Our 2017 vintage looks to be very promising indeed, the wines of this year are unique, yet retaining classical Chateau Musar character. Three factors come to our minds, the similarity in style of the different decades ending in 7, the taste of the last vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon harvested and powerful aromas. It has a bright ruby colour and there are sweet red cherries, mulberries and plums on the nose with a hint of tea tree and liquorice. The tannins are soft and well-integrated and this vintage has good acidity, depth of fruit and a long finish. Cellared well, it will age beautifully for decades.
Each varietal was fermented with natural yeasts in concrete vats, then aged for 12 months in French Nevers oak barrels before blending in early 2020 and bottled without fining or filtration during the summer months. Fermentation proceeded smoothly and temperatures ranged between 27 and 30 degrees. All the wines proved very aromatic and in particular the last Cabernet Sauvignon picked, showed for the first time, aromas and taste of exotic fruits and even guava. Malolactic fermentation finished by 1st November and preliminary tastings showed that 2017 is a different year with more structure and power, reminding us of 2007, 1997 and 1987 vintages, as if it was a decade style.
We began the year with high hopes after experiencing above average rain and snowfall in January, leading to expectations that the water table would be replenished. More rain and snow followed in February and non-stop in March but turned into a mild spring with temperatures rising in April, though not excessively. In fact, opening of buds on the vines was 10 days later than usual due to low air temperatures and comparatively cold soils. In late April a one day frost hit the Bekaa Valley but at the time was not seen as particularly harmful. We were only to learn of the effects of that day at harvest time when it transpired that the vines pruned in early winter had indeed suffered, though Cinsault proved the most resistant. On the 24th June, the temperature reached 37 degrees and this heat continued until mid-August affecting the vines and grapes resulting in lower yields. We started harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon on the 22nd August, Cinsault the 4th September and Carignan on the 7th.
An equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan
The varietal components are brought together two years after the harvest; the resulting blend is then placed back in cement tanks before being bottled 12 months later. Each wine is blended to reflect the character of the vintage. After 4 years’ bottle maturation in the deep stone cellars of Chateau Musar, the finished wines are released a full seven years after the harvest.