Château Musar Gaston Hochar Review
We’ll go straight out and say it, this might be one of the best wines we’ve ever tasted. Hooked now?
Château Musar is a world renowned winery located in Ghazir, Lebanon, just 25km from the capital of Beirut. We’ve never been lucky enough, but if you’re ever in the area then this is an absolute must visit. If you happen to have a spare seat on your flight there, then by all means slide it our way!
Founded in the 1930s, Gaston Hochar spent time in the Bordeaux region, where he refined his wine making abilities, and often leads to comparisons with the Château Musar wines being compared to Bordeaux or Burgundy wines – and we can definitely see why.
While the wine is made from a variety of grapes each year (Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault forming the main grapes, with Carignan and Granache filling the remnant), this wine is far more than a simple blend. However, this does mean that there is both significant bottle variation and strong ageing potential – although the price tag might make this hard to stomach, we’d recommend buying a crate if you’re able to and enjoying them over time.
The tasting notes
Straight out of the bottle, the wine is already smooth, but if left for a few hours or decanted then it develops a mouthfeel which can only reasonably be compared to silk. Alone, the mouthfeel justifies the purchase here – and we’re not even on to the taste.
Clocking in at ~14% (again, please note our previous recommendation that there can be variation between the bottles) the alcohol content and tannins are modest, but to be respected. The quality of the wine means that these easily give way to the subtle and varied flavors present, allowing the wine to excel in it’s varied tastes.
Fruity for an older vintage, notes of cherry and vanilla give way softly to undercurrent of more complex notes – tobacco and earth. By far the most incredible feature of the Château Musar Gaston Hochar however is the incredible way that none of the notes overpower each other. This is incredibly difficult in any wine, especially in one with inter-bottle variation, but every bottle of Gaston Hochar we’ve experienced absolutely nails this.
A genuinely fascinating wine, the bottle variation here also becomes a strong asset – with no two bottles exactly the same, leaving each new bottle as an exploration of the wonders of flavors which are more or less prominent.
The delicate cork
One area we would like to draw attention to however is the cork. Naturally, any aged wine will have varied cork experiences depending on how the wine itself has been stored – always preferably in a cool, dry, dark place (wine cellar, preferably).
However, since one the wine has left the winery this is outside of their control, we have found that this wine (from a number of suppliers) has a habitual issue of suffering from dry cork. As such, it’s absolutely vital to ensure you have a quality wine bottle opener before you go to open a bottle.
If a cork does split, it isn’t the end of the world. You can always decant – which is in fact something we’d strongly recommend, so don’t despair. This being said however, a dry cork is just something we’d always like to avoid if possible, so make sure you’re prepared with a great bottle opener and you’ll minimize the risk of issues here.
If storing yourself and ageing, once again we’d just like to draw attention to our earlier comments – ensure that the bottles are stored in a cool, dry, dark location. Specifically here, the heat is likely to cause issues with dry corks, so this is something that you should pay keen attention to if you’re keeping bottles of Château Musar Gaston Hochar for ageing.
Our final notes here are simple. Firstly, buy this wine. Secondly, decant it.
Yes, it’s an expensive wine, but trust us when we say this is one for the ages. Since the bottles age well, and improve over time, you won’t find yourself frustrated if you don’t manage to get through the bottles you purchase, and it is absolutely perfect for the special occasions – an anniversary, a meeting with old friends, or even a wedding celebration.
As for the decanting, don’t misinterpret – this wine is incredible straight out of the bottle. But just like an evening with great company is incredible even without wine, it’s better when you improve the evening with a simple addition. Decanting the Château Musar Gaston Hochar pushes it from a 90/100 to a 97+/100, and for such a simple change, it’s always worth exploring.