Serge Hochar of Lebanon’s Chateau Musar died while on vacation in Mexico. To call the story of his family’s winery, as well as his wines, astonishing would be an understatement.
I got the chance to meet Hochar over two years ago and it was one of the most memorable encounters I’ve had in my years in wine. He led a seminar where I was one among many eager tasters of older vintages of Chateau Musar reds and whites going all the way back to 1980. As a person and a personality, Hochar was unforgettable. Demonstrative, intellectual, thoughtful, engaging, and also possessed with a great sense of humor.
For Hochar, his wines were a companion to join you, side by side, as life progressed. “They are wines to age with you.” He reasoned, “You are changing, the wines are changing.” What makes a wine memorable? Hochar was not into getting too clinical about what was in the glass, but rather more philosophical: “The way it lingers. A wine that has the ability to stay, to become infinite.”
Just as Hochar was a conduit for Chateau Musar, so were his wines a vehicle for discussing broader feelings and emotions. “I am using wine to talk to you about the world of senses,” Hochar explained. Each vintage of Chateau Musar tasted that day–imbued with Hochar’s words, experiences, and labor–illustrated what he believed made wine transcendent: its ability to “transform the taste into memory.”
Serge Hochar, the memory of you is infinite.
Alder Yarrow and Jancis Robinson have penned tributes to Hochar, two voices among many remembering him.
You can read a recap of my afternoon with Hochar and his wines on Foodista.