Once in a Lifetime…Vertical Tasting of Chateau Musar…

13 people…19 Vintages…one evening… This, is why I am in the Wine business. The planning of this event started last fall, well before the untimely passing of Serge Hochar on New Year’s Eve. His passing was not the reason for this gathering, but it certainly changed the significance of the day. We didn’t just celebrate the wines of Chateau Musar, we celebrated the man who made them. Many of the people at the table had meet Serge and everyone had a story to tell. This is a very special group of people. 13 people who know each other… because of wine. We are good friends, woven together by the common thread that is Chateau Musar, how we came to know it, and how Serge Hochar touched our lives. One very important invitee was not able to attend because of the effect that Serge’s passing had on his schedule… Bartholomew Broadbent, a very close friend of the Hochar family, and importer of Chateau Musar. He was missed, but was very kind to send a special bottle in his stead. The origin of the thread of commonality began when Justin Wardwell bought a coffee table book about wine back in 1997 that mentioned Chateau Musar as one of the 50 wines that every wine drinker should taste before they die. Justin was just starting his journey into the wine world with his closest “wine friend” Michael “Hago” Harrington at his side. (Justin would eventually go on to start Wicked Wines, a distributor, and Hago formed Down East Wine Imports.) They went on to acquire and enjoy their first bottle of Musar together, and became the pied piper’s of the Musar from then on. They travelled to Boston to meet Serge at a Chateau Musar event. They meet Bartholomew there as well. Hago introduced Jack and Tammy Scully to Bartholomew Broadbent and now their company,Easterly Wine distributes Chateau Musar in Maine. Scott Worcester tried the Musar for the first time on Justin’s 30th birthday. My first Musar experience was on Scott’s 40th a few months later. Kirk Grant and Eamonn Hardin both worked for Scott at Sawyer’s Specialties. Derek Wilber and Scott are friends and neighbors in Southwest Harbor. Nancy Diedrickson used to work for Derek at Fiddler’s Green Restaurant, and now she works for Scott and Jen at Sips. Our host, Jay Madeira manages the Clairmont Hotel and is responsible for their world class wine list. Jetsun Penkalski works at Max’s Blue Hill Wine Shop and, along with Daniel Bridgers of Maine Distributors, have been regular guests at Scott’s annual wine gatherings. Okay, enough about the people. About the Wine, Chateau Musar Red, one of the most unique and most age worthy wines in the world, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Carignan. Each grape is vinified seperately. They are fermented with natural yeasts and aged in concrete tanks until blending takes place. The blending was done when Serge decided that “the time is right” (3 or more years later). The wine was then aged in wooden barrels after blending. The wine is only released when Serge decided that they were ready. He was known to hold back wines for many years if necessary. We tasted the following vintages… 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000,1999,1998,1997,1996,1995,1994,1993,1991,1990,1989,1988, and the elusive 1984, a personal gift to Bartholomew from Serge, that he was gracious enough to share with the rest of us. To say that this was a “once in a lifetime” event is an understatement. Each vintage has it’s own unique personality, that is what makes the Musar… Musar. Did we have “favorite” wines? Absolutely…but, what made it most memorable was the people at the table…and me thinking back to that afternoon that I spent with Serge. Someone asked him which vintage of red wine did he consider to be his “best” wine. He responded by saying “My best red wines…are my white wines”… Next time Serge…next time.