We recently celebrated my birthday at our house with some close friends and I wanted to open some of my favorite bottles of wine.  I have had Chateau Musar a couple of times, the first at the Roast Pig dinner at the Breslin that I wrote about a few months back.  Anyway, we opened a 1994 and 1997 side by side so that we could compare them to each other.  Chateau Musar is an extremely interesting and surprising wine and you can never be sure what you will get from vintage to vintage, and bottle to bottle even for that matter!  Musar is always surprising and it is unique in that it hails from Lebanon.  It always surprises people, even myself, and it is one of the things that draws me to this wine.  Both the 1994 and 1997 showed very well, but the 1994 was amazing!  I was a bit worried as the fill level of the bottle was a little bit low and when I removed the foil capsule there was dried wine underneath.  I called Frankly Wines, a shop in NYC that carries a lot of Musar, and spoke with them and they said open it anyway and see if it was any good, and that if it was not they would replace the bottle.  Well kudos to them because it was still great.  We had a fun time comparing them side by side, and we opened one more bottle after the Musar’s as well that I thought had something in common with these wines.  It is the Raspay bottling from Primitvo Quiles in Spain.  It is a very old school traditional winery and Raspay, made from 100% Monastrell, always delivers a unique experience.  I have had Raspay on a number of occasions over the past couple years and it is always delicious, but this bottle was the best one I have ever had.  It enchanted not only myself, but my friends as well.  Truly one of the most memorable bottles of wine I have had, and that is saying a lot as it is hard to top Musar.  Raspay is also a huge bargain for the quality of wine you are getting.  It can be found at a few shops in the NYC area, but Le Du Wines has it for $23.99.  Here is a brief review of each of the three wines.

1997 Chateau Musar, Lebanon

The 1997 was a bit overshadowed by the 1994, none the less, it was a great bottle of wine.  It has a nose of mushrooms, gun powder, and red cherry fruit.  It is medium bodied and medium garnet in color.  There is a certain minerality to the wine as well.  RECOMMENDED

1994 Chateau Musar, Lebanon

The nose on the 1994 grabs you right away.  It is very aromatic and offers up sweet candied cherries, caramel, truffles, and pepper notes.  The wine was medium bodied and medium garnet in color, but had a slight more cloudy appearance when held next to the 1997.  Might have been a result of the leakage.  Despite the iffy bottle, the wine drank deliciously.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – ALL STAR

2002 Primitivo Quiles, Raspay Reserva

Again, this is normally and excellent bottle of wine, but this one was off the charts.  It tasted like a souped up version.  The nose was simply stunning on this wine, you could just keep smelling it and smelling it, it was so attractive.  There were big flavors of dark chocolate, blueberries, Medjool dates, and toasty vanilla oak.  It is like Turkish Delight in the glass with a huge nose, excellent mouth feel, and a long and delicious finish.  Reminded me a little bit of a great bottle of Amarone.  An experience, whew!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – MUST BUY – EXCELLENT VALUE – ALL STAR