Lebanese Wines

So good, you’ll raise a glass (or a flag)

Posted by Daniela DaSuta on December 20, 2015

A few years ago, I popped into Twin Liquors, saluting its employees solemnly. My phone had dinged with purpose that morning, informing me about the advent of the Twin Liquors Dollar Sale, a holy time in my calendar. Everything in the store was one. Dollar. Above. Wholesale. There was no time for frivolity.

Naturally, I had a list. Stocking up on bourbon and red Burgundy was a must, but I was open. Too open. The lack of budget or limits was an issue, but it allowed me to strut about, uninhibited by cost caps or regional restrictions. And I’m pretty sure that I was slightly buzzed from brunch, so inhibitions were what you’d call “low”.

Drawn by some universal force, my feet strayed over to the “Other” section, always a favorite during my liquor store wanderings. One of the store workers, as if summoned by the Lord, peered over the shelves and winked at me. “Try the ‘05 red Musar, it’s excellent,” he said, and sauntered off, truly confident in either his suggestion or his ability to startle me.

Chateau Musar: a Lebanese wine from the Bekaa Valley. INTERESTING. It was as if I had a sticker on my forehead, identifying me as a Weird Wine Fanatic. Sold.

Chateau Musar

I bought it and brought it over to my mother’s place as a gift with strings attached (sharing was a requirement). Research identified the red blend as a medley of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, and Cinsault. I opened it with some skepticism, unsure of what to expect.

Well, bless my heart, I nearly fell over. The wine was 8 or 9 years old at the time, boasting dried, rich fruit, a distinct earthiness and leathery-ness, and baking spices. Great acid, medium (+) tannin, and still some fresh black fruit on the palate, indicating that it could lay down for a lot longer. Apparently it’s aged for a while in cement vats before being transferred to French oak. Soils in the Bekaa Valley are gravel perched upon limestone, and the winery itself is and has been family-owned for many generations. For more cool deets about the winery: www.chateaumusar.com

Having caught Musar Fever, I purchased a few more bottles of the 2005, then the 2007. The red blend is consistently fantastic; even when I tried that second vintage I was astounded...well worth the price, which hovers around $50-ish retail. They also have a youthful Viognier, Vermentino, and Chardonnay blend under their “Jeune” second label that is very fun, floral, and fruity (while the Jeune label red is comprised of the same blend as the red that I tried, it is unoaked and not impressive, but is half the price as its earthy counterpart). Still, I’m Team Lebanon.

The Twin Liquors employees near my apartment call me “Musar Lady” because I hound them about getting more in whenever they are running low. Give me a Lebanese flag, and I’ll hang it above my wine rack.

Limerick to Lebanon:

I would gladly host a rally
For all the wines from Bekaa Valley
Oh, to share the region’s red blends
With a group of colleagues, peers, or friends
They definitely trump most wines from Cali.

Be Uncommon.
Drink Uncommon.

—Daniela