Experience Wine

All to often we get caught up in the technical aspects of wine. You know the real wine geek stuff, types of soil, clones, flavor profile, but we forget the human aspect of wine. I was reminded of this Monday afternoon when I had the opportunity to listen to Serge Hochar tell a group of wine professionals about his famed Chateau Musar wines from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Well in actuality, Serge does not say much about the actual wines, Serge talks about life. “Wine is alive” he said, you experience it and tell me about the wines. These wines are unlike any wines I have experienced in my life. “I wanted to show them a wine that was beyond what they could understand, a wine that was the product of millennia and not the product of war” said Serge.

Imagine, a wine grown and made in the cradle of society and agriculture.

Think about the history of winemaking in the Bekaa Valley. In the Book of Genesis it say’s, after the flood, “Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank the wine”. Noah is reportedly buried in Zahle, one of the towns in the Bekaa Valley. The wines of Lebanon were so good in fact, that they were exported to Egypt during the Old Kingdom period (2686 BC-2134 BC). The best-preserved temple in the Roman era ruins of Baalbek, was dedicated to Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine.  With an incredible history of fine winemaking in the Bakaa Valley, there is no wonder why these wines were so incredible to experience.

The ancient history of agriculture and winemaking in the fertile Lebanese Valley in the shadows of Mount Lebanon makes it easy to picture creating a winery there. So in 1930 after a long stay in France, Serge’s father, Gaston created Chateau Musar in the cellars of the old “Mzar” Castle in Ghazir, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. After his oenology degree in Bordeaux, Serge took over the winemaking in 1959 immediately putting his own unique stamp on the wines making Musar into what it is today. Year after year, in a nation that has been rife with conflict and civil war Serge has create artisan wines that have been compared to top Bordeaux and Burgundy wines. The wineries associated with Château Musar are located at a height of over 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) inside Bekaa where the vines are sheltered by the encompassing mountaintops running parallel to the Mediterranean and beyond coastline.

The Red wines are made from a mixture of various grapes, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and also Carignan. The vines are cultivated in gravely earth with a limestone foundation. The White wines are created from a mix of Obeideh and Merwah that are indigenous to the Bekaa Valley. Based of legend, these grapes were taken back to Europe with the Crusaders and became the forefathers of Chardonnay and Semillon.

Chateau Musar has had a cult like following since the 1979 Bristol Wine Fair, where Michael Broadbent described the wines as “Discovery of the Fair”. So how does one describe Musar’s wines, Unique and Individual. “No two bottles can be a like, the wine is alive” Serge said at the TexSom Conference in Dallas earlier this week. The wines are of superb quality, but made is a style all their own. They seem to almost age in reverse, with a 1969 Musar Blanc showing as much fruit and acidity as a 1990. These are wines to be experiences, not just tasted.

So what do these wines taste like? I think it is best for you to taste them and tell me.


TexSom 2011 – Slideshow


A smattering of images from the epic weekend. Craig Collins, MS, reported, as Rajat Parr was leaving to catch a jet to another fabulous place, he told him that “TexSom 2011 was the best wine conference” he’d ever been to. Great work guys!

Slideshow here: TexSom Slideshow

Berlusca Bunga approves!

And now a word from Italy…

“Wine Bloggers Unite and Texsom, I AM HERE.”  [ undisclosed location]

“And I approved this message and these blogs and conferences. Good work, ragazzi” – Silvio Berlusconi

Video Recap of Sunday’s Sessions

Love every second of yesterday’s sessions? Want to relive the glory of tasting Burgundy with Rajat Parr? All that and more is here in this video recap.

Video from @roydot and the Barbed Rose Steakhouse in Alvin.

Wow, What a Tasting Opportunity at Texsom 2011 y Mas: Just when I thought day one was ending…

Wow, What a Tasting Opportunity Day 1 at Texsom 2011 y Mas: Just when I thought day one was ending…

Day 1: It was an amazing day…

  • Forty-seven wines
  • Doug Frost MS, MW, WineDogBoy rocks!
  • Vega Sicilia “Valbuena”, Ribera del Duero (mineral, earth, black fruit – simply over the top)
  • Simply Grosses Gewachs (if you can find them in the USA)
  • Pinotage (love it, hate it – twice as many as I have tasted all year)
  • Thelema “The Mint” – It’s all there…even the Eualyptus
  • Gruner, Albarino, Torrontes, Roussanne – continent hopping for new white classics
  • Grenache – what it does (and doesn’t), why we blend it, styles all over the map
  • Just when I thought that I palate was raw, Red Wines of Burgundy (Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Orveaux”)

Just as we were finishing the final session, I spotted a tweet @CalaisWinery (Dallas – Deep Ellum) saying that Ben Calais was pressing his Texas High Plains, Newsom Vineyard 2011 Tempranillo. Did I have the energy to witness it? Yep, I trucked down there to watch the thick, purple fluid squirt through clear flexible tubes into oak barrels. It was a difficult year in Texas due to the heat, but the Tempranillo grapes came in with remarkable good numbers. They were simply concentrated and so was the fermented wine that awaited its marriage with oak.

By 8:00 pm, I was ready for a margarita! Cheers until tomorrow early AM.

Media & Technology Symposium day at TEXSOM

I had a great time attending the seminars for the Media & Technology Symposium. Here is my post about the day’s events. See you next year!

Texsom Starts here!

Beverage Directo Paige Barrick and I from the Barbed Rose Steakhouse are excited about the start of TEXSOM Doug Frost Master Sommeliers, kicks it off with the wines of South Africa. Ready to learn!