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Chateau Musar Blanc 1998 & Clos Pepe Pinot Noir 2005

May 5, 2008

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2 singular wines produced by 2 singular producers on different sides of the world. They actually had quite a bit in common – especially from a structural point-of-view (aside from their winemaker’s dedication to quality and uncommon passion_

Chateau Musar Blanc 1998, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon: Deep gold color. Fascinating nose of marzipan, honey and hazelnuts. Sherry-like. Dried strawberries, dates and figs with slight citrus and floral notes. Very round and mouth-coating entry – the nose really lets on that this will be sweet – but NO! It’s dry. It has a generous body, but the mouthwatering tart acidity that gives the wine focus. Lemon cake. It opened up beautifully after 6-10 hours, and showed very little disintegration after 24(!). Thought-provoking and totally versatile: from mac-n-cheese to mixed mezze to fish to pastilla to baklava. This wine transcends preconceptions like color/varietal/blend/terroir and just exists. It’s polarizing, but not to be missed.

Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir 2005, Sta. Rita Hills, California: Beautiful purple-tinged ruby; translucent, but rich. The nose is perfumed with ripe strawberries, red raspberries, and some muted but alluring star anise, sandalwood, and cinnamon. There is an unusual perception of big volume and perfect fruit ripeness immediately on the entry (almost sweet?!) – which transitions towards a very elegant and finessed midpalate and finish. Medium body with great acidity to pair with anything from a burger to simply prepared salmon. Very fine tannins. The tiny touch of minerality and discrete bitterness on the finish is characterful. A superb example of using the right wood. Attractive but not sexy, charismatic but still humble, and bright but not pedantic. The bottle was gone way before we were ready to say goodbye.

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