Wine Spectator

Musar Musings

Musar Musings

Post by Chuck Hayward | October 20th, 2010

One of the most incredible stories in today’s wine world is that of Lebanon’s Chateau Musar. With vineyards first planted in the Bekaa Valley in 1930, Serge Hochar and his family have made wine continuously through times of both peace and strife in his war-torn home. Any winemaker will tell you that harvest is a stressful, difficult labor of love under ideal circumstances. But with the added complication of bullets, mortars, and armed checkpoints, Serge has passionately persisted with an unparalleled dedication to his craft. Only twice in his decades-long career was he unable to complete harvest. In 1984, Decanter Magazine made Serge its first “Man of the Year” for his single-minded devotion to winemaking through such incredible conditions.

Serge Hochar of Chateau Musar with Boo Mahmoud of Broadbent Importers

A recent invitation to a Chateau Musar tasting prompted me to clear my schedule—when you get the opportunity to meet with Serge personally, you go. Tasting with him is less a presentation centered on tastes and aromas, soil types or vineyard aspects related to his wines, than it is a discussion of deeper subjects—philosophy, life and wine’s inextricable role in those areas. As he said, “I am not as interested in talking about the world of wine as I am about wine’s place in the world.” Questions from our group served as launching points for Serge to talk about a variety of topics ranging from history to art and back to wine, sprinkled throughout with glimpses of his impish humor. Tasting with Serge is a graduate-school experience and at times I felt transported back to my days at LSU, albeit with much better refreshments. (more…)

Burgundy Brigade

Burgundy Brigade

Post by Chuck Hayward | October 11th, 2010

Getting wind of a Burgundy tasting sends most of us in the wine trade into a vinous tizzy. And so it was last week that we jumped across the bay to

Some '06 Burgs, ready to taste

RN74, San Francisco’s shrine to Burgundy and location for a tasting of assorted releases from the Vineyard Brands portfolio. Founded in 1971 by Robert Haas, a former New York City retailer, Vineyard Brands quickly became one of the country’s top importers of quality Burgundy and we looked forward to exploring their collection of estates.

Rather than the new releases we were expecting, we were fortunate that Vineyard Brands had decided to give us another look at reds and whites from 2006. Four years after vintage, it was an ideal time to assess the development of these wines and get a feel for where they are headed. Upon release, Stephen Tanzer observed that the ’06 whites were “rich, powerful wines, often high in alcohol. Their glycerol textures and often exotic tropical fruit character give them great early sex appeal.” At the same time, Bruce Sanderson noted in the Wine Spectator  that “the young Pinots also amazed me, with their immediate charm, seduction and balance.” (more…)