A guide to the style
In their youth: yellow-gold, subtly oaky, and creamy-textured, rich yet dry and intensely citrusy, with honeyed nuances. Wholly unique, the style has been described as resembling ‘dry Sauternes’ or mature white Graves. Chateau Musar Whites develop tawny hues and mellow spicy characters as they age. The cellars at Ghazir holds bottles of this wine dating as far back as 1954.
Grapes and vines
Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar White is a blend of ancient grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, indigenous to the mountains of Lebanon and said to be related to Chasselas Chardonnay and Semillon. The Obaideh vineyards are in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountains on stony, chalky soils, while the Merwah vines are on the seaward side of Mount Lebanon, on calcareous gravels. Yields are very low for these untrained bushvines: 10 – 20 hl per hectare. At high altitude (around 1400m) they are still on their own roots, among very few vineyards in the world of this calibre.
Chateau Musar White is fermented in French oak barriques (from the forest of Nevers) for 9 months, bottled and blended at the end of its first year and released seven years after the harvest.
Decanting and serving
Concentrated and complex, Chateau Musar Whites show at their best after several hours’ ‘breathing time’, and should be served ‘cellar cool’ at around 15°C. They excel with pâtés (especially foie gras), rillettes, seafood dishes and will match spicy food as the wine has such intense flavours.
To keep the wines showing at their best, bottles must be cellared in darkness, lying on their sides and not subjected to unnecessary movement or fluctuations in temperature.
“Musar’s whites and rosés are less well-known. More’s the pity: both are unusual and superb.” – ANDREW JEFFORD, ‘DECANTER’, JANUARY 2004.