Chateau Musar Red 1998, Bekaa Valley
The cooler 1998 has an elegant Cinsault dominance; the colour is lighter and more delicately perfumed than a typical
vintage. Despite this initial impression, the wine is deceptively powerful with a vibrant acidity and fresh, soft red fruit
flavours and a very long, spicy finish.
In 1930, 20-year-old Gaston Hochar founded Chateau Musar after his travels in Bordeaux and the rich heritage of winemaking in Lebanon. In 1959 Gaston’s son Serge, took on the running of the business, demanding that his father step aside to let him put his new ideas and methods to the test. That decision was pivotal and over the following years Serge achieved his stated aim of making a wine that would be known all over the world. Today, the Hochar family are still proudly at the helm of their iconic business with Serge’s two sons, Gaston and Marc being responsible for the day-to-day and commercial aspects of the winery. The winemaking methodology is, as Serge Hochar always intended, non-interventionist and natural, with ambient yeasts in the fermentation, a bare minimum of sulphur employed, and no fining or filtration of the finished Chateau Musar wine. It is absolutely the intention that every vintage be different, ‘to make wine on the edge’ as Serge put it. This approach leads to wines that to some are infuriatingly inconsistent and to many others beguilingly so. Let’s give the last word on this to Serge, who was decanter Man of the Year in 1984: ‘I once produced a wine that was technically perfect, but it lacked the charms of imperfection.
Fermentation progressed smoothly, although slightly quicker than usual, maceration was up to four weeks. The wines were racked into French Nevers oak casks in August 1999 and aged for twelve months, then blended in September 2000 and bottled in August 2001.