Notes from a small trade tasting with Serge Hochar in Vancouver.
I hadn’t seen Serge in a couple of decades, but he was looking great and dapper as ever despite some recent health scare. He was on one of his peripatetic promotional tours and had some of his recent wines with him.
2003 Hochar Pere et Fils Rosé – Serge says he makes the Pere et Fils wines to please everyone, while he makes Ch. Musar only to please himself. Pale pink, pleasant and balanced with a hint of spice, a middle of the road decent rosé for summer consumption. Made from cinsault with some Grenache.
2001 Hochar Pere et Fils Red – this wine is bottled after 3 years (6-7 months of it in wood) and is mainly cinsault. The colour is fairly light, the nose was ripe with some pepper, and it was balanced, soft and ready to drink,
1999 Musar – bright wine with leather and spice in the nose, and only a hint of VA. Medium body, good acidity, and the tannins are quite soft. Made from cabernet, carignane and cinsault. He considers this a very good vintage, and the 1995 an excellent vintage.
1998 Musar – a little spicier in the nose, which carries through on palate, a bit oxidative at the end. Forward wine.
1995 Musar – this was more like the vintages of old that I remember fondly. More depth to the nose and markedly greater VA, which Serge indicated was intentional. Sweet entry, quite juicy middle and good length.
These wines have always been a bit unusual in that the seem to put on weight as they age instead of the opposite. Hochar himself says that he thinks Musar should be drunk from about the age of 15 onward.
I asked him about the difference in the showing of the 1995 versus the later two vintages and he indicated that he had to cut back on the VA quite a bit after.
He then presented his white wine, serving it last as he thinks it is the most ageworthy and because he believes that it stands up to the reds. It is made from two local varietals, obedieh and merwah, which he posits were taken back to Europe following the Crusades, and became what we know as chardonnay and Semillon. I have no idea if modern scientific ampellographers agree.
1999 Ch. Musar White – now showing some colour, musk melon nose, a bit reticent, and pleasant, full and balanced. One of his only wines fermented in steel (he prefers concrete for the reds). Only the second time I’ve tasted the Musar white, and maybe I just haven’t had one old enough (he went on about the lovely 1952), or maybe it just isn’t my cuppa chai, as I wonder what all the fuss is about.
Always interesting to revisit this producer – I very much enjoyed the wines from the 1970s, then thought they had dropped the ball a bit in the 80s. The 1995 was enough to convince me that they can still produce a pretty interesting wine, and I’ll keep an eye on them, if only for use in blind tastings where you can easily fool everyone, as long as they don’t know that VA clue!