Ask any wine lover to list wines they have tasted from unlikely places and nine times out of ten, I bet they’ll put the Lebanon’s Chateau Musar near the top of the list. A true ‘Marmite’ experience, the wines of Musar are something you either love or just don’t get. My first encounter with them was whilst I was at university and came across the charismatic Serge Hochar presenting, amongst other vintages, his 1978. I was instantly hooked and years later, when I had the opportunity to introduce Musar to BWI, I discovered an eager audience amongst our clients.
On 23rd May, in the Library of London’s The Arch Hotel, Serge and his son Gaston presided over a BWI Winemaker Dinner for a small group of our clients. On taste were a range of Musar reds and whites, including the 1978 red, which was still going strong after all these years. Serge is a great advocate of extended ageing for his wines and described the 1956 as his youngest wine!
The Arch’s head chef created a bespoke menu for us, pairing each of his courses with the various Musar vintage on taste. I have to admit to being slightly hesitant when he first suggested the Beetroot Carpaccio but as it turned out, this was my favourite combination of the evening. The main course of Fillet of Scotch beef was delicately cooked to perfection (no mean feat for 35 covers) and we finished up with a generous selection of English and French cheeses.
Perhaps the greatest revelation was the profound quality of the whites, which Serge intriguingly described as the finest of his reds and insisted, should always be served lightly cool, never chilled. There was plenty of lively debate as to which of the red vintages showed best but ultimately it was the 1999 which was came out on top as the best wine to drink now, especially given its incredibly reasonable price.
All in all, it was a night to remember, in the presence of one of the fine wine world’s legends. If you’ve yet to experience Musar, give me a call and I’ll enthuse some more…