Chateau Musar 1996 Bekaa Valley White Wine ($30.00)
This clear, golden wine ranks among the most complex and intriguing white wines I have ever tasted. In spite of the wine's relative age, its oxidative aromas are light and delicate and not at all geriatric: Almonds and hazelnuts with no hint of the walnutty Sherrylike quality of an over-the-hill white. Mixed nuts are joined by white stone fruits and banana oil in the flavor; fresh herbs, too, thyme and tarragon, gradually give way to clovey brown spice as the wine airs in the glass, with herbs and spice and floral white fruit in a remarkably long finish that seems to last for minutes. Full-bodied and ripe, the wine is not overly tart, but there's plenty of fresh-fruit acidity to provide structure. A delight. US Importer: Broadbent Selections Inc., San Francisco. (Jan 7, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: A wine of this depth can be enjoyed alone, but it's delicious with food, calling for hearty and relatively robust fare. At our table it found a delicious if offbeat match with spicy, black-peppery leftover chicken from a local Senegalese spot.



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