2010 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
The blend here is 60% Obaideh and 40% Merwah - slightly closer to a 1:1 blend than normally. The vintage 2010 in Beqaa was very dry to boot with very little snow or rain during January and February. Very promising spring was followed by a 3-week heat wave starting in mid-July, reaching peak temperatures of 48,5°C, causing many vines in Beqaa to shut and dry the grapes in vines. However, the higher-yielding white varieties avoided the heat and the grapes were harvested at only 11,5-12,5% potential alcohol. 12% alcohol.
Youthful, pale yellow-green color. Rather weird, sappy and somewhat green-toned nose with aromas of thyme and other chopped herbs, zesty citrus fruits, some bretty notes of leather and Gueuze Lambic, a little bit of sharp - even slightly unripe - green apple, a hint of toasty oak and a phenolic touch of smoky character. The wine is surprisingly soft and mellow on the palate with medium body and surprisingly light, mild flavors of creamy oak, some bretty funk, a little bit of crunchy quince, light leathery tones, a mineral hints of stones and smoke and a touch of green apple. The modest-to-medium acidity really doesn’t feel high enough to lend the wine structure or freshness. The finish is lively, but also quite mild with medium-long flavors of ripe citrus fruits, some red apples, a little bit of creamy oak and light mineral notes of cool stones.
As a huge Musar fan, I was surprised and somewhat disappointed by this wine. Normally these white Musars are very rich and impressive in their youth, turning into fascinating and enormously complex with age. I had high expectations on this wine, since the red 2010 was so brilliant, but apparently the vintage didn’t favor the white varieties that much. This might be very recognizable for a Musar Blanc, but as a whole it is not particularly representative - it is rather soft, dull and lacking in depth and intensity. One can only hope age will help this wine. Definitely a vintage that can be skipped without a second thought. (83 pts.)
2009 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
The vintage 2009 in Beqaa began very dry with very little snow or rain until March. Low humidity throughout the season and the first grapes were harvested very early, in the beginning of September. However, right after the beginning of the harvest torrential rains arrived and the remaining grapes managed to collect some of that water. Nevertheless, the white varieties didn’t suffer from the rains and were among the last grapes to be harvested at the latter half of October, with low pH and high acidities. 12% alcohol.
Pale honeyed yellow color. Ripe, juicy and pretty fruit-forward nose with aromas of apricots, some coconut, a little bit of creamy oak, light honeyed tones and a hint of apple sauce. The wine is remarkably fresh and intense on the palate with only medium body and surprisingly concentrated, youthful flavors of nectarine, some creaminess, a little bit of nutty oak spice, light apple sauce tones, a hint of toasty character and a touch of stony minerality. Wonderfully balanced, high acidity. The finish is lively, broad and refreshing with long, complex flavors of creamy oak, some tart lemony citrus fruits, a little bit of nectarine, light buttery tones, a hint of stony minerality and a toasty touch of nutty oak character.
A wonderfully fresh, bright and harmonious vintage of white Musar. Even at the age of +10 years, the wine is still rather youthful, so the vibrant primary tones and oak characteristics are still a bit more to the fore than I’d like them to be; yet the wine is already very impressive and starting to show all the hallmarks of a great Musar Blanc vintage. The wine is remarkably fresh and acid-driven in style with great sense of almost electric tension, yet the fruit shows good, understated sense of concentration which promises great potential for future development. The wine definitely benefits from opening up and being served at slightly warmer temperature - with its high acidity it carries itself with remarkable grace. Although pretty wonderful already, this wine really needs another 10-15 years before it really starts to sing. Solid value at 39,90€. (91 pts.)
2007 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
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. 12% alcohol.
Rather concentrated and still pretty youthful yellow-green color. The nose feels fresh and somewhat restrained with layered, fine-tuned aromas of fresh nectarine, some chopped almonds, a little bit of coconut, light zesty citrus tones, a floral hint of apple blossom and a touch of beeswax. The wine is dense, structured and slightly oily on the palate with medium-to-moderately full body and still quite youthful flavors of creamy oak and some coconut, ripe citrus fruits, some marzipan tones, a little bit of stony minerality, a hint of wizened white peach and a touch of butter. The high acidity lends good sense of balance and structure to the wine. The finish is long, complex and refreshing with nuanced flavors of ripe citrus fruits, coconut, some stony minerality, a little bit of spicy red apple, light creamy oak tones, a mineral hint of tangy salinity and a touch of chopped almonds.
A wonderfully fresh, structured and complex vintage of white Musar that is definitely going into the direction - and fortunately is consistently showing better than the underwhelming 2007 Musar Rouge. Repeating my previous experiences with this vintage, the nose is still somewhat understated here compared to other vintages of Musar Blanc; however, the fruit department is slowly opening up and the wine starting to exhibit the layered complexity typical of white Musar with age. Nevertheless, the wine is still far away from its apogee and is in all likelihood going to need another 10 years or so before showing its best. Solid value at 39,19€. (90 pts.)
2006 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
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. 12,5% alcohol.
Somewhat developed and slightly concentrated golden yellow color. Rich, concentrated and moderately sweet-toned nose with complex aromas of apple juice concentrated, honeydew melon, some ripe quince, a little bit of nuttiness, light beeswax tones, a woody hint of oak spice and a touch of cloudberry jam. The wine is very ripe, full-bodied and juicy on the palate with concentrated flavors of honey, some overripe apricots, a little bit of wizened stony fruits, light creamy tones, a hint of beeswax and a touch of dried herbs. The moderately high acidity keeps the wine nicely in balance without sticking out too much. Overall the wine feels quite big and concentrated, yet not weighty or ponderous. The finish is ripe, juicy and complex with layered flavors of apricots, some ripe peach, a little bit of pineapple, light stony mineral tones, a savory hint of oak spice and a touch of honeyed richness.
As a vintage, this is a good deal better than the somewhat awkward 2006 Musar Rouge. The last time I tasted this wine some 4 years ago, it was still a crisp, youthful and nervous white wine. It has taken it this long to reach the first steps into maturity: the wine doesn’t feel that crisp and racy anymore, but is starting to show that developed richness, concentration and complexity these wines start to exhibit with age. The acidity has taken a small stride into the background, letting the complex fruit and non-fruit flavors take the lead. While the wine has still some way to go before its peak, it is starting to reach its drinking window, already hinting of what the wine is going to be in the future. I seem to have been wrong with my previous assessment in that “this one will never be one of those stupendous Musar super whites, but instead one of those more delicate and elegant Burgundian Musar whites”. Let this wait for another 6-10 years. A bargain at 25€. (92 pts.)
2005 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
Unlike in most European wine countries, the 2005 was an atypically cool and humid vintage in Lebanon, resulting in harvest delayed more than a week from normal schedule and with wines showing lower than average alcohol and higher acidity. 12% alcohol.
Deep, luminous honey-yellow color. Very impressive, powerful and concentrated nose with ripe aromas of beeswax, wizened apricots, some browned butter, a little bit of apple juice concentrate, light creamy tones, a hint of nutty complexity and a touch of clementine. The wine is dry, full-bodied and concentrated on the palate with layered, juicy flavors of ripe apricots, pineapple, some stony minerality, a little bit of nutty complexity, light vanilla tones, a hint of caramel and a touch of tangy salinity. The overall feel isn’t young anymore, but it isn’t particularly evolved yet either. Furthermore, the wine is wonderfully high in acidity for its size, making it feel very fresh, balanced and structured. The finish is concentrated and complex with long and very intense flavors of acid-driven citrus fruits, tangy salinity, some chopped nuts, a little bit of toffee, light sweeter notes of nectarine and clementine, a hint of beeswax and a touch of savory aromatic spices.
Year in and year out, this is the best vintage of Musar in the 2000’s. Not only is the red probably the best vintage of Musar released in the past 10-15 years, but so is the white as well. The wine is remarkably powerful and concentrated, but at the same time remarkably poised, fresh and balanced with its modest alcohol and high acidity. The wine doesn’t feel that young anymore, but it certainly isn’t particularly old yet. Just like the red 2005 Musar, I’m sure this wine will only continue to improve as it ages - even though it is ridiculously impressive already. Consistently one of my favorite vintages of white Musar. Simply a phenomenal wine, heartily recommended. Outrageous value at 30,90€. (96 pts.)
2004 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
2004 was 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. 12% alcohol.
Surprisingly pale yet still somewhat deep lemon-yellow color with subtle lime-green highlights. Somewhat restrained and slightly sweet-toned nose with nuanced aromas of white peach, ripe tangerine, some savory wood spice, a little bit of vanilla blossom, light mineral notes of cool stones and a woolly hint of lanolin. The wine is lively, moderately full-bodied and enjoyably fresh on the palate with intense flavors of citrus fruits, some creamy oak, a little bit of crunchy quince, light red apple tones, a hint of coconut and a touch of tangy salinity. The wine is enjoyably firm and balanced with its moderately high acidity. The finish is lively and enjoyably high in acidity with fresh flavors of ripe citrus fruits, some creamy oak, a little bit of vanilla, light mineral notes of tangy salinity, a hint of mealy red apple and a touch of crunchy quince.
A fresh and remarkably youthful effort for a white Musar at 15½ years of age. Tasting this between vintages 2005 and 2003, the 2004 felt years younger than either one of the surrounding vintages, reminding me more of the vintage 2007. However, due to the lack of development, the wine is without the depth and complexity typical of Musar at this age, making it come across as slightly underwhelming. The freshness here is very lovely and the fruit certainly isn’t lacking in intensity, so this is not a disappointment despite its somewhat understated character. I guess this is just a very backward vintage that is aging at a glacial pace. No need to hurry with this - most likely is going to need many more years before really starting to show those lovely developed Musar Blanc characteristics. Priced according to its quality at 42,60€. (90 pts.)
2003 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
Made atypically with a blend of 60% Merwah (Sémillon) and 40% Obaideh (Chardonnay) grapes. 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.
Medium-deep golden-yellow color with a pale bronze core. Somewhat restrained, savory and slightly oxidative nose with aromas of roasted nuts, some smoke, a little bit of honeydew melon, light bruised apple tones, a hint of cloudberry jam and a touch of browned butter. The wine is ripe, moderately full-bodied and quite dry with savory, umami-driven flavors of nuttiness, some bruised apple, a little bit of tangy salinity, light honeyed tones, an autumnal hint of dry leaves and an oxidative touch of brioche. Despite its richness and quite big body, the wine is enjoyably high in acidity, keeping the wine in balance with good freshness. The finish is fresh, lively and pretty savory with quite long and somewhat developed and slightly oxidative flavors of wizened red apples, some ripe citrus fruits, a little bit of tangy sea salt, light umami notes of kombu, a hint of nutty complexity and a touch of buckwheat honey.
My previous assessment with this vintage seemed to go wrong: in May 2016 I found this even more impressive than the then-great 2005 vintage and thought this was still going to develop wonderfully in a cellar. Now, 4 years later, this wine seems to be getting slightly tired and is starting to show the first signs of not only oxidative characteristics, but oxidation, perhaps signaling the start of downhill, while the vintage 2005 was as beautiful as ever. Apparently this vintage - atypically Merwah-driven - doesn’t seem to be that long-lived after all. It is impressively complex with beautiful harmony between the freshness and richness, and still quite terrific stuff even in the Musar scale, but nevertheless the age seems to be creeping in. Unless this was a prematurely developed bottle, I doubt this vintage will be as long-lived as the best ones. Outstanding value at 29,70€, all the same. (93 pts.)
2001 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
2001 was 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. 12,5% alcohol.
Deep, concentrated burnished golden color with a thin, colorless rim. Surprisingly mute - almost dead - nose with nuanced yet very subtle, sweet-toned aromas of pineapple, some mushroomy tones, a little bit of overripe apricot, light notes of beeswax and a lifted hint of nail polish VA. The wine is oily, full-bodied and rather concentrated on the palate with developed and rather reticent flavors of wizened peach, some mushroomy umami tones, a little bit of overripe apricot, light developed notes of bruised apple, a hint of chopped almonds and a touch of orange marmalade. The wine is only medium in acidity, which feels relatively low for a white Musar, and makes the wine come across as rather weighty, even heavy. The finish is rich, concentrated and heavy, but not particularly powerful. A long yet slightly underwhelming aftertaste of peach, some wizened apricot, a little bit of exotic spice, light bruised apple tones, a hint of browned butter and an oxidative touch of nutty complexity.
A few years ago I had this wine multiple times and it was constantly one of the most impressive white Musars - both in verticals and on its own. However, the wine seems to have been peaking then, since now the overall feel here is noticeably less favorable: the wine still retains that impeccable complexity, but has lost intensity along the way, making the wine come relatively mild and underwhelming in aroma and taste. Furthermore, this has always been a relatively low-acid vintage for a white Musar. While the rich, concentrated and complex fruit has always made up for that lack of zip and verve, now the wine starts to come across as rather tired and heavy. It is still very delicious, but knowing how extraordinary this wine is at its best, this is a far cry from those experiences. Nevertheless, solid value at 30€. (92 pts.)
Deep and very slightly hazy golden yellow color with bronze overtones. Developed, very complex and captivating bouquet of wizened apricots, some bretty notes of leather, a little bit of ripe clementine, light sweet notes of nail polish VA, a sweet hints of Sultana raisins and cloudberry jam and a touch of marzipan. The wine is full-bodied, somewhat oily and very complex on the palate with layered and rather concentrated flavors of dried spicy herbs, developed nuttiness, some mushroomy tones, a little bit of beeswax, light sweet notes of Sultana raisins and baked apple, a hint of stony minerality and a sweet touch of volatile lift. The moderately high acidity keep the wine remarkably well in balance, lending it good sense of structure and even some nice zip of freshness. The finish is ripe, rich and very long with complex flavors of dried pineapple, some developed nutty tones, a little bit of baked apple, light notes of beeswax, a hint of marzipan and a lifted touch of sweet nail polish VA.
A stunningly beautiful and immensely complex Musar Blanc with some obvious age, but still enough life left to the wine to suggest it has still some potential for future development. Unlike the bottle I had 4 years ago, which might have taken a hit along the way (based on its slightly oxidative streak of Sherried streak of sharp aldehydic tang), this bottle was just singing. Although not among the high-acid vintages of Musar Blanc, there was still more than enough acidity to keep the wine nicely in balance - however, the wine certainly benefits from cooler serving temperature that can boost the impression of acidity. All in all, an outstanding wine for a Musar Blanc and for any white wine. This was just silly good. Easily among the most impressive wines in the tasting. Ridiculous value at 44,10€. (97 pts.)
Luminous, moderately deep bronze color. Very rich, concentrated and moderately developed - yet not old - bouquet with slightly restrained yet very seductive aromas of wizened nectarine, some resinous waxy tones, a little bit of orange marmalade, light cloudberry jam tones, hints of acacia honey and a touch of roasted nuts. The wine is rich, full-bodied and very complex on the palate with layered and slightly restrained flavors of bruised apples, some oxidative nuttiness, a little bit of creamy panna cotta, light smoky tones, hints of dried exotic fruits and a touch of browned butter. Despite its lushness and dried-fruit flavors, the overall impression is more dry than sweeter-toned. High acidity. Complex and quite developed finish with layered, savory flavors of mealy red apples, some developed notes of caramel and nuttiness, a little bit of browned butter, light baked apple tones, a hint of toffee and a touch of tangy salinity.
A wonderful, immensely complex and lush Musar Blanc at its peak of maturity. The age has started to bring in subtle elements of oxidative nuttiness into the tertiary notes of dried fruits and caramel, suggesting the wine is less likely to evolve anywhere from here but down. Fortunately the wine is still just oxidative, not oxidized at this point. Very impressive and captivating wine that is cerebral as much as it is enjoyable. Perhaps a bit less impressive than the more concentrated and expressive vintage 1999 that was tasted alongside, but a wonderful wine all the same. Very highly recommended. A bargain at 34,20€. (95 pts.)
1992 Chateau Musar Blanc - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (15.2.2020)
1992 was a very cool and rainy vintage, so Merwah grapes never fully ripened and this wine was made exceptionally from Obaideh only. 12,5% alcohol.
Deep, concentrated burnished yellow color with a pale coppery core. Developed, toasty and very complex nose with beguiling aromas of smoke, caramel, some Sultana raisins, a little bit of canned apricot, light oxidative notes of roasted nuts and peanut butter, a sweet hint of orange marmalade and a touch of popcorn. The wine is very concentrated, but also surprisingly lean and precise on the palate with medium body and high acidity. Intense and very complex flavors of pineapple, vanilla custard pastry, peanut butter, some smoky tones and a little bit of popcorn, light bruised apple tones, a hint of tangy salinity and a developed touch of caramel and toffee. The structured acidity makes the wine feel wonderfully balanced. The finish is developed, complex and very lengthy with intense, layered flavors of roasted nuts, saline minerality, some toasty notes of toffee and vanilla custard pastries, a little bit of baked apple, light notes of wizened peach, a hint of golden raisins and a touch of beeswax.
Just like last time I had this wine four years ago, this is a ridiculously beautiful white wine showing incredible sense of balance, depth and complexity. Some people in the tasting said that the wine was good, but nothing spectacular. To each their own, but I myself couldn’t disagree more: what more could you want from a white wine? To me, this is pretty much everything one could ask from a dry white. I feel the wine is missing nothing and nothing is in excess; I find it hard to think how this could be any better. An extraordinary wine and tasting it is an astonishing experience, every time. (99 pts.)
Posted from CellarTracker