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Bartholomew Broadbent

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THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Bartholomew Broadbent » Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:32 pm

Legendary Lebansese Winery Determined to Survive War — Again

BEIRUT, LEBANON, August 3rd — Serge Hochar, the proprietor of Lebanon's Chateau Musar winery, released the following statement today regarding the immediate and long-term future of Chateau Musar in light of the continuing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"This is the path our history has taken for 7,000 years. However, prophecies also say that Lebanon will overcome all adverse situations. What is happening now is very sad, but we have no choice other than to face adversity.

This is what we have always done at Chateau Musar, ever since we embarked upon making this wine known world-wide for its truth, identity and for its reflection of our culture. Our history, our philosophy and our winemaking experience can only grow and develop from what is happening around us. This is the reason we established a Chateau Musar office in the U.K. in 1979 to take care of our world market, which has proven especially important in situations like this. This plan has proved its efficiency during all the years of war that we have faced since then, and it is still true today. We are in a position to supply the world through our U.K. company, and this is the message we want to relay to the market and to all the friends and consumers of Chateau Musar.

Regarding the future, it is very difficult to have a clear vision of the way things will develop and the time it will take. We are taking all the necessary steps for this year's harvest, however, which is due to start at the end of August. We hope to have a normal harvest regarding maturity times, although picking might be a little bit delayed because of weather conditions. So far the vineyards are doing well and we expect a very good crop for the 2006 vintage."


Created in 1930 in the cellar of an old XVIIIth century castle, Château Musar is as much the work of a family as the living testimony of all the civilizations that tread its soil. After a long stay in France, Gaston Hochar returned to Lebanon and created Château Musar in the cellars of the old 'Mzar' castle in Ghazir, overlooking the Mediterranean sea. What began as a hobby soon became a passion; a passion inspired by an initial encounter with renowned viticulturist Ronald Barton while stationed in Lebanon during the Second World War.

The family's love for wine grew and in 1959, after completing his oenology diploma in Bordeaux, the eldest son, Serge, entered the business. Some call him the magician, the man behind this extraordinary wine. His response? That all he seeks is to translate what nature intended. Serge's younger brother Ronald, named after the late Barton, took over Château Musar's marketing and finance departments in 1962.

Château Musar first achieved international recognition during the Bristol Wine Fair in England in 1979, where the wine press and prominent critics including Michael Broadbent declared it "the discovery of the fair". In 1984, the respected wine magazine Decanter named Serge Hochar the first ever "Wine Man of the Year" for his extraordinary achievements, determination and dedication to producing wines during the difficult years of the Lebanese Civil War.

In recent years, Musar has been part of events such as the "Dîner des 30" organized by Champagne Louis Roederer in honour of the 30 best wines of the world. Musar annually attends the London Wine Fair and Vinexpo every two years. Present at frequent auctions of private collections, its name has been linked to Sotheby's in 1979 and Christies in 2000 and 2004. The way paved by the wine from the land of "milk and honey" consequently allowed Lebanon to adhere to the OIV - the "Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin"- in 1995 with the collaboration of other Lebanese wine producers.

Disclaimer: I am the US importer of this wine but felt the topic was of sufficient general interest to post.
Bartholomew Broadbent
http://www.broadbent.com
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Ed Draves

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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Ed Draves » Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:58 pm

Thanks for sharing that with the community here
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Mike Filigenzi » Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:57 pm

Thanks much for that. I had been wondering about Musar, given the current violence in the area. Not that it's anything new for them, but it's nice to get word from them nonetheless.



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Bob Henrick

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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Bob Henrick » Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:37 pm

Hi Bart, and thanks for the post regarding Musar. This of course is typical of Musar, to persevere. I am especially happy to know that you look in here on the WLDG, and hope that you won't be so quiet from now on. Also it is a place that Peter Spann would like to post as well. we sure do not look down upon ITB'ers posting so long as they are known as ITB. Now, about that 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 cases of Ch. Tahbilk marsanne that you hopefully are getting for me. Of course with this summer's heat I can wait for cooler weather! :-)
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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Jenise » Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:40 pm

Mr. Broadbent,

Thank you SO much for this news--we have all been so worried about the Hochars. It's a relief to hear that they're allright, and amazing even to hear they can still hope to harvest normally. But the grapes aren't important, it's the people, their home and their livelihood that is. Send them our best, please.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Thomas

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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Thomas » Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:44 pm

It's intereseting, Bart, and sad too. Serge is right when he says "this is what has been happening for 7,000 years."

After the Phoenicians became so successful as wine traders in Lebanon, from Tyre and Biblos, they were forced out by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC. The last time I talked with Serge (at a Lauber tasting in NYC) he and I briefly talked about the sad, sad history of the region. Sometimes, I swear I can taste it in his wines--a mix of brooding hope.
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Mike Conner

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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Mike Conner » Sat Aug 05, 2006 1:01 am

Bart,

Thanks for the welcome news.

Having the honor of attending a tasting led by Serge in Knoxville in May of 2001, the events in Lebanon have been on my mind.

Take care,

Mike


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Otto

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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Otto » Sat Aug 05, 2006 8:38 am

Thank you Bartholomew for the report. Do you have any updates how all at Musar are doing now? Yesterday morning Israel bombed Ghazír - despite it being a Christian village, it apparently wasn't safe.

-O-
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Robin Garr » Sat Aug 05, 2006 10:25 am

Bart, let me belatedly thank you for posting this, and offer you a warm welcome to WLDG. Please keep us posted on any developments.
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Manuel Camblor

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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Manuel Camblor » Sat Aug 05, 2006 10:52 am

Heartening news. Many thanks for them, Mr. Broadbent. Just a few nights ago I had some friends over and we got to talking about the future of Château Musar, given the horror of the current situation. The conversation led to my pulling the 1970 Musar from the cellar. We drank to the health and safety of the Hochar family and the continuation of this enterprise of theirs, which has brought so many of us such great joy.

Oh, and welcome to WLDG. It's a pleasure to see you here.
Best,

LL
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Tim York

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Re: THE FATES OF LEBANON AND CHATEAU MUSAR

by Tim York » Sat Aug 05, 2006 3:17 pm

There is a report in today's print edition of Financial Times of an anonymous Bekaa valley vintner. His biggest immediate problem will be gathering in the imminent 2006 vintage; all the vineyard labour force, mainly Syrian, has disappeared and the seasonal harvest workers are unlikely to materialise. There has also been "collateral damage" to winery installations.

On the reverse side of the coin, there has been a surge in sympathy purchases of Lebanese wine in Europe. I am not sure, however, that this will help the Lebanese winegrowers who cannot re-supply.
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