2008 “Reserve du Couvent”, Chateau Ksara vs. 1999 Chateau Musar – Lebanese “Bordeaux”

by Oliver Bauer on 16 February 2012 · 0 comments

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This winery processes grapes from more than 300 hectares and is therefore one of the bigger players in the Lebanon. Red wine (mainly blends) represent over 60 % of the production but their portfolio contains also white wines (dry,sweet) and Rose. The vinification and the wide range of grape varieties are French influenced. Due to the produced quantity the Reserve du Couvent is their most important red blend. And indeed it was a very solid red wine with a young, deep ruby red color which poured in our glasses. Just the nose needed some time to breathe. Then pronounced scents of soured cherry liqueur, ginger bread spices (Chinese star anise), black pepper, fresh meat and smoked bacon reached our noses. With more time the wine became even spicier and ethereal components like bay leaf together with juniper entered the stage and showed the clear dominance of Syrah in this blend. At the palate then medium bodied with a good pressure and finally also the Cabernet could play his cards and strong tannins in interaction with a surprisingly bold acidity gave structure, balance and a very good length. A very well made wine, still a bit too young though but with good potential and offering already a lot of drinking pleasure especially if it’s paired with food. Why a wine in this price segment and with this quality is closed with a cheap and dangerous (cork taint) “twin-top” stopper remains however the secret of the producer.

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Like always extended aeration was absolutely necessary to get rid of the pronounced volatile acidity and other unpleasant earthy, metal scents. Also the light, garnet to vermillion red color with its soft turbidity may shock “first offenders” ;-) ! But never mind. It has to be this way and those who are in a hurry shouldn’t open a Musar. Because after we waited a bit more than 1 hour the real bouquet exposed and typical flavors of raisins, figs and Port wine notes paired with brown (cinnamon, anise) and green (mint, eucalyptus) spices popped up. The fragrance became sweeter and more ethereal with orange zests and fresh milled white pepper. What surprised me was the complete absence of any animal scents like wet hair or horse stable. In the mouth the well balanced wine showed a good pressure with bold aromas of cherry liqueur, walnuts (Sherry), baked apples and orange juice until the long aftertaste. Medium bodied and with its stable acidity and a fine, delicate tannin structure the wine holds still potential for further aging. Concerning body and structure it has similarities with a classic BDX though in the end it was a very typical Chateau Musar. But to be able to enjoy it to the max you really have to like that very special style of this wine.

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