2001 Chateau Musar, Bekka Valley, Lebanon (750 ml)

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French in origin, the Hochar family arrived in Lebanon in the 12th century and settled in the Bekka Valley, about 30 kilometers south east of modern day Beirut. Gaston Hochar planted vineyards in 1930 and established a winemaking legend that his son Serge expanded upon; bringing Chateau Musar much deserved international notoriety. Sadly, Serge passed away last year and now his sons are at the helm, continuing the proud legacy started by their grandfather. The Bekka Valley is further south than any part of Spain or Italy but the Musar vineyards are situated at about 1,000 feet above sea level and at that altitude enjoy cool nights (and often snow in the winter months) to cool down the vines after the hot days. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan make up the red grapes planted in the vineyards which are organically certified. They are vinified separately and blended together and bottled three years after harvest and aged an additional four years before release. The finished wine is a uniquely beautiful thing, a Bordeaux style blend that expresses its terroir with character and finesse. It is remarkable how this 2008 feels astonishingly fresh and vibrant (thanks in part to the excellent acidity) and yet also offers subtle characteristics of an aged wine with a nice essence of earthy, savory flavors. And that's pretty much the Kochars objective in making this truly special wine. They present it in its relative youth at about 8 years old to reveal its pleasant drinkability now and also show its complexity and infinite potential for aging. This is a wine every wine enthusiast, regardless of budget or expertise should experience.

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