jamie goode's wine blog: Musar 1999 - it rocks

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Musar 1999 - it rocks

After mentioning Musar 2000 on my blog yesterday, I got some comments from people whose opinions I trust suggesting that 1999 is the vintage to go for. I've not tried this, so this afternoon, after watching England's heroic performance against the Aussies (how I regret not taking up the freebie ticket/flight/hotel option I was offered last week...but sometimes you have to put the family first) and taking elder son and friend to the golf range, I popped into Sainsbury, where I managed to find some 99 lurking behind a large quantity of 2000. (Yes, journalists sometimes do buy wine...)

It rocks. It's harmonious, complex, exotic and more-ish. If all you see in Musar is the wine 'faults', then you need to take a step back and think about wine afresh. This is world class wine, and it's only 13.99.

Chateau Musar 1999 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Complex savoury spicy nose shows so much aromatic interest, it's hard to know where to begin. There's leather, earth, a hint of balsamic vinegar, warm spices and some sweet red fruits. The palate is warm and harmonious, with a lovely sweet and savoury sort of character. It's full, earthy and spicy with a bit of bitter tang like a stinky cheese. In fact, I reckon people who don't get Musar are a bit like people who will only eat plastic-packed cheddar and find goats cheese offensive. Anyway, this is soft, warm, mellow and complex. A really good vintage of this wine in the mould of the 1993 or 1991. This has a 20-30 year drinking window, because it's lovely now but will continues to develop for ages. 93/100



At 10:11 PM, Blogger Salil said...

Nice - I'll definitely see if I can come across a bottle here, as I'm really starting to get into reds with that sort of funky/earthy/savoury character.

As for the rugby - I'm gutted. Australia and New Zealand losing in the same day, and after dominating the first half in each game... ah well, back to the cricket.

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Laurence said...

Yes - entirely agree. Have followed Musar for a number of years (88 and 95 are also favourites). Had some friends round and we had 97, 98 and 99. 99 was stand out. 98 was so different thought the bottle was faulty and opened two more, but they were all the same. The other 15 98s are sitting languishing, but have only 6 of the 18 99s I bought last year! Need to find some more and quick!

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Are Sainsburys still doing the 25% off? If so, an unmissable opportunity.

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Sorry for wibbling on your blog, but what about that young fellow Elano???

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

I opened a bottle of this tonight with a roast dinner, inspired by your post.

I really enjoyed it and it seemed to get sweeter in the glass as time went on.

But what really struck me was the similarities with Pinotage......

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

That's fascinating, Peter!

What are the similarities? Musar is generally best known for Brett-related things and volatile acidity. My slight beef with Pinotage is that is often has a slightly metallic/bitter edge to it (which I've certainly never come across with Musar). I guess they do share the role of whipping-boys among the supposed wine-cognoscent, I suppose.

Anyway, thanks for bringing it up - I must open a bottle of that Grangehurst 2000 stuff.

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Robert said...

Never tried it? Whassis then? http://www.wineanorak.com/blog/2007/01/musar-99.html


At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Laurence said...

NB - Jamie, how was the Ravenswood Lodi lurking in the background behind the Musar?

At 9:15 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Not sure I see the comparison with Pinotage, Peter. I like Musar.

Alex, no sign of the 25% off in store. Elano is as good as I said he was.

Robert, that's so funny! My memory must be going.

Laurence, agree - 95 was brilliant, in a very ripe style. And the Lodi? I'll blog about that later.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Doug said...

Musar is sui generis, but I can think of a couple of reasons why one might associate it with certain Pinotages. For starters, you have the prominent VA (like brett I don't think this is a problem in moderation) and the resultant acetone, almost nail varnish notes are also typical of Pinotage. Secondly, Musar contains a good proportion of the Cinsault grape, whilst Pinotage is a cross of Cinsault and Pinot Noir. Cinsault's aromatic flavour profile tends towards sweet fruits: candied or confit cherries, raspberry pastilles. Given its favoured location in eastern Languedoc (Domaine d'Aupilhac make a great 100% Cinsault as does Domaine Terrasses d'Elise), Rhone and Provence the wines always seem to pick up the garrigue notes of the local terroir. The difficult point of comparison is the winemaking regime: Musar is fermented in cement, and though it spends a period in Nevers oak, it rests for a further 3-4 years in vat before release. I find Musar more reminiscent of traditional Chateauneuf-du-Pape - or even Barolo, for although these wines are aged in foudres and botti respectively, they emerge similarly tawny in colour and with the selfsame earthy/leathery secondary aromas that one finds with Musar.

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

That's interesting Doug.

I know many people have said that Musar sometimes reminds them of Rhone (1999 being a good example), sometimes of Burgundy (esp 1969) and sometimes Claret (I'd put 1988 in that category).

I've thought that there have sometimes been similarities with Sangiovese (the young 1998).

Thus it comes as no surprise to hear of more "tastes like Xxxxx". But watch out for characteristics changing as the wine ages - it seems to evolve in a highly erratic manner (more so than any other wine, I would say).

BTW - Anyone visting Calais should look out for the 1995 vintage that the Sainsburys there has - 10.99 - although for some strange reason they only charged 9.50/bottle (possibly because it was 25% off time in the UK?) and I couldn't help buy buy 7 cases of the stuff.

At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Daron Fincham said...

How long's this been goin' on then?

Now I know I can post on your site stand by for some abuse ...

PS - I agree the 99 is good.


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