Musar is one of those wineries I have respected for years but never written about. It is one of those wineries that has been well known by wine geeks for a very long time and so I repeatedly overlook drawing attention to them. The sin of the consistently awesome I guess.
After tasting the wines and talking with a winery rep at the recent Top Drop trade tasting, this article felt compelled. These really are miraculous wines. Planted in what is almost certainly the most geopolitically complicated wine region in the world, Musar’s vineyards have recently hosted the sad, heavy stream of Syrian refugees fleeing the nightmare of that country. And let’s not forget the lengthy Lebanese civil war in the 70’s and 80’s. In these circumstances wine is irrelevant. And yet their persistence in the region is also affirmatory. And I like to remember this remarkable history when exercising the extreme privilege of tasting the wines.
Lebanon is close to the origin of the Vitis Vinifera grapes in what is now modern day Iran. Their white is made from indigenous grapes (Obaideh and Merwah, thought to be related to, but distinct from, Chardonnay and Semillon) that are so adapted to the environment that Musar literally does nothing to them. And I mean nothing, not the ‘minimal intervention’ patina used by most wineries. Musar does no canopy management, no pest control, no irrigation. The vines are own-rooted on two types of soil: chalk and calcereous gravel. They do not even bother harvesting at night, but just pick the grapes when they are ripe, often during the heady heat of the Lebanese day.
The wine is stunningly good. It is mildly oxidative, driven by texture but also much fresher than you expect. Musar releases its top wines when they feel their drinking window begins. Hence the 2007 is the current release, but can age much longer. The winery was established in 1930 so there are old vintages out there, and they are reportedly remarkable wines.
Excellent to Excellent+
Musar is imported by Seacove Premium Wine & Spirits, though I am not sure if/when the white will be imported