BLOG: Lebanese Wine - Old Skool Musar VS. New World Wardy

It's quite annoying when someone asks us which Lebanese wine tastes better, Chateau Musar or Domaine Wardy. Or question like "what's the difference between Musar and Wardy?" We have only one straight answer for you, "TRY IT NOW AND YOU TELL ME!"

Quantity VS. Quality
Wine critics who have tasted both wine will agree that Musar and Wardy have different cultural background and styles in winemaking. Musar, which has been in the market for decades and is known as one of the oldest, biggest wineries in Lebanon, earned its legendary status from producing world-class wine throughout the civil war of Lebanon. Its production quantity and quality are well-balanced to meet the market demand. And it was gradually commercialized in recent years.
Whereas Domaine Wardy, a rising star from Bekaa Valley, tends to lean towards New World Style, representing the future of Lebanese wine. Its annual production is very limited in an effort to keep consistent quality in its wine. It seeks uniqueness and new characters to set itself off from other rivals in the picture. In terms of style and tastes, Domaine Wardy is more akin to Bordeaux or Sud de France. But we are quite impressed by the fact that both Wardy's White and Red have significant long aging potential or they can be drunk immediately. 
Domaine Wardy Private Selection 2006 (Photo credit: Allen Lam)
The Beauty of Domaine Wardy, The Future of Lebanese Wine
Wardy Winery in Zahle
The sun is brutal in Zehle, Bekaa Valley, where Domaine Wardy's vineyard is located. That explains the intensity of its wine - high sugar, tannins, and alcohol levels. The dry soil, cold winter, hot summer and winemaker's style, all of these factors combined dictate the characters of the juice. 
Wardy Headquarter
Wardy's vineyards are planted with largely French varieties - Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Obeideh (indigenous grape), Muscat, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. This fertile land is so small and resources are very limited, and yet it's still able to product premium Red like Private Selection. Each vintage exhibits fruity, jammy notes, and they are full of surprises, with style you won't find in other Lebanese wines. 
Diana Salame Khalil, winemaker at Wardy, is formerly of Domaine Leflaive, has been making award-winning wines there for more than a decade.
The Beauty of Musar, The Tradition Continues
Some of you may agree with us that old vintages Musar taste much better than younger vintages. For Château Musar’s red, Serge Hochar uses varying proportions of three red grapes: prodigiously perfumed Cinsault, rich and spicy Carignan (far richer than this variety ever is in the Languedoc) and dense yet succulent Cabernet Sauvignon. 
Chateau Musar 1991
In the `Musar Man’, as Serge puts it, “the Cabernet Sauvignon is the skeleton, the backbone, which I hide with the muscles, which come from the Carignan, and the skin, which is the Cinsault”. Other grapes come and go on an experimental basis, but none has ever figured large in the blend: Serge had tried Syrah and Mourvèdre but is now discarding them; research continues on Grenache and Merlot. Therefore they have a distinctive taste: heady, a little wild, with a cinnamon sweetness. (source: Decanter
Our Verdict
Musar 1991: Pure balance of earthy age, acid, tannin and fruit, integrated together into symphony. 
Wardy 2006: Only 12,000 bottles were produced. Extremely powerful and silky, it’s a blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that has been aged in new French oak barrels for 14 months, this unfiltered red wine has an expressive spicy nose with hints of clove and a luxurious taste of black fruits and spices with a caramelized finish. Nice depth with complex notes of Havana tobacco.
Our Recommendations:
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Author: Cass Lam
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