blockbuster of a wine that is as far removed from a traditional Valpolicella Superiore as possible - this wine comes across as more Amarone than many Amarones on the market do. On the one hand, it is very impressive how even the lowly entry-level wine is the winery is so massive and impressively concentrated; but on the other, this wine really has nothing to do with Valpolicella whatsoever. With its ridiculously overdone oak, extracted blackcurrant-driven fruit, massive tannins and rather pronounced alcohol, I guessed that this was a 15-yo Tempranillo from Toro (or possibly Ribera del Duero). When I was told it was not a Spanish wine, I thought this was a flagship Cabernet-Shiraz from Australia. Never once I thought of Italy. So, yes, this is an impressively massive wine with lots of everything and then some. However, I really don't "get" the wine - it's just a huge, concentrated fruit bomb that is drenched in new oak character, making me think more of Bourbon than Italian red wine. I'd love to see how these wines perform at +25 years of age, because it seems painfully obvious that these 13 years have not been nearly enough to integrate all that oak character with the fruit.
1998 Ortas / Cave de Rasteau Rasteau Signature Vin Doux Naturel - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Rasteau (25.2.2022)
Bottle #25587. 17% alcohol.
Moderately evolved, deep and very slightly translucent blood-red color. At first the wine has a very sweet, jammy and slightly volatile nose with aromas of blackcurrant jam or strawberry jam with some sweet, ethery VA. However, as the wine opens up, the nose picks up complexity and slightly loses some of its jammy sweetness as it starts to exhibit aromas of wizened red cherries, some raisiny tones, a little bit of boozy alcohol, light savory notes of meat stew and a hint of blackberry marmalade. The wine is sweet, evolved and somewhat hot on the palate with a full-body and rich flavors of wizened black cherries, some raisiny tones, a little bit of blackberry jam, light evolved notes of meaty umami, a boozy hint of alcohol and a lifted touch of sweet, ethery VA. The medium acidity doesn't lend much freshness to the wine, so it comes silky smooth, but also rather soft and round. The tannins feel very gently grippy on the gums. The finish is quite long and gently grippy with sweetish-umami flavors of strawberries, some pruney tones, a little bit of blackcurrant jam, light blackberry tones, a hint of old leather and a touch of medicinal ether.
A quite nice, balanced and enjoyable VDN that is a bit too soft, mellow and boozy for my preference, but nevertheless shows some nice, evolved complexity and savory umami character. Although the wine doesn't feel young anymore, it is still very vibrant and full of fruit, so I can expect the wine to continue on developing for at least a handful of years more. Tasty stuff that goes nicely with different kinds of cheeses, especially if served a bit on the cool side.
Posted from CellarTracker