Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1987 Chateau Musar Rouge from Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

This was the last wine of the evening and it was just lovely.

Karyn and I visited Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley more than 5 years ago now and it seems like yesterday. The earth there is bright red with iron. Kind of reminds me of the garance colored soil of the Southern Rhone but lots deeper topsoil.

Anyway, you can taste the soil in this wine, and a whole lot of other things.

First things first. We brought back this 1987 bottle from our trip after tasting 20 different vintages in the cellar with Serge Hochar and his son, Gaston. The 1987 stood out to me as one of the best Musar wines I had ever had so Serge kindly offered me a bottle to take home on the plane. (I also brought home a bottle of the mythical 1968, a rain-damaged vintage that he has kept, all 30,000 bottles of it or so as he won't tell me how many he actually has, in their vast cellars hoping that it would one day miraculously turn into something more. But in our tasting of it, there was no possible of a miracle happening. :-( But since it is my birth year wine, I had to have some . . .)

This wine has knocked around our garage for the past few years and although that couldn't have been good for it, there was no discernible flaws from heat or light.

The color was deeper than you would have thought for a 23 year old wine. I would say a ruby core out to a more ruby/orange rim.

The nose was the first thing that jumped out at me. And it literally jumped out of the glass after being decanted by Jon of Jaynes. It is a mix that is hard to describe. On one hand, there is the almost balsamic vinegar of a little volatile acidity wafting into your nose but at the same time, the crushed violets, smell of creosote and other herbs of Provence balance this out. Cranberries, cigar box (cedar and tobacco together) and almost a menthol like eucalyptus were all there.

In the mouth, the wine was surprisingly vibrant with lots of acidity and tannins that were soft and plush but a little gritty, too. The balsamic note and maybe a little soy sauce could be tasted as well as cranberry jelly and warm blood, like that of when you bite your lip. Every sip of the wine tasted different and with food, it was even better.

With every mouthful, I was transported back to Lebanon for another sense memory moment of our trip. The smell of the land and of the ocean which can be smelled from almost everywhere.

The beauty of the people and the unforgettable hospitality, unlike any other.

If you can still find some, I highly recommend you go seek this wine out.

Thanks for reading.

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