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WTN: Chateau Musar 1997

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WTN: Chateau Musar 1997

by DebA » Sun Oct 22, 2006 4:07 pm

I was very excited to try this particular wine as Otto had mentioned that it was a fine example from Chateau Musar. I had never sampled any wines from Lebanon before this and it was a treat indeed! For the first time, I felt as though I experienced a slight sense of "terroir" through this wine. I don't claim knowledge of the soil or climate in the Bekaa Valley; there was simply "something" present in this wine that was previously unknown to me and it seemed to be "a sense of place." :cool:

Chateau Musar 1997 - 13.5% alc.

Day 1 - Served at room temp (i.e.;70 degrees) opening and pouring an hour before dinner. I drank one glass within 30 min. of opening and prior to dinner with only a slice of French bread, then another glass during the meal 30 min. later. Menu consisted of filet mignon, button mushrooms sauteed in a peppery EVOO from Sicily with fresh rosemary and a salad of baby lettuces with tomatoes, red onion, and walnuts with a light raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.

This red wine's color is a clear, deep garnet, not ruby, and it graduates to a redwood, rust edge. It has a subtle nose of currants and strawberry memories, is dry and crisp with a distinct minerality and a very quick evolution that seized my mid-palate assertively. I would classify this Musar as a *light-bodied wine with a smooth mouth feel that registered gently but decisively as it caressed the length of my tongue. IMO, it was an excellent complement to the meal and concluded with a very pleasant finish that left me wanting more. I complied ;)

Day 2 - Served at room temp again, but this time with a simple appetizer of bruschetta which I prepared with a garlic rub, then topped with a mixture of finely diced plum tomatoes, fresh basil, sea salt and pepper. The second day I found the light berry flavors that I noted on day one to be more pronounced, which surprised me. It was as though this Musar didn't want to disappoint me and revealed its depths more openly, though I didn't recognize it as "secretive" when I drank it on day one. I wouldn't refer to this wine as sensually complex in the same way G-B's Apostoles Palo Cortado Sherry is, but rather as a more delicate, yet tenacious beauty that is defined by its place in the world. This would, no doubt, sound silly in the standard, prosaic TN, but as I drank through the various stages of decanting, I sensed a "longing" in this wine, as though it "wanted" to express itself more fully but felt constrained by its physicality. I will understand completely if that makes absolutely no sense to anyone else, but it was both a joy and a mystery to experience a little bit of Lebanon through her. Yes, this wine is a "she."

Day 3 - Alas, this bottle of wine was finished last night, so I have no additional reflections to share. I do know that, like "my" Apostoles sherry, I consider this wine a gift to my soul not just my palate. Musar does indeed rock, Otto. Thank you for sharing your passion. ~ Deborah


*I will note here that Otto disagrees with me on this descriptor and believes this particular vintage to be quite robust. Perhaps it was my menu that "softened" the effects of this Musar, but I truly did not think of it as a full-bodied wine in the sense of weight or alcohol content; it rather struck my palate as light and fresh, and immensely drinkable. The alcohol content of 13.5% also did not seem to overpower this vintage as many other wines that I've had in recent memory. It was a wine that definitely stayed with you, so in that sense, Otto is correct. If there be any error in judgement concerning this characteristic, no doubt it is mine.
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Re: WTN: Chateau Musar 1997!!???

by Anders Källberg » Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:14 pm

Hey Deborah, this is not the note on the seductive properties of Pinot Noir we(I) have been wating for! Keeping us on the grill (as we say in Swedish)?
Cheers, Anders
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Debbie does Musar!

by Jenise » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:01 pm

Deborah, regarding your differences with Otto, can I speak as an objective third party? Otto compares this Musar with other Musars which are a lighter style of big red wine; you compare this red wine with all other red wines. You are used to drinking, I believe, younger and fruit-forward style red wines. Therefore, you're both right, it's just that each of you come from very opposing perspectives.

That aside, I can say this: now you know why so many of us have hundreds of bottles laying around. Because we want our wines to talk to our souls and generally only aging brings that capacity to light. Ever try to talk to a baby? Goo goo....
Last edited by Jenise on Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTN: Chateau Musar 1997!!???

by DebA » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:12 pm

Anders Källberg wrote:Hey Deborah, this is not the note on the seductive properties of Pinot Noir we(I) have been wating for! Keeping us on the grill (as we say in Swedish)?
Cheers, Anders

________________________

I like that Swedish expression, Anders. Does this mean that I can speak Swedish now? LOL! I have not yet opened the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir, BUT I am looking forward to doing so very soon and will dedicate my TN to you! (The Musar TN honor simply had to go to Otto :) ) There's only so much wine this gal can consume in a week! ;)
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Re: Debbie does Musar!

by DebA » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:32 pm

Jenise wrote:Deborah, regarding your differences with Otto, can I speak as an objective third party? Otto compares this Musar with other Musars which are a lighter style of big red wine; you compare this red wine with all other red wines. You are used to drinking, I believe, younger and fruit-forward style red wines. You are used to drinking, I believe, younger and fruit-forward style red wines. Therefore, you're both right, it's just that each of you come from very opposing perspectives.

That aside, I can say this: now you know why so many of us have hundreds of bottles laying around. Because we want our wines to talk to our souls and generally only aging brings that capacity to light. Ever try to talk to a baby? Goo goo....

________________________

Thank you for your input, Jenise, I appreciate it and it is always welcome. What you shared made perfect sense given Otto's Musar sensibilities; they are finely honed, whereas mine are definitely not. You are correct in your assumption about my generalized wine choices and I can see how that would affect my perspective. It is so much fun to see how my expectations from wine are maturing and expanding though! For example, when RG recently posted the info on the "sweet red" Camauro Cagnina Di Romagna, I thought I would enjoy it and ordered two bottles. You would not believe my surprise when I tasted it!! I might have thought that this type of wine was enjoyable in years past but not today! I most definitely do not want to sound like a wine "snob," I am simply putting this as straight forward as I know how. This wine immediately struck me as "adult Kool-Aid" with literally no substance, complexity or finish, much less an elegant one. There was no refinement or depth at all to my senses; I did not even finish the bottle. The other one that I ordered will probably make a decent mulled wine concoction when spices are added. I must confess to loving the label though and have saved it as a metaphor, if you will; e.g. "A passionate embrace may not be all it appears to be!" LOL! :cool:
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Re: Debbie does Musar!

by Jenise » Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:13 pm

Deborah, you're in an exciting phase of wine appreciation and it's fun to watch (and relive) those early days. We understand completely about your reaction to that sweet red wine. Now just wait and see how this Musar has ruined you: you might find wines you liked just a month ago tasting "soulless".

True story: once was in Europe taking care of a friend who was going in for surgery to repair botched surgeries following an almost fatal motorcycle accident. He caught cold, so they delayed the surgery and ordered him to go to a warmer climate for a week. Spain was warmer so off we went. Up until then, I'd been okay drinking the Lindemans Bin-something Shiraz that was my friend's house red. Didn't love it, but I could drink it. Young, fruity shirazes were commonplace enough in my life at that time. But after a week of drinking nothing but dry Spanish red wines--they were bright and complex and always finished dry--I could not stomach the wines that had been acceptable just a week before. Could. Not. Drink. A. Drop. Neither could I stomach the zinfandels I'd brought over, good ones. They were all too sweet, too thick. The change was permanent and I've never been able to go back, and that's not wine snobbery any more than your realizing your own palate has changed. It's just what happens.

A friend of mine once described her love of Bordeaux by saying "It's not about the fruit. It's about everything else." Well, welcome to Everything Else.
Last edited by Jenise on Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Debbie does Musar!

by Doug Surplus » Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:40 pm

"It's not about the fruit. It's about everything else."

So true, Jenise. The Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon I opened last night certainly fell into this category of wine. Sure, there was fruit, but it wasn't the primary element; it was that 'everything else'. That 'everything else' was so balanced and so good that even my daughter, who is very new to wine (and prefers off-dry Riesling), was ready to fight me for the rest of the bottle! I doubt she could describe what she tasted, but she knew it was good.
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Re: Debbie does Musar!

by DebA » Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:42 pm

Jenise wrote:...Up until then, I'd been okay drinking the Lindemans Bin-something Shiraz that was my friend's house red. Didn't love it, but I could drink it. Young, fruity shirazes were commonplace enough in my life at that time. But after a week of drinking nothing but dry Spanish red wines--they were bright and complex and always finished dry--I could not stomach the wines that had been acceptable just a week before. Could. Not. Drink. A. Drop. Neither could I stomach the zinfandels I'd brought over, good ones. They were all too sweet, too thick. The change was permanent and I've never been able to go back, and that's not wine snobbery any more than your realizing your own palate has changed. It's just what happens.


Ahh, the Lindemans Bin! I have subjected my palate to their "offerings" as well; that struck a definite chord! You write the way I have been feeling, Jenise; I'm definitely on the cusp of an evolution.

Jenise wrote:...A friend of mine once described her love of Bordeaux by saying "It's not about the fruit. It's about everything else." Well, welcome to Everything Else.


I would not have understood your friend's statement until quite recently, but believe I do now. More than that, I comprehend why she is so right! :cool:
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Re: Debbie does Musar!

by James Dietz » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:21 pm

Jenise.. you are waxing very poetically today... and expressing what is beautiful about enjoying wine. It is like art or great literature, in many way, in how one can appreciate it intellectually.
Cheers, Jim
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Re: WTN: Chateau Musar 1997

by Otto » Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:04 pm

Deborah Ackerman wrote:*I will note here that Otto disagrees with me on this descriptor and believes this particular vintage to be quite robust. Perhaps it was my menu that "softened" the effects of this Musar, but I truly did not think of it as a full-bodied wine in the sense of weight or alcohol content; it rather struck my palate as light and fresh, and immensely drinkable. The alcohol content of 13.5% also did not seem to overpower this vintage as many other wines that I've had in recent memory. It was a wine that definitely stayed with you, so in that sense, Otto is correct. If there be any error in judgement concerning this characteristic, no doubt it is mine.


Fresh I'll buy, but not light-bodied! ;) But as Jenise said, this is probably just based on our personal reference points. I think this, like the '94, is very much a hot-vintage Musar with all its fruit and warmth. It is a great wine in that style, but frankly like in almost all wines, I tend to prefer the cooler vintages as to my taste they are better balanced. If you like this, you like the Musar style. Now try the '99 or '95 or '91 or '88! This was a good vintage, but those four are divine! :) Thanks for the note. I hope you write more notes!

-O-

p.s. What's with that error in judgement thing? You've got your palate, I've got mine. There's no right and wrong.
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Re: WTN: Chateau Musar 1997

by DebA » Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:39 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:
Deborah Ackerman wrote:*I will note here that Otto disagrees with me on this descriptor and believes this particular vintage to be quite robust. Perhaps it was my menu that "softened" the effects of this Musar, but I truly did not think of it as a full-bodied wine in the sense of weight or alcohol content; it rather struck my palate as light and fresh, and immensely drinkable. The alcohol content of 13.5% also did not seem to overpower this vintage as many other wines that I've had in recent memory. It was a wine that definitely stayed with you, so in that sense, Otto is correct. If there be any error in judgement concerning this characteristic, no doubt it is mine.


Fresh I'll buy, but not light-bodied! ;) But as Jenise said, this is probably just based on our personal reference points. I think this, like the '94, is very much a hot-vintage Musar with all its fruit and warmth. It is a great wine in that style, but frankly like in almost all wines, I tend to prefer the cooler vintages as to my taste they are better balanced. If you like this, you like the Musar style. Now try the '99 or '95 or '91 or '88! This was a good vintage, but those four are divine! :) Thanks for the note. I hope you write more notes!

-O-

p.s. What's with that error in judgement thing? You've got your palate, I've got mine. There's no right and wrong.

_______________________________

Thank you for the comments, Otto, I always appreciate your insights and you have always been the most gracious encourager. Let's split the difference and call this '97 "medium-bodied"...lol. All I know for sure is that I liked it, but I think I managed to convey that much. :) I would dearly LOVE to try the other vintages you suggest but the '97 was the only one I could locate through wine-searcher. I promise to keep looking though; "divine wine researcher" sounds like a most noble avocation! ;)

P.S. - I think just about everyone on the boards must know by now that you are the passionate "Musar Master" and I am the passionate neophyte, Otto, therefore you must surely have a better sense of their wines (as well as a large percentage of other wines on the planet :) ) than I. Yes, I've got my palate and you have yours, but mine still needs education so I would not presume to know more than you in this matter. Now, if you want to tackle corporate finances, I may leave you in the dust, dear... ;)
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Re: WTN: Chateau Musar 1997

by James Roscoe » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:09 pm

Deborah, these are great notes. you need to find a job with the local paper. You have a real gift.
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Re: WTN: Chateau Musar 1997

by DebA » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:23 pm

James, thank you for your very kind remarks. The encouragement I've received from so many on the boards has been lovely; a truly welcoming arena for sharing and learning. :cool:
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Re: WTN: Chateau Musar 1997

by Ian Sutton » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:16 pm

Deborah
Really good tasting notes, thanks for them... and I think there's even a little bit of Otto's style in the tasting notes as well which is no bad thing!
regards
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Re: WTN: Chateau Musar 1997

by DebA » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:13 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:Deborah
Really good tasting notes, thanks for them... and I think there's even a little bit of Otto's style in the tasting notes as well which is no bad thing!
regards
Ian


Thank you for taking the time to critique my notes, Ian, it really helps me to understand how clearly I have conveyed my thoughts, perceptions and mostly, the essence of the wine. Your comments made me feel great! I must confess to having asked Otto on several occasions about my writing style as it tends to stray from "the norm." I've reflected on whether that is a good thing or not. Otto, and others, have continually been supportive of my heart-felt poetical infusion style though, so I guess all is well. Then you add icing to the cake and compare my TN style slightly to Otto's...well, won't he be surprised! I have tried to convince him that he has the heart of a poet too! :cool:

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