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May 10, 2011

Review: Lebanese Wines

This was yet another privileged event for my other half and I, having been invited again to another of O'Gourmet's very exclusive wine tasting evenings.We were very excited to hear that they were featuring Lebanese wines that evening. What with the sheer production volume and reputation of the French wines and now, New World wineries, we have perhaps forgotten that the area around Lebanon was most possibly the granddaddy of all wine growing regions and the birthplace of wine itself! And apparently,
Chateau Musar had been around since the 1930s. Duh.
We also had the privilege of having the winery owner himself, Mr Ralph Hochar of Chateau Musar, who is the 3rd generation owner, to present his very exclusive and limited edition wines and to give us an overall history and details regarding the grapes, procedures etc, that our amateur minds needed to absorb... my apologies to the other folks who attended this event, I was only speaking for myself and hubby.

We started off with the Chateau Musar Cuvee Blanc 2004. It's made with Obaideh grapes from vines aging from 50 - 75 years. It had the most lovely fresh green apple scent. This was served to accompany an antipasti platter of marinated olives, peppers, mushrooms, calamari rings and my favorite of all .... the creme crottin tartlets, which is a creamy goat's cheese in a tartlet shell. Didn't think the shells did it any credit tho, I just dug out the crottin and ate it on its own .... Mmmmm, heaven!

Oh yeah, the wine ..... beautifully complimented each other. Wish they'd served more of that. Personally, I'd have this wine with some fresh oysters / seafood and a cheese platter and not the very marinated, sour feta stuffed tomatos that dulled my tastebuds (couldn't even taste the feta) and changed the taste of the wine.

That probably contributed to my opinion of this next wine ....
The Chateau Musar Jeune Blanc 2009, an unoaked blend of Viognier, Vermentino and Chardonnay, also served with the same antipasti platter, didn't hit my pleasure points as much as the Cuvee did. But then, I'm biased towards the more fruity wines. I thought the acidity was a little sharp. (Tongue-buds still a little wonky, remember?)

The unoaked Chateau Musar Jeune Red 2009, a blend of Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon was next and to compliment it was a Duck Confit Pizzette (where's the duck?) ... I thought the pizza was good even if I couldn't find any duck pieces in them and, yes, it went well with the wine. I felt the tannins were a little strong for me when drunk on its own but it mellowed some and went down easier when drunk with the food. I can imagine this with a good tomato-based pasta and maybe even some local curry dishes. Yessss ....!

The last and my favorite red for the night, the Chateau Musar Hochar Pere et Fils 2002, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan and a hint of Grenache. A lightly oaked red, with all the scents of dark berries you can think of. Lovely! This was paired with Sous Vide Shortrib Beef Tempura with a spiced dip and some pickled red onions. Also recommended to compliment the wine: game, poultry.


1. Château Musar Cuvée Blanc 2004
2. Château Musar Jeune Blanc 2009
(Paired with an antipasti platter of marinated olives, pepperone, mushrooms, tabbouleh, creme crottin mini tartlets and calamari rings)

3. Château Musar Jeune Rouge 2009
(Paired with a duck confit pizzette)

4. Château Musar Hochar Pere et Fils Red 2002
(Paired with sous vide shortribs beef tempura with ras-el-hanout spiced dip)

All in all, it was a good evening and we also had some light moments with the in-house French Sommelier poking fun and making jabs at the Lebanese wines ... which I think he'd already swirled, nosed and "tasted" a couple of bottles before the event even started. :D

Not surprising that I went home happy (and pretty "tanned") with 3 of my favorite bottles in the bag.

Food by Chinoz


  1. I've tried Lebanese wine only once I think. It was fairly decent, especially considering the price. I see your wine tasting job can be quite stressful especially if the food/wine pairing is out of sync. Thats when you ask for money back

  2. Love your review. It's only recently I discovered Lebanese wines myself and I was so surprised that they could give the French a good run for their money ;-) Too funny your comment about the sommelier! What a fabulous tasting you did!

  3. Woah! Lebanon was the birth place of wine?!?!? WHO knew!?! Thanks for sharing this post!

  4. 3Cookies: Fortunately I was an invitee, so didn't have to pay except for my purchases. But then, that's the whole idea of a wine/food pairing, isn't it? To find out what goes and what doesn't. This time I know for sure what NOT to serve these with. The wines themselves were pretty good and like you said, very decently priced too. But then, I'm no pro.

    Jill C: Haha! That French sommelier was very cheeky but he brightened up an otherwise overly serious atmosphere!

    Tiffany: Most possibly, from what I gather from past history ... I'm no expert.

  5. :) Hello!
    Nice review! To be honest was stl hungry that night! ;p
    but the beef tempura was really nice :)

  6. Hi Rebecca. Thanks for dropping by. Haha! Yeah, these things are never proper meals ... so I've learnt :D I do have a little to eat before going. Also it doesn't matter if the food s good or bad, when you're hungry, everything tastes good, so I didn't want that to happen.

  7. Well, the wine looks stunning! Sorry the food was kind of 'eh.' Sounds like a good time tho!

  8. Parsley Sage: Yeah, wasn't very impressed with the food. They used to be one of my fav places to eat until they moved to a swankier area. Don't know what happened. "Eh" is a good word. :D

  9. What a fabulous wine review, Ping. So chic, and professional! Really impressive. Don't know anything about Lebanese wines, never tried them, and I have never seen them in our local wine shops, although they carry all sorts of wines from around the world. Maybe, because I never even asked for them!
    The food is usually a little complimentary appetizers, and people should not expect to have a full appetizer spread, and in most cases, they are the ones who are making the money, because they charge for the wine tasting, and you always end up buying some wine, which is not a bad choice:D
    Ping, please stop by my blog, I have an award for you to pick up. Lucky for me the list that had your name is still on, but the other list for the other award never was re-cuperated. Blogger did not put it back...and neither the previous comments!

  10. Hi Elisabeth. Glad you like the review. It's also a good eye opener for some. One of these 4 (can't remember which) had a really small production year, not more than 200 crates so it's good to have a try since we'll never get it the same again.
    You spoil me, my dear friend, another award?! I am so very honored. Will drop by soon. Thanks soooo much! :D

  11. Thank you, Your writing has helped me,,
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  12. Hi Manda. Thanks for the visit. Glad I could help.

  13. Great post Ping. Your a treasure trove of interesting information on food and wine. I am impressed really! There is always something to learn from you every time I visit your kitchen. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Hi Art, nice to see you again :D Thanks for visiting. I loved your recent post and have tried it out and had so much fun!