January 22, 2017

Vertical of the month: Château Musar Blanc 1991-2007

Château Musar is definitely a winery not in need of introductions: although having been on the UK market since the 1960's, this Lebanese winery first sprang into limelight back in 1979 when Christie's auctioneer and wine professional Michael Broadbent discovered Musar Red 1967. Not long thereafter the winery started to gain appreciation from all around the globe and Musar's Serge Hochar was even the first ever Man of the Year of the respected Decanter magazine in 1984. Although the Musar wines are known far and wide, they still manage to somewhat remain in the underground: they have never gained the same kind of mainstream recognition like the biggest Chateaux of Bordeaux, the greatest Domaines of Burgundy, or the most hyped wineries of California. It might of course have something to do with the very natural style of Musar, which often results in wines very irregular and even some obvious bottle variations between bottlings of one vintage. For some this can be an insurmountable obstacle, whereas for others – ones like me – this means only an increase in the wine's curiosity value: every vintage and even every bottle of Musar can be an adventure!

Our lineup from May 28th, 2016
But in the off chance that one hadn't heard about Musar before, I suppose an introduction of sorts is in place. If you know Musar beforehand, there's probably nothing new here, so please skip the following paragraphs and check out the wine reviews.

Château Musar (stylized Chateau Musar in the labels), founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar in Castle Mzar from the 18 th century, is located close to Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The vines are not grown next to the winery, but instead in Beqaa valley, a particularly fertile region some 40 km (24 miles) east from Beirut. Here, from an altitude of 900 meters (3,000 feet), always up to 1,200 meters (4,000 feet), the Musar winery cultivates their grapes, which are a array of French varieties mainly grown in Mediterranean. The red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsaut, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, whereas the whites are lesser known local varieties of Merwah and Obaideh. However, in truth, these two white varieties are Sémillon (Merwah) and Chardonnay (Obaideh) – only they are clones that have been brought to Lebanon centuries ago, becoming somewhat distinct local clones from the original French ones, regarded as indigenous white varieties of Lebanon, yet genetically identical to the original varieties. The Merwah and Obaideh vines of Musar are still ungrafted (growing on their own root systems) and extremely old, some over 100 years of age, growing in the highest vineyards of Musar, at 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) above sea level.

In 1959 Serge Hochar, son of Gaston Hochar, took over the winery, after having finished his winemaking studies in Bordeaux. As he took over, he started developing his own style of the wine: Serge didn't want to make the wines like the other wineries were making, but instead found inspiration from more traditional way of winemaking, where wine more or less just "happened" without much intervention from the winemaker. Since 1977 the wines have been made in an unchanged style: the grapes are just crushed and left to ferment on their own with indigenous yeasts. No yeast inoculations or additives are used and the use of sulfur is kept at minimum, letting the nature go its course without winemaker's manipulation. The resulting wines are very unique, often very rustic and exhibiting characteristics like brettanomyces or pronounced volatile acidity – traits often considered as unwanted, even faults – yet also remarkably balanced and capable of aging easily for decades.

Unfortunately, on the last day of 2014, Serge Hochar died in Mexico, at the age of 75. When the news broke out of this great loss, long obituaries were released throughout the global wine media, affirming the impact Serge had made with his uncompromising wines. Although it will take many years before the post-Serge wines are released to the market, the winery has assured that nothing in their winemaking will change: the wines will still be made in Serge's minimalist style that made the wines so popular.

The standard wine range of Musar comprises of three tiers, with total seven wines.

  • In the bottom tier is the Musar Jeune range, which are made from the fruit of younger vineyards or from the grapes that didn't go into the wines of the better two tiers. This range comprises a red, a rosé and a white wine. They are simple, unoaked and inexpensive wines meant to be consumed young and aimed at the restaurant market.
  • The middle range includes only one wine, the single-vineyard red wine Hochar Père et Fils. The vineyard from which the grapes are sourced for this wine is younger, located a bit lower than the main Musar vineyards and they produce a wine somewhat distinctive from the Musar red – one that is a little less concentrated, more mellow and easier to approach in its youth. The wine is fermented partially in cement and partially in oak vats, after which it is aged in French oak barrels for 9 months, bottled unfined and unfiltered and aged for a further two years. This wine is often regarded as the "second wine" of the winery and as it is usually released earlier than the Musar red, it is often used as an indicator of the vintage's quality.
  • The top tier includes the three wines labeled as Chateau Musar; the red, the rosé and the white. Out of these wines, the red one comprises the great majority of production (from a third to almost half of the winery's total production of some 700–800,000 bottles), whereas the white's production normally hovers around the 10–30,000 bottle mark . The rosé is by far the rarest Musar, as it is not made every year – and in those years when it is made, the amount of bottles produced is only some thousands. The red Musar is the wine the winery is best known for. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsaut, left to ferment in cement tanks on indigenous yeasts. After the fermentation, the wine is aged for 1 year in oak barrels (approx. 25%–35% new), after which the wine is returned back to the concrete vats. During the next year, the wine blend is assembled, bottled, unfined and unfiltered. What makes the wine so unique is that it is not released until the winery deems it ready, a process which normally takes 7–10 years – the 2009 vintage was released only recently and the vintage 2006 is still aging in the cellars. Furthermore, Musar normally keeps up to 25% of the annual production stored in their cellars for later release.

The whites, although not as well-known as the reds (most likely due to their scarcity), are the wines Serge Hochar held in highest regard. He often claimed that his whites were his true red wines, as they are so rich, concentrated and unique compared to regular white wines, often overshadowing even the remarkable red wines. The centenarian Obaideh and Merwah vineyards produce extremely small yields (10–20 hl/ha) of concentrated fruit, fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in French oak barriques for 9 months, after which the wines are bottled. Even the whites are aged for a minimum of 7 years before release.

What is remarkable in Musar wines that they have been produced in a politically highly volatile area, where tensions and shoot-outs are not uncommon. Despite these difficulties, the wines were produced systematically even during the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990), when tensions were at their highest and bombshells were exploding all the way from Beirut to Beqaa and even in the vineyards. However, occasionally the grapes could not be transported directly via roads (some 70 km / 45 miles) from the Beqaa valley to the winery due to the unstable situations; in some cases the grapes had to be transported by taking a longer (250 km / 150 miles) detour, and once even by driving to the seaside and shipping them from port to port. To this date there have been only three vintages that have not been released:
  • The vintage of 1976 was lost due to the civil war: unstable situations prevented the workers to reach the vineyards and the crop was lost.
  • The vintage of 1984 was made, but there were great difficulties reaching the vineyards and transporting the fruit back to the winery – as it was impossible to reach the winery by land due to roads being closed, it was necessary to ship the fruit by sea. Due to this, the grapes were very overripe and started fermenting on their own before the winery was reached. The wine was practically undrinkable due to heavy flaws for years, even decades, but recent tastings have confirmed that the wine has changed into something remarkable after having been cellared for more than 30 years. The wine, however, still remains unreleased.
  • There were big uncertainties whether it was even possible to make the vintage 2006 due to the conflicts between Hezbollah and Israel. However, a ceasefire was announced shortly before the harvest and the grapes could be recovered from the vineyards. Although other 2006 wines have been released, the Musar Red 2006 still remains unreleased at the time of writing for more or less undisclosed reasons.

Well, I guess that includes what one should really know about Musar. Now, let's move on to the tasting notes. During 2016, I attended three different Musar verticals and enjoyed Musars both red and white in numerous other occasions. Some of these wines are enjoyed while contrasting them to other vintages, others are enjoyed purely on their own. Whatever the occasion, I always tried my best not to just evaluate the wine, but also to reflect back to the vintages, seeing how the wine performed against the other vintages.

Château Musar Blanc
  • Château Musar
  • Country: Lebanon
  • Region: Beqaa
  • Grape(s): Obaideh (Chardonnay), Merwah (Sémillon)

Background: The top white wine of Château Musar and the favorite wine of late Serge Hochar. Made from the Merwah and Obaideh grapes (old Lebanes clones of Sémillon and Chardonnay) sourced from ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards over 50 years of age, located at the altitude of 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) above sea level. Due to the high altitude, the wines are remarkably fresh and relatively low in alcohol (normally 12–12,5%) – up in the mountains the climate is remarkably cool, comparable to eg. Bordeaux, France, even though Lebanon is otherwise a rather hot Mediterranean country. Normally the base blend for the white is approximately 2/3 of Obaideh and 1/3 of Merwah, but the proportions might vary according to the vintage. The wine is fermented on indigenous yeasts in French 225-liter barriques and left to age for 9 months before bottling


Château Musar Blanc 2007
  • Tasted on: 28th of May, 2016

An uneven vintage with a sudden spring frost disturbing the growth cycle and a heat wave in August hastening the ripening process before the harvest.

The wine shows pale yellow color – frankly rather youthful for a white Musar. The creamy nose is a bit reticent with aromas of beeswax, green and yellow apples, some coconut oil, a little vanilla and a hint of crushed nuts. On the palate the wine is quite full-bodied and somewhat oily with succulent flavors of ripe citrus and lemon curd, creaminess, some coconut, a little stony minerality, a hint of vanilla and a touch of smoke. Overall the wine shows good freshness and structure with moderately high acidity. The finish is pretty long and somewhat bitter with an aftertaste of ripe apple, creamy complexity, stony minerality, a little coconut and a hint of vanilla.

Tthis is a delightful and balanced white, but also painfully primary for a white Musar, lacking the depth and complexity of the older vintages. Although it is drinking wonderfully now, the wine lacks all the things an older Musar can offer. Definitely not in need to be opened anytime soon.

Summary: Overall this is a very recommended Musar, but only to be cellared extensively; probably this is never going to be a top vintage of Musar White, but it has all the necessary pieces to turn into something beautiful with age. The score reflects its current status; probably the wine will gain a handful of points more once it reaches maturity. No need to open these at least in the next 5-10 years. Remarkably better than the red 2007.


Château Musar Blanc 2006
  • Tasted on: 28th of January, 2016

A very difficult vintage, but not that much because of the climatic conditions, but due to the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. Fortunately a ceasefire came before the harvest and Merwah was particularly late-ripening this year, harvested after mid-October.

Medium deep honeyed yellow color. The wine has a bit reticent and somewhat waxy nose with aromas of cloudberry, dried peach, overripe yellow apple, some leather and a hint of beeswax; the nose seems to evolve constantly, no sniff being the same. On the palate the wine is dry and moderately full-bodied with high acidity. There are rich and supple yet slightly angular flavors of citrus fruits, waxy lanolin, beeswax, umami, some cream, a little aromatic herbs and a hint of stony minerality. The finish is dry, crisp and refreshing with quite prominent bitterness and a long aftertaste of ripe citrus fruits, green apple, some creaminess and a hint of spicy wildhoney.

This is a crisp, bright and refreshing Musar Blanc that is still way too primary. For any other wine, the above description of aromas and flavors might suggest some maturity, but this wine is still so simple and one-dimensional for a Musar; it shows very youthful, crisp, fruit-forward characteristics without any of the depth and concentration an aged Musar develops. However, it sports lovely structure and freshness, speaking volumes about its cellaring potential.

Summary: I imagine this one will never be one of those stupendous Musar super whites, even with extended cellaring, but instead one of those more delicate and elegant Burgundian Musar whites. Although it is too young to be truly enjoyed now, the wine shows some truly beautiful character already and will without a doubt develop really nicely in a cellar. A bargain at only ~30€.


Château Musar Blanc 2005
  • Tasted on: 23rd of October, 2015

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.

Medium deep, developed golden yellow color. Elegant nose that is dry and savory, yet not something unlike a sweet dessert wine, being slightly oxidized in a lovely way and complemented with aromas of freshly pressed apple juice, honeydew melon, apricot, vanillin, some nuts , a little bit of Corn Flakes-y aromatics and a delicate hints of orange blossom. The dry, complex and developed taste has transcended the youthful fruit phase into the tertiary caleidoscope of beeswax, dried herbs, some oxidized nuts, a little vanilla and a hint of bergamot; a streak of Amontillado-like salinity lingers underneath the palate. The mouthfeel is full and waxy yet remarkably fresh, lively and acidic at the same time. The structure is truly wonderful. Juicy, nuanced and complex finish with flavors of nuts, honey, vanilla, salty minerality and a hint of green apples.

Overall this is an incredible white combining the lush Musar White complexity with incredible freshness and structure. It is incredible already now, but it also shows lots of potential for further development, being a testament to how 2005 is a wonderful vintage not only for the red Musar, but for the white as well.

Summary: This is very far removed from those simple, fresh and fruity modern whites, making this wine even more unique – although it would be wonderful in its own right, no matter what kind of wines it would be compared against. I find it hard to imagine a better wine, unless it is a wine like this, only with even more age and complexity. That means I can hardly wait for this wine to reach its maturity. This is hands down one of the best Musar White vintages I've tasted and definitely one of the best whites you can buy for 30,90€.


Château Musar Blanc 2004
  • Tasted on: 28th of May, 2016

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. This resulted in wines with remarkably high acidity and low alcohol levels.

Deep golden yellow with a lighter, lemony hue. Very developed nose with aromas of wet dog, nuttiness and some smoke. Very developed, intense and even concentrated flavors of beeswax, bitter spiciness, some smoke, a little nuttiness and a hint of saline minerality. Overall the wine seems lively and surprisingly opulent regarding its low alcohol, with moderately high acidity. The midpalate segues into long and spicy finish with developed flavors of wax, ground roasted nuts, some old wood and a hint of vanilla.

Summary: This vintage is an elegant white Musar that is showing much more mature character than a white Musar should at this age, making me question the wine's provenance. It is lovely on its own with interesting complexity, but suffers greatly in a vertical of white Musars from 2007 to 1998, with many older vintages showing a lot more youth. It might be that this is a faster-developing vintage, but it also might be that this is probably not the most representative bottle of this vintage, which is why you might want to take my score with a grain of salt.


Château Musar Blanc 2003
  • Tasted on: 28th of May, 2016

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 remaining grapes substantially. However, July and August were cooler than normal, delaying the ripening process. The harvest was carried out by normal schedule. The wine blend has a bigger proportion of Merwah than normal.

The color is rather deep, developed golden yellow. The wine shows an attractive, waxy bouquet with complex, savory and developed aromas of beeswax, almond, dusty furniture, wizened apricots, cream, some nutty oxidation, a little orange blossom and a hint of sweet white peach. On the palate it is full-bodied and oily with pure, intense flavors of fresh apple, ripe citrus fruit, stony minerality, some cream, a little orange peel and a touch of honey without any honeyed sweetness. The palate is a lot less developed than the nose, lacking the nutty characteristics almost completely, and although it feels quite voluminous, the palate still comes across as surprisingly light with remarkable freshness and good, bright acidity. The wine finishes with a very long, complex and intriguing aftertaste with persistent, layered flavors of peach, dried pineapple, cream, some wizened peach, a little almond, a hint of orange peel and a touch of something wild and a bit funky.

Summary: A truly remarkable vintage of white Musar and hands down one of the best white wines I've ever had; in its current state, this one surpasses even the truly wonderful Musar Blanc 2005 – although only time will tell which one will ultimately be better with extended cellar age. This is drinking wonderfully right now, but the palate has still a lot of youth, vigor and freshness left in it, so there is no need to hurry – this wine is all about cellaring potential. Profound stuff, extremely recommended.


Château Musar Blanc 2002

A hailstorm annihilated all the Merwah crops, so Musar Blanc 2002 was never released.


Château Musar Blanc 2001
  • Tasted on: 28th of January, 2016

A very hot and dry vintage: by mid-February the weather turned to much more warmer than usual with almost nonexistent rains. After relatively normal weather during the flowering, the weather turned hotter than normal for July and August. The harvest was carried by normal schedule in October with the harvested fruit being lower in acidity than normal.

The wine has a dark honeyed yellow color with pale copper hue. Upon opening the nose is surprisingly pungent and smoky with rather dominant aromas of burnt wood and mocha. However, these aromas blow off as the wine aereates, revealing an utterly complex, developed bouquet of pineapple, waxy lanolin, orange peel, autumnal leafy aromas, some vanilla, developed floral nuances and faint oxidized hints of hazelnuts. In the mouth the wine is rich, concentrated and opulent with full body; even though the wine comes across as quite big, it doesn't feel heavy nor flabby. There are intense and very complex flavors of beeswax, dried peach, stony minerality, creaminess, some aromatic herbal notes and a hint of developed nuttiness. There's medium acidity that gives some freshness to the wine when cool, but fades into the background as the wine gets warmer. The wine ends with a very complex and persistent, developed finish with concentrated, honeyed notes, dried yellow stone fruits, creaminess, stony minerality, some vanilla, a little almond or hazelnut and a touch of saline tang.

2001 is truly an extraordinary vintage of white Musar that transcends the state of being just white wine and becomes something more profound; an ideal of what a wine can be. It shows remarkable depth, complexity, power and concentration with impeccable balance. It also requires moderately long aeration of several hours and needs to be served cool enough just to push the modest acidity up a little.

Summary: A true masterpiece with otherworldly QPR at 35 to 40€. Despite its lower-than-normal acidity, this is not only one of the greatest white Musars I've had, but also one of the most profound white wines I've ever drunk.


Château Musar Blanc 2000
  • Tasted on: 28th of January, 2016

Deep golden yellow color. Heavy, musty aromas of TCA. Shucks.



Château Musar Blanc 1999
  • Tasted on: 28th of May, 2016

A great vintage that had mild weather throughout the growing season, keeping the growth in check, until weather warmed slowly but steadily towards the harvest, resulting in remarkable power and concentration.

Golden yellow with a copper hue with a slightest bit of residue. Dry, spicy and developed nose with peculiar aromas of bruised cider apples, funky cheese rind, some mature honeyed character, a little nuttiness and a hint of smoke. On the palate the wine is dry, full-bodied and rich and it seems a lot younger than the mature and slightly smoky nose suggested. Intense, concentrated and ripe flavors of lemony citrus fruits, beeswax, cream, sweet cantaloupe, saline Fino Sherry tang, some browned apple core, a little stony minerality, a hint of almond, a hint of saffron and faint nuances of bretty leather. Rich, ripe and a bit heavy finish with complex, persistent flavors of ripe citrus fruit, candied ginger, stony minerality, some old wood spice, a little leather and a touch of wildhoney. There is also a faint sense of tannic grip and also a suggestion of coarse sensation in the throat, hinting perhaps for a faint touch of mousiness.

A wonderful, complex and delightful Musar with lots of aged Musar depth and complexity. However, the wine does not reach the profound levels of 2001 and 2003, as it feels a bit too heavy and ponderous at times.

Summary: Although the wine is starting to show some aged characteristics, there is still a lot of life to the wine with cellaring potential of several more years, maybe a decade. However, I suspect that this wine will not age as gracefully as some of the other great vintages. It might be that this wine was not in pristine condition, but in the case it was, apparently in 1999 the red version fared a bit better.


Château Musar Blanc 1998
  • Tasted on: 28th of May, 2016

A cooler-than-normal vintage resulting in lighter and more delicate wines with less oomph and more precision.

Mature deep golden color with a copper hue. Mature, but quite reticent and a bit muted nose with developed floral aromatics, sweet apple puree, some almond paste, a little dried yellow stone fruits and a hint of leather. Full-bodied and velvety smooth, even a bit oily mouthfeel with developed, complex and quite concentrated flavors that show pretty much ripeness. Rich, succulent notes of apple marmalade, ripe yellow plums, wizened peach, some vanilla, a little mature honeyed character and a hint of saline acetaldehyde tang. Moderate acidity that is in good balance with the body. Ripe, fruity and moderately long finish with flavors of pineapple, apple jam, wizened apricot, some dried peach, a little leathery brett character and a faint hint of saline tang.

This is a wonderful, balanced old white Musar with lots of elegance, showing a bit more ripeness than white Musars normally do with more emphasis on the sweet fruit than the depth and complexity that emerge with bottle age – or then it's just the concentrated richness that emerges with bottle age. Whatever the case, we have here really tasty and attractive stuff, albeit not as impressive as the best ones can be. 

Summary: This is a surprisingly youthful and supple effort with many years – possibly even decades – ahead and with good room for development. Although not as impressive as the best vintages, I wouldn't be surprised if this wine showed beautifully after another decade.


Château Musar Blanc 1995
  • Tasted on: 28th of January, 2016

A really high-quality vintage with great concentration of high-quality fruit, although the quantity of fruit was relatively low due to hailstorms that brought the amount of harvested fruit down by 30%.

The wine's luminous pale bronze color is showing some signs of age. Somewhat developed and incredibly complex nose exhibiting aromas of dried orange, roasted nuts, volatile notes of nail polish remover and balsamico, some tawny-ish oxidation, a little savory wood character, a hint of overripe apricot and a whiff of brett. It is full-bodied and rich on the palate, yet with tight and paradoxically almost austere structure. Layered, complex and mature flavors of surprisingly pronounced bitterness, wet rock minerality, wizened peach, some dry honey, notes of orange pith, a little browned butter and a hint of vanilla. Although the wine feels rich and developed, the racy acidity is surprisingly high and gives the wine a lot of freshness and focus. The finish is extremely long and layered with pronounced bitterness and very persistent aftertaste of wildhoney, dried pineapple, some beeswax, a little tangy salinity and a hint of nutty oxidation.

Now this is a fascinating example of a 20 years old white Musar showing some signs of age, but only in the nose and in the flavors – not in the tightly wound, almost austere structure, that seems to have remarkably long life ahead. If the wine is this tight and nervous after all this cellaring, I doubt that the wine will ever resolve into something more relaxed, even with extended aging. However, the wine is drinking beautifully now and will most likely keep for a number of years, probably even over a decade.

Summary: A very attractive and enjoyable effort; one of the better vintages of white Musar. However, the wine is starting to get a bit expensive at 65–75€ or even more.


Château Musar Blanc 1992
  • Tasted on: 24th of February, 2016

A difficult, super-wet vintage when especially the red grapes fared poorly and no red Musar was released, as the grapes were declassified to be used in lower-tier bottlings. Almost all of the Merwah crop was lost, so this is supposedly a 100% Obaideh.

The wine appears deep golden yellow with a deep bronze hue. It has incredibly complex, concentrated nose with aromas of dried aromatic herbs, nut paste, dried pineapple, peach marmalade, some créme brûlèe, a little vanilla, a hint of smoke, nuances of Amaretto and a touch of carrot purée. You don't even want to proceed to tasting the wine, as the nose is simply so absorbing. The wine is full-bodied, textural and slightly oily on the palate with obvious concentration from the age. There are layered, intermingling flavors of yellow apple, creaminess, some wizened peach, a little vanilla, a hint of bitter almond extract and a touch of spicy wildhoney without any of that honeyed sweetness. That good, bright acidity gives the wine terrific focus and structure. The midpalate segues into long, lively and mineral finish with complex, layered flavors of dried apricot, honey, some cream, a little vanilla, a hint of ripe citrus and a touch of sweet woody caramel. The aftertaste lingers on the tongue for minutes, evolving constantly into something new and intriguing.

Although the 1992 was not a vintage for the red Musar, it's white counterpart is truly a perfect example of this unique style. At this point the wine shows incredible complexity, texture, structure and depth without any signs of going past its peak anytime soon.

Summary: Perhaps the greatest white Musar (or any white wine for that matter) I've had to this date. Truly a dumbfounding experience. Simply spectacular.


Château Musar Blanc 1991
  • Tasted on: 28th of January, 2016

I couldn't find any background information about how the conditions were like in this year, but supposedly 1991 is a very highly-rated vintage. According to some sources, 1991 was a vintage in which the winery experimented with new French oak barrels when making the white.

Luminous bronze color with deeper, developed, slightly reddish copper hues. Developed and incredibly complex, yet slightly restrained nose that shows some signs of age in lightly oxidized nuances. Aromas of tangerine peel, dried orange, smoke, some wood bark, a little lanolin waxiness, hints of honeyed beeswax, a touch of hazelnut oxidation and a whiff of caramel; lots of everything. Rich and powerful on the palate, showing some concentration that comes with age. Developed flavors showing enormous complexity; even robust notes of Asian spices, roasted nuts, moderate bitterness, beeswax, some smoke, a little wildhoney, a hint of stony minerality and a touch of candied orange peel. With some aeration the wine seems to settle down in the glass. Good acid brightness and focus. Complex, intense, almost taut and very persistent finish with layered, intermingling flavors of ripe citrus fruits, raw red apple, pronounced bitterness, stony minerality, lanolin waxiness, some dry wildhoney, a little peanut butter and a hint of roasted chestnuts.

This is truly a brilliant old Musar that shows lots of mature characteristics, yet with remarkable freshness and energy. Hard to say whether the wine has already reached its plateau of maturity, or if it is still going up, but nevertheless it is drinking beautifully right now.

Summary: Wonderful balance, structure and depth; this is what old Musar is all about. Will keep easily for years, probably even decades. Not the greatest white Musar I've had, but very close. Truly spectacular. Priced according to its quality at 95€.

Our lineup from January 28th, 2016
Having tasted through these wines I've reached the conclusion so many Musarists have done before me: the white Musars really are some of the most distinctive white wines in the world, and with remarkable aging capability as well! Even though these wines are aged for a good number of years in Château Musar's cellars before release, they are still painfully young when they hit the market. Even though the best vintages can offer some immediate enjoyment upon release, tasting through these older vintages has shown me that the sweet spot of these wines does arrives not until some 15 years after the vintage, when the wines have passed the fruit-forward phase of youth and start to exhibit the waxy, concentrated complexity of an aged white Musar. It is no wonder Serge Hochar called the white Musars his "real red wines", and an oft-seen comparison of aged white Musar to a "dry Sauternes" actually does justice to this wine. After all, these wines do acquire remarkable richness, complexity and even hints of honeyed sweetness with long cellaring, making them feel very much like a good, old Sauternes – only without any of their residual sugar sweetness.

So, if you have never experienced a white Musar, I strongly advise you to get a few bottles in your hands! One does not suffice: you need to get one just to have a general idea of the wine, but let the rest of the bottles age long enough in the cellar! And if you have tasted only young white Musars, don't think you know much – although the best whites can be really lovely when young, the whole idea of these wines is to enjoy them when they start to show their true colors with enough bottle age.

But instead if you have tasted older white Musars and didn't like them – I honestly don't know what's wrong with you.


  1. Great lineup! What a generous amount of lovely wine here!

    1. Thanks! It has been truly a great experience to taste through all of these wines!