Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday night - a decent Champagne and a top Chateau Musar

I'm not sure how, but Diane and I have virtually polished off the Champagne before dinner (a lovely rib steak), so the Musar 2002 that has been winking at me from the kitchen worktop for the last few days has got its comeuppance!

Piper-Heidsieck Brut Divin Blanc de Blancs NV Champagne
This clearly has some age, as it is quite a deep gold colour. A decent-ish mousse, though not particularly fine, and the nose and palate were a little harsh and unforgiving at first. But with a little air, it really did soften out and become quite delicious and moreish. Bready and biscuity on the nose, with limes and apples and some attractive slatey minerality, like a decent white Burgundy with fizz (am I allowed to say that?). Tastes like one, too - nicely aged Chardonnay flavours, some richness countered by lovely acidity and a very decent finish. A nice way to start the evening and pave the way for some proper wine.........

Chateau Musar 2002 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Darker in colour than your average Musar - half way between a young Burgundy and an aged Claret - with a deep-ish (but still semi-transluscent) core, fading gradually to a wide, slightly amber rim. The trademark VA is there, but masked by quite a lot of oak - somewhat more than usual, at this stage. Perhaps this was given more "treatment" (or more new oak) than usual. And I can see why, because this is bordering on full-bodied and rich, and built to last - clearly a very substantial vintage.

All the components are there - sweet, rich, slightly raisiny fruit, ripe, soft (but ample) tannins and acidity to die for. It isn't all about richness, though, as there are some lovely strawberry/raspberry, even lemony aromas and flavours, along with herbs, spices, leather and cedar - and oak, presently. Of course, it wouldn't be Musar without that delicious acetone and raspberry vinegar-style VA, and there is plenty of that to see it though to maturity - which may be anywhere between the next 5 and 20 years.

Is Cabernet ever more comely than this (softened by some Carignan and Cinsault)? Personally, I don't think so. This Musar is undeniably young and primary, but utterly delicious - and a very good (potentially top) vintage. Just give it a few years and it will really start to sing.

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