Château Musar Rouge 2002 might just be the most exciting young Musar I have had. But since it has been a while since this wine has been available (or affordable) in Finland, there is a possibility that my emotions make this seem greater than it really is.
The year started out abnormally cool, but the end of the growing season was hot, but not so hot (or not hot long enough) that the acidity would have plummeted. It is a year with much of everything: fruit, alcohol (14%), acidity, tannins - and amazingly enough with such a combination, nuance and elegance, too. There is nothing raisiny or overripe as there was with the red 2001, yet it has the ripe, sexy, funky, savoury style of the 1991. Wonderful grip. I have previously thought of Musar's structure as more acid than tannin driven, but this has almost Nebbiolo-like palate-cleansing tannins. The wonderful acidity makes this very moreish. I always thought that having much fruit, much alcohol, much acidity and much tannin was a combination that made wine difficult to drink, but this Moose proves me wrong. Lovely stuff.
Newton Red Label Chardonnay 2005 partly from Napa, partly from Sonoma (IIRC 60% / 40%); a massive 15,5% abv.
Today I experienced something that has only happened to me once before: I preferred the corked wine to the correct one.
That seems like such an outrageous thing to say that I should emphasize one point: I am not very sensitive to cork taint and I didn't get overt corked aromas from the flawed bottle (I was told by others around the table that it was corked).
But the differences were strange. As expected, the flawed bottle wasn't as outrageously over-the-top in the fruit department as was the correct bottle (and for me that was a big positive). It also had clearer citrus aromas and therefore seemed more in character with what I expect and hope to see with this grape than the "good" bottle which was all about massive toffee and buttered popcorn aromas.
Strangely, the cork seemed not only to diminish the sensation of fruit, but also of oak and butter - all aromatic components seemed turned down a notch (and since none of these aromatic components really appeal to me, perhaps it is now more understandable why I preferred the flawed bottle - especially as I didn't sense overt corky, musty aromas?). But I thought cork wasn't supposed to affect other aromas than the fruit? Was I wrong?
The palate of the flawed wine was leaner, more precise, with the structure more obvious. It wasn't as sickly sweet. Oddly enough, even with the loss of fruit, the super high alcohol wasn't accentuated - in both bottles, it was amazingly well concealed.
Well, whether very mildly corked or not, I wouldn't go buying this - it's not really a style I enjoy. But it was a strange experience finding the corked one more palatable. For those who like big, obvious, new world Chardonnay, this was IMO a well made example of the style - and I understand this style does have its fans!