Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley Lebanon
Chateau Musar is quite possibly the only winery in Asia that is a household name. Its calling card is how extraordinarily well the wines from this winery can age and as equally impressive is how the winery managed to turn out wines of quality during 15 years of civil war in Lebanon, which finally ended in 1992.
The vineyards are located in the Bekaa Valley, which is actually more of a plateau than a valley, but its elevated position, reaching 1,000 metres in some places means that the heat is not nearly as oppressive as you would initially imagine.
The winery was founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar, whose ancestors had arrived from France in the 12th century, and is now run by his grandsons. However, it was Gaston's son Serge who brought the winery fame and championed the wines of Lebanon through the turbulent times of the 1970s through to his passing in 2014.
Chateau Musar is mostly know for its red wine which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan. The wine has an uncanny ability to age for decades and I can attest to this having recently tasted 1967 and 1978, both of which were massively impressive. Almost as extraordinary as this wine, however, is their white. It took me a long time to understand this wine, as it clearly not a simple white to serve cool from the fridge. No, this is a highly concentrated wine that the Hochars prefer to serve after the red, and at room temperature, and always drink the oldest vintage available.
Musar produces a number of other wines, but the one other that stands out for me is the Hochar Pere et Fils, which is not strictly a second wine of Musar, but more of an early drinking version, with less of a tannic impact. The grape blend differs sightly with Grenache replacing the Cabernet component of its bigger brother.