Lebanon's Weirdly Great Red Blend
You don't have to be a hoarder or deep-pocketed auction-goer to drink well-aged wine. Here, we spotlight affordable old bottles to buy now.
2003 Chateau Musar: This famous Lebanese wine is made by a charismatic storyteller named Serge Hochar, who kept Musar in production even as bombs struck nearby Beirut during the country’s 15-year civil war (as chronicled in GQ by Elizabeth Gilbert in 2004). Musar’s provenance is not it’s only unusual characteristic. It typically displays noticeable levels of Brettanomyces (a yeast that creates a distinct horsey smell) and volatile acidity (which creates a brightly unhinged salty-sour note). These things are usually considered outright faults, but in the case of Musar they add up to an unusually wild-tasting but excellent wine.
The (Wonderful) Effects of Age: Hochar says his wines shouldn’t be consumed before they’re 15 years old, but 2003’s fantastic weirdness is perfectly enjoyable at age 10. With notes of tomato, thyme and balsamic vinegar (from the VA) mixing with dried cherry and cinnamon, it’s a terrific example of a great red that has strong savory flavors in addition to fruit. This bottling is browner in color and brighter in flavor than the more darkly fruity 2004.
Drink It With: Daniel Boulud’s basil-crusted leg of lamb. Two of the grapes used in Musar, Carignane and Cinsaut, are typical components of southern Rhône blends, which are always a great choice with lamb.