Negotiants Imported Wine Tasting – June 2015

Chateau Musar, New Zealand Pinot Noir, French Wines

12th July 2015

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

Here are my first impressions on a range of excellent wines imported by Negotiants. Part of the Yalumba group, Negotiants has the most extensive range of high quality wines in Australia, so products should be widely available (though they may need to be ordered in).

The two highlights for the tasting were the bracket of Pinot Noirs, and tasting though several wines from Chateau Musar with Ralph Hochar, the grandson of founder Gaston Hochar.

Situated in Lebanon, Chateaux Musar was founded in 1930, with the aim of producing fine wines in the tradition of Bordeaux. Gaston’s son Serge was named Decanter Magazine’s inaugural “Man of the Year” in 1984. This was in recognition of his remarkable achievement in producing wines through the Lebanon civil war.

The Bekaa Valley is now home to a number of vineyards and wineries, but Chateau Musar remains their most famous export.


Marc Bredif –Chenin Blanc – Brut – NV. Creamy, textural nose. The palate is rich and generous, with decent acidity to keep the fruit balanced, and there is good length. An interesting and worthwhile alternative to Champagne. Will take antipasto very well.

Pol Roger – Champagne – 2004. Complex nose, but not overtly influenced by lees. The fruit really shines here, with pinot richness adding depth. Long, this is a very subtle, fine wine.

Pol Roger – Champagne – Rose – 2004. This has the palest salmon colour. A touch more red fruits on the nose compared to the vintage. Fine and elegant, with zesty acidity, but the subtle complexity drives the finish. Sublime.

Domaine du Vieux Telegraph – Chateauneuf du Pape – la Crau – 2012. Supple, subtle red fruits on the nose, with complex mineral and spice notes. The palate is alive, with vibrant fruit leading into savoury, earthy notes. Very long and fine, with minerality and texture, a wine of real presence and style.

Chateau Musar – Rhone Blend – Hochar Pere Et Fils – 2008. Lighter, pale colour, tending towards brick red. Lovely fragrant fruit with spice and depth to the nose. The palate is savoury and complex. The fruit is subdued, allowing the gentle complex characters to shine. The acid drive adds length. Good now with hearty food, this is from a lighter year, and is made to drink earlier than the premium wine.

Chateau Musar – Cabernet Blend – 2007. Lighter colour reflecting the age and the style. There is serious power to the fruit, yet the wine comes across as elegant and refined, with great length and texture. Not mainstream, but a lovely drink. (33% new oak and is from a strong year).

Chateau Musar – Cabernet Blend – 2000. Quite Burundian. Feminine, floral, complex, with ripe, savoury, spicy fruit. The palate is remarkable for the way the fruit builds and gains depth. A savoury treat.

Pinot Noir

Nautilus – Pinot Noir – 2012. Nice balance of fruit and savoury complexity on the nose. The palate is fresh, with the structured fruit giving way to oak and fruit tannins on the close. Quite serious, but needs a year or two. From Marlborough.

Fromm – Pinot Noir – Clayvin Vineyard – 2013. I liked this a lot. Serious fruit with cherry and spices – clove and cardamom. The palate is fresh and light, with an almost ethereal character. Delicate, refined and very long, this is a delightful wine. Now – 5 years.

Grasshopper Rock – Pinot Noir – Earnscleugh Vineyard – 2012. Restrained and taut, yet with a core of vibrant fruit running through the palate. Quite savoury to close. A fine effort from Central Otago, without the fleshiness often seen from this region.

Valli – Pinot Noir – Gibston Vineyard – 2013. Dense ripe fruit, showing cherry, plum and spice, typical of Central Otago. The palate is dense, with earthy notes adding depth and interest. The long finish sees the tannins dry up the fruit somewhat, making this a good prospect for a few years in the cellar, or served with lamb now.

Two Paddocks – Pinot Noir – 2013. A complete wine from Central Otago that is a great drop now. Deceptive, as the intrinsic quality is easy to miss due to the ease of drinking. Who needs food?

Ata Rangi – Pinot Noir – 2013. Brilliant colour. The nose is complex, yet delicate and refined. The palate has vibrant fruit, with a cloak of oak and tannins. The souring, cherry-like acidity really cuts through on the finish, ensuring drive and focus. With excellent length and persistence, the fruit fans out on the close. A brilliant wine that can be drunk any time over the next 10 years.

Francois Feuillet – Pinot Noir – Chambole Musigny – 1er Cru – Les Sentiers. A lovely nose that combines savoury/spicy notes with supple fruit. The palate is bright and fresh, with menthol and hints of tar and aniseed.

Geantet-Pansiot – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – 1er Cru – Le Poissenot – 2010. Quite savoury at first, with meaty/earthy notes. That said, there is a core of ripe, powerful fruit that defines the wine. The palate is quite elegant, with the earthy/savoury minerality carrying the length of the palate. Very long, this is a fine wine indeed. Not cheap, but very good.

Dugat – Py – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – Ville Vignes – 2008. Concentrated fruit on the noseDepth provided by the complex earthy notes. Old vines really show their worth here. On the palate, the balance is excellent, though the fruit is actually quite muted, shut down by the structural components and savoury oak. Superb wine in the making, and remarkable quality for a village wine.