Wine Tasting with Marc Hochar of Chateau Musar

To many casual wine drinkers, the question of “What is the greatest wine estate in the Middle East,” might seem roughly equivalent to inquiring, “What is the most sacred Buddhist retreat in Chualar?”  The Middle East may not be chockablock with exceptional wineries, though there is at least one, Château Musar, founded by Gaston Hochar in 1930.  The vineyards are planted in the Bekaa Valley, 20 miles inland from Beirut in the Bekaa Valley, which sits at roughly 3000 feet above sea level between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountain ranges.  Musar was “discovered” by Michael Broadbent of Decanter Magazine at a wine fair in Bristol, England in 1967.  Thereafter, the fame and cult-like following of Musar quickly spread through Europe and eventually the U.S.   Indeed, Serge Hochar, Gaston’s son and the man generally credited with establishing the Musar winemaking formula, was Decanter Magazine’s inaugural Man Of The Year in 1984, a bittersweet vintage as it, along with 1976 were lost due to fighting during the Lebanese Civil War.  A poignant fact which makes the travails of making wine in the New World seem petty in comparison.