5 Decades of Ch. Musar Blanc.... with Serge & Marc Hochar

Dining Room, Aberdeen Marina Club, Hong Kong

Tasted February 20, 2013 by Goldstone with 868 views

Introduction

With Serge Hochar's encouragement, this was a Hong Kong Wine Society follow-on to the "5 Decades of Ch. Musar" flagship red that had been such a success in Hong Kong not so long back in 2012.

This time, at Serge's encouragement, the focus was on Ch. Musar Blanc........and it turned out to be the broadest and most comprehensive horizontal tasting of the wine he can remember...12 vintages from 1966 to 2003.

As with the previous tasting of the red wine, this tasting highlighted the beguiling kaleidescopic constant evolution in the glass of each wine: a great lesson that "volatile acidity" can be a positive characteristic in the right hands.

With 19 people and a total of 20 vintages (see below) the Aberdeen Marina Club did a great job of putting together a simple but well-paired menu for the event and really excellent service (especially handling around 320+ wine glasses all in pristine condition).

Flight 1 - Pre-Dinner Blind Tasting: 12 Vintages of Ch. Musar Blanc (12 notes)

White
1992 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
90 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Bright yellow gold. Wow…nice nose of heady alcohol, polished mahogany furniture and rich honey. Smells young by Musar standards. Palate has bright acidity on the attack with a rich, honeyed middle and fresh Eastern red Turkish Delight. Tastes very young and is light in weight for a Musar Blanc. Rolling resonance. This was a good way to get the tasting started. When revealed, Serge mentioned that the youth is accounted for by the unusual use of 100% Obadiah grape because it was a very wet year and nothing else ripened.
White
1980 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
87 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Bright and alive caramel gold colour. Reticent nose giving little more than shoe polish. Palate is slightly maderized and tartly acidic. A bit faded. Lots of elements like an aged dry fino sherry. Some sweetness emerged with more time in the glass…. dried tangerine peel, as CK pinpointed. Clearly an older wine…. er, though not really by Musar standards. Serge thought that this was the 1975. He also mentioned that this was a year of very low production and that he only released the first bottles 10 years ago.
White
2001 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
91 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Medium-hued caramel gold colour. High notes of alcoholic volatility on the nose followed by marzipan and fresh almond nuts…young but super. Palate was rounded and warm with lower acidity and higher alcohol than preceding wines, to the point of having some alcoholic burn in the stomach on the finish. I correctly identified this as a very young wine (by Musar standards) but was impressed how it continued to put on weight and improved a lot in the glass throughout the long evening. This could be a stunner in another 5-7 years or more and, interestingly, Serge misidentified this as the 1986.
White
1969 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
flawed
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Tawnied and slightly dusky caramel deep gold colour…. looked the oldest of the 12 vintages (actually 2 others were older). Nose was firmly maderized, pongy in a semi-good way and smelt slightly off to me…. or needing another 12 hours’ decant from my previous experiences of old Musar. Oxidized and corked to my palate but others found something to savour here and I was in a minority of one in regarding it as flawed.
White
1989 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
92 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Dark-hued caramel gold colour but still retaining brightness. Intriguing nose that initially mixed fresh cut grass and pongy silage in the same first impression, followed by some not unpleasant sweaty socks that blossomed into ripe Epoisses cheese with more time in the glass. Palate was rather disjointed…. woody on entry followed by burnt almonds, very brassy like the taste of its colour, Christmas nuts left out for a few days. Slight mustiness. I initially marked this as 11th of 12. Then all of a sudden…. the mustiness blew off and it went from strength to strength in the glass as the tasting progressed, constantly improving on the palate and maintaining its wonderful Epoisses nose. It ended up as my 4th favourite of the tasting.
White
1966 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Beautiful medium-yellow gold colour. An immediately gorgeous and luxuriant nose with harmonious powerful oak and complex fruit that made you think more of a red than a white wine. Superb crisp acidity on the initial palate and wonderful, vibrant complexity of white fruits, subtle marzipan and wisps of temple smoke. Very resonant on the finish. This had the best nose and the best palate of the first 6 wines tasted and ended up as my 2nd of the 12. However, nearly everyone else thought their 1966 was shot: glasses of theirs I tried seemed to confirm there had been a mix-up (although you never know with Musar). I scored this 93 points but have left it unrecorded in the circumstances. Interestingly, the 1967 was the hands-down wine of the tasting…. so clearly, the 1966 has the potential for being still a great wine.
White
1994 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
91 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Copper-gold colour. Super, deep if somewhat low-key nose of marzipan, lanolin and mahogany furniture wax…classic middle-aged Ch. Musar Banc nose. Palate had a lot of freshness balanced by several different impressions of mahogany furniture and its associated wax polish. Still quite heavy alcohol. Very pleasant and captivating resonance. My 4th/5th out of 12, it tied with the 2003, which seemed like its adolescent and very promising stable mate.
White
2003 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
91 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages… this was revealed to be the youngest of the line-up. Lightest in colour; a lovely yellow gold brightness. The evident youth carried through on the nose: light, volatile, VA, lots of high notes of the piano scale…. young but quite mesmerizing. The palate is gorgeous and comes across like a mature Meursault similar to Coche Dury: honeyed but counterpointed by minerality, taut, lots of tension, vibrant, some drier oats element in the background. Quietly heady. Very enjoyable indeed and has a fantastic decade or three ahead of it. My 4th/5th out of 12, it tied with the 1994, which seemed like its grown-up sister.
White
1967 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
96 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Semi-dark Sauternes-like copper gold in colour. (revealed as the 2nd- oldest wine but impossible to have guessed that blind from the colour). Nose is immediately mellow, beautifully harmonied deeper scale piano notes and a super honeyed but taut element…completely alluring and mesmerizing. Gosh…I’m having a moment! Palate is immediately transporting…taut, burnt caramel and superb balancing acidity. Crushed rocks in the background stop you from thinking that you are in Sauternes territory. Oh gosh…. this is fantastic and is a clear step up from any of the other wines on the night. I’m in reveries. Totally brilliant. A view shared by almost everyone when it scored a resounding 1st among 12.
White
1986 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
88 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Light yellow gold colour…looks one of the youngest of the 12 wines. Nose is light but surprisingly complex…white fruits, white flowers and green fresh-peeled hazelnuts. So the palate comes as a considerable surprise…. too sweet, one-dimensional burnt caramel. Lacks depth. Not to my taste. I guessed that there was a difference from the normal trio of grape varieties and it turned out to be 100% Obadiah. A curiosity piece.
White
1981 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
93 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Deep caramel gold in colour. Nose is reticent and not as old as the colour suggests (?) but there is real depth and complexity lurking here…. it is a deep, dark and lurking kind of a nose that is quite intriguing. As the 10th vintage tasted, the palate demonstrated the clearest expression of the classic mahogany furniture and associated beeswax and burnt caramel elements of Ch. Musar Blanc…a nice brightness too. . Bright on the palate too. Great complexity. Heady and superb resonance. This is really very good indeed. Once revealed as the 1981 vintage, Serge mentioned that he had used only the Merwah grape in this vintage. So now I can identify that it is Merwah that give the Musar Blanc its predominant character.
White
1975 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
91 points
Tasted blind amongst 12 vintages. Deep caramel gold in colour. Nose is reticent and not as old as the colour suggests (?) but there is real depth and complexity lurking here…. it is a deep, dark and lurking kind of a nose that is quite intriguing. As the 10th vintage tasted, the palate demonstrated the clearest expression of the classic mahogany furniture and associated beeswax and burnt caramel elements of Ch. Musar Blanc…a nice brightness too. . Bright on the palate too. Great complexity. Heady and superb resonance. This is really very good indeed. Once revealed as the 1975 vintage, Serge mentioned that he had used only the Merwah grape in this vintage. So now I can identify that it is Merwah that give the Musar Blanc its predominant character.

Flight 2 - Pan Roasted King Prawn with Israeli Couscous Tabouli and Pomegranate Molasses Dressing (1 note)

Rosé
1995 Chateau Musar Rosé Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
88 points
Drank non-blind over dinner. Coppered-gold colour. Is actually a white wine with 3% Cinsault added. Earthy nose…. very alluring for a Rose wine. Palate is good initial acidic cut followed by spice bazaar reminiscent of typical Red Ch. Musar. Depth. Very good. Great with Cantonese pan-roasted King Prawns. Quite heady and unusually resonant inside the head and on the aftertaste for a Rose wine. Unfortunately, it fell quite quickly monotone after 30 minutes in the glass.

Flight 3 - Mediterranean Bouillibasse: Red Mullet, Spotted Crab, Traditional Rouille Croutons (1 note)

White
2000 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
89 points
Drank non-blind over dinner. Rich gold colour. Rich, deep nose of apricot fruit, apricot stone, wood smoke, peach stones and very lightly honeyed. Palate is rich, rounded, apricotty and lots of fruit stones; also some nice honeyed classic Condrieu-style elements. Quite fat compared to other vintages. Resonant and very rounded but clearly still young. Heady…needs food. Actually, very resonant.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 4 - Welsh Lamb Two Ways: Baked Pithiver of Braised Fore-Shank & Roasted Rack of Lamb with Cabbage Parcels, Pearl Onions and Confit Garlic Jus (1 note)

Red
1984 Chateau Musar Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
93 points
Drank non-blind over dinner. This was a real privilege because Serge has never officially released this wine. It was hit by the exigencies of the civil war in 1984 and the grapes only reached the winery in October when they had already begun fermenting on the journey…. so it’s a late-harvest red other than by Amarone standards, I guess. Only recently has he felt it was worth re-visiting and he was keen to get our opinion. Slightly dusky, translucent jeweled colour. Nose is sweet, succulent, dusky and dusty red bricks and red earth, acetone, saddle leather, Arabian spice markets…. this is really complex indeed. Palate is sharp, quite young, Barbaresco-like black cherry fruit, sharply cherried…almost candied. Still very young. Lightly resonant. Revisit in 5-10 years…. I think it could continue to develop over an eternity.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 5 - Selection of 3 Seasonal Cheeses (2 notes)

Red
1988 Chateau Musar Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
94 points
Drank non-blind over dinner. Semi-translucent ruby red colour…it still looks very young. This has the classic Ch. Musar gunpowder and cinnamon heady attack followed by damp spice-infused red dirt ….mesmerisingly complex. Palate is bright, high-toned, sharp and fresh…very “bright”, but still a baby. Gorgeous, but as young as a 1959 Mouton Rothschild or a 1982 Ch. Leoville Las Cases… needs another decade or two to reach maturity. Wow…I loved this.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
1998 Chateau Musar Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
93 points
Drank non-blind over dinner. Light, red cherry translucent colour but got darker with an hour or so in the glass. WOW…. fantastic, light, whispering, lifted red cherry nose: absolutely classic Ch. Musar dusky, musty, Eastern spice bazaar, cinnamon stick, etc. etc. Palate is absolutely beautiful: sharp but fruit-driven high notes of the piano…already very integrated and surprisingly so for its relative youth by Ch. Musar standards. This has developed beautifully since I last drank it nearly 2 years ago. Gorgeous to drink now…. but it is worth noting that we had this pre-decanted for around 8 hours.
1 person found this helpful Comments (2)

Flight 6 - Warm Apple Tart with Pistachio Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream (1 note)

White
1998 Chateau Musar Blanc Lebanon, Bekaa Valley
91 points
Drank non-blind over dinner. Rich gold colour. Rich, deep nose of apricot fruit, apricot stone, wood smoke, peach stones and very lightly honeyed. Palate is rich, rounded, apricotty and lots of fruit stones; also some nice honeyed classic Condrieu-style elements. Resonant and very rounded but clearly still young. Heady…needs food. Actually, very resonant.

Closing

In his 70s, and now into his 6th decade of making Ch. Musar, Serge often talks about the whites have become his reds as his taste buds have matured. Tonight was a perfect opportunity amongst afficianados to understand what he means..... if still to somewhat disagree when we drank the 1984 Red (never released) and the 1988 Red. What a great way to disagree!

© 2003-20 CellarTracker! LLC.

Report a Problem

Close