Chateau Musar – ‘Gaston Hochar’, Beeka Valley, Lebanon 2000
Chateau Musar – ‘Gaston Hochar’, Beeka Valley, Lebanon 2000
Chateau Musar – ‘Gaston Hochar’, Beeka Valley, Lebanon 2000

In youth, Chateau Musar Reds are dense and richly-textured, with intense ‘baked fruit’ characters: plums, damsons, cranberries, cherries, figs and dates. Bordeaux grape Cabernet Sauvignon lends black fruit flavours; Rhône grapes Cinsault and Carignan contribute fragrance (violets; pepper) and supple spiciness. Either set of qualities might dominate a particular vintage, but the style is always emphatically Lebanese: enticingly aromatic, with persistent fruit flavours. Over decades the wines acquire tawny hues and mellow notes.

Chateau Musar
In 1930, at just 20 years old, Gaston Hochar founded Chateau Musar, inspired by Lebanon’s 6,000 year winemaking tradition and his travels in Bordeaux. His ‘wines with noblesse’ greatly impressed senior officers in the army following on from the French mandate of the 1920s. Major Ronald Barton, of Château Langoa-Barton, stationed in Lebanon during World War II became a great friend, strengthening the links between Chateau Musar and Bordeaux that remain to this day.

 

Serge Hochar, Gaston’s eldest son trained as a civil engineer, then decided to study oenology and with the encouragement of his father became a student of Emile Peynaud at the University of Oenology in Bordeaux. Having declared to his father “I want to make the wine my way, I want it to be known world-wide – and I want you to quit!” he became Chateau Musar winemaker in 1959, Gaston senior having graciously given way. He then spent 18 years perfecting the formula for Chateau Musar’s Red and was chosen as Decanter Magazine’s first ‘Man of the Year’ in 1984 for his dedication to producing superb quality wines during Lebanon’s Civil War (1975-1990). Serge has two sons: Gaston and Marc. Both have studied engineering and worked in the banking sector. Gaston now manages the day-to-day running of the Chateau Musar winery, Marc its commercial aspects.

 

“My brother looks after the liquid, I look after the liquidity.” Like his brother Serge, Ronald Hochar was encouraged to participate at Musar from an early age: both grew up washing bottles and working at the winery before pursuing their separate paths within the business. Ronald would work 7am-5pm in Ghazir then work in the evenings at the Musar shop in Beirut. “We were paid 5 Lebanese pounds a day” says Ronald “I learned everything about selling from my father.” Having studied law, Ronald’s good-humoured contributions on the commercial and logistical fronts (against huge odds he kept Musar’s trucks running during the war) remain vital to the business. Ronald’s son Ralph works with the on-trade sector from Chateau Musar’s UK office and his daughter Elsa recently produced a documentary film about Chateau Musar.

£34.95 Add to cart
Koshu Kayagatake, Grace, 2015
Koshu Kayagatake, Grace, 2015
Koshu Kayagatake, Grace, 2015

Bright, transparent lemon yellow with a tinge of green. Impression of cool climate green apples and herbs  on the nose, with a yeasty and dried leaf nuances wrapping at the back. Refreshing acidity balanced by a hint  of sweetness.

£18.95 Add to cart
Sula – Shiraz, Nashik, 2016
Sula – Shiraz, Nashik, 2016
Sula – Shiraz, Nashik, 2016

Sula Vineyards is at the forefront of the Indian wine revolution. The wines are served in the best restaurants worldwide. A smooth, medium-bodied red wine accentuated by ripe cherry and plum fruit, with attractive aromas of black pepper.

91 Points Wine Enthusiast (2012 vintage)
“Aromas of blackberry, cherry preserves, white chocolate and a hint of green pepper prepare the taste buds for flavors of forest-fruit, smoked pork, black pepper, violet and almond blossom. A trio of fruit, savory tones and spice travels across the palate on a layer of smooth tannins, leading to a smoky finish.” M.D.  (12/31/2014)

Sula Vineyards. Situated 180 km northeast of Mumbai, Nashik is India’s largest grape-growing region, but had traditionally never been used to grow wine grapes. Wondering why, an enterprising, Stanford-trained engineer named Rajeev Samant quit his hi-tech Silicon Valley job in 1993 to do some investigating.

 

A little research quickly showed that the Nashik climate was not only perfect for wine grapes, but was also on par with winegrowing regions in Spain, California, and Australia. His determination doubled and Rajeev returned to California in search of a winemaker. In Sonoma County he found Kerry Damskey, an eminent Californian winemaker, who enthusiastically agreed to help start a winery on Rajeev’s 30 acre family estate.
In 1997, the duo took the revolutionary step of planting French Sauvignon Blanc and Californian Chenin Blanc, varieties that had never before been planted in India. The first Sula wines, released in 2000, were widely acclaimed as India’s best white wines.
Since its inception, Sula has rapidly established itself as India’s Leading Premium Wine Producer, helping spark a wine revolution that has seen consumption grow at 25% annually and several new wineries come up in the Nashik area. In November 2002, Wine Spectator – the world’s No.1 wine magazine – did a five-page feature on Sula, a proud first for an Indian winery.
A second winery with three times the capacity of the first was completed in late 2004 to keep up with demand, and a third million litre winery started operations in 2006. Sula has expanded from the original 30 acre family estate to about 1,800 acres (owned and contracted) under plantation, both in Nashik as well as in nearby Dindori, India’s upcoming wine region. Varietals planted include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel and Merlot along with Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Riesling. In addition to having a wide distribution network within India, Sula also exports its wines internationally, as well as importing and distributing wines from leading producers worldwide. In 2005, Sula proudly launched its first reserve wine, the Dindori Reserve Shiraz, as well as India’s first dessert wine, the Late Harvest Chenin Blanc.
The winery and vineyards are open to the public for educational tours, and the beautiful Tasting Room invites visitors to enjoy their favourite Sula wines amidst spectacular views of the vineyards and surrounding lakes and hills. The nearby Sula amphitheatre is an impressive location for events and social gatherings and is available for bookings. Visitors can now spend a few nights in paradise at BEYOND, Sula’s new exclusive accommodation on the vineyards with a beautiful lake view.
Firmly committed to remaining at the forefront of Indian wines, Sula continues to experiment with new varietals, engage in sustainable agriculture, support the local rural economy, and, of course, make wines of outstanding quality and superb value.
£11.50 Add to cart
Sula – Sauvignon Blanc, Nashik, 2017
Sula – Sauvignon Blanc, Nashik, 2017
Sula – Sauvignon Blanc, Nashik, 2017

Sula Vineyards is at the forefront of the Indian wine revolution. The wines are served in the best     restaurants worldwide. Herbaceous, crisp and dry, with aromas of bell peppers, freshly cut green grass and refreshing acidity on the palate.

90 Points Wine Enthusiast (2013 vintage).
“Aromas of pink grapefruit, grass and coriander seed open the palate of this wine. Passion fruit, apricot, green apple and freshly chopped parsley mark the palate, with a touch of iodine on the finish. M.D.”  (12/31/2014)

Sula Vineyards. Situated 180 km northeast of Mumbai, Nashik is India’s largest grape-growing region, but had traditionally never been used to grow wine grapes. Wondering why, an enterprising, Stanford-trained engineer named Rajeev Samant quit his hi-tech Silicon Valley job in 1993 to do some investigating.
A little research quickly showed that the Nashik climate was not only perfect for wine grapes, but was also on par with winegrowing regions in Spain, California, and Australia. His determination doubled and Rajeev returned to California in search of a winemaker. In Sonoma County he found Kerry Damskey, an eminent Californian winemaker, who enthusiastically agreed to help start a winery on Rajeev’s 30 acre family estate.
In 1997, the duo took the revolutionary step of planting French Sauvignon Blanc and Californian Chenin Blanc, varieties that had never before been planted in India. The first Sula wines, released in 2000, were widely acclaimed as India’s best white wines.
Since its inception, Sula has rapidly established itself as India’s Leading Premium Wine Producer, helping spark a wine revolution that has seen consumption grow at 25% annually and several new wineries come up in the Nashik area. In November 2002, Wine Spectator – the world’s No.1 wine magazine – did a five-page feature on Sula, a proud first for an Indian winery.
A second winery with three times the capacity of the first was completed in late 2004 to keep up with demand, and a third million litre winery started operations in 2006. Sula has expanded from the original 30 acre family estate to about 1,800 acres (owned and contracted) under plantation, both in Nashik as well as in nearby Dindori, India’s upcoming wine region. Varietals planted include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Zinfandel and Merlot along with Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Riesling. In addition to having a wide distribution network within India, Sula also exports its wines internationally, as well as importing and distributing wines from leading producers worldwide. In 2005, Sula proudly launched its first reserve wine, the Dindori Reserve Shiraz, as well as India’s first dessert wine, the Late Harvest Chenin Blanc.
The winery and vineyards are open to the public for educational tours, and the beautiful Tasting Room invites visitors to enjoy their favourite Sula wines amidst spectacular views of the vineyards and surrounding lakes and hills. The nearby Sula amphitheatre is an impressive location for events and social gatherings and is available for bookings. Visitors can now spend a few nights in paradise at BEYOND, Sula’s new exclusive accommodation on the vineyards with a beautiful lake view.
Firmly committed to remaining at the forefront of Indian wines, Sula continues to experiment with new varietals, engage in sustainable agriculture, support the local rural economy, and, of course, make wines of outstanding quality and superb value.
£11.50 Add to cart