Guest review: ‘Burgundy? It’s a little further east than that’
Pete Miller, head of corporate tax at Jerroms Miller, recalls his first taste of Château Musar
I wouldn’t consider myself a wine connoisseur, but I drink a reasonable amount of the stuff and I have a pretty good idea which wines I like. And, of course, I have some favourites. My absolute favourite wine of all time is Château Musar red from the Lebanon.
I guess I was a little bit lucky with this one, because the first time I had some it was the 1995 vintage, which I now know to be one of the best in recent years.
Indeed, Ralph Hochar, a member of the wine-making family, told me that only the 1987 was better. To be fair, in a vertical tasting (where I met him, when he came to Leicester), I couldn’t really tell the difference, but what do I know?!
I had read about Château Musar in a number of articles, but I had not had the opportunity to try it until about twenty years ago. That opportunity arose on an evening out which, in hindsight, was rather magical! It was at a restaurant in Birmingham that was close to winning a Michelin star, with my wife (alas, no longer with us) and some very close friends, and we had all elected to have private tasting menu.
Better still, the weather was glorious, so we were able to have pre-dinner drinks outside in the gardens. So to find that they had this wine that I had wanted to try was almost the icing on the cake.
I won’t pretend I remember my first taste of the wine in vivid detail, but the signature taste of Château Musar, to me, is of a slightly acidic fruitiness, with an almost leathery or cigar smoke taste, and great, great length. I’m bringing it to mind even as I type! Both the nose and the taste of the wine are like no other wine I have drunk before or since.
Perhaps my favourite bit of that magical evening was when one of the friends in our group, who trained as a pastry chef under Marco Pierre White, asked me which part of Burgundy the wine came from. I still remember laughing quietly and saying, “it’s a little further east than that, Greg”!
I was talking about this article with a work colleague, who is also familiar with the wine. His comments suggested that some analogies with myself. He suggested, firstly, that Chateau Musar is quite full-bodied and, indeed, it is probably fair to say that I could lose a few pounds!
Like many good wines, he noted that it improves with age, up to a point, which I decided to take as a compliment, although only up to a point!. And it has great legs, which is hard to understand, because he has never seen them!