Chateau Musar 2001
I had wanted to open a special bottle to celebrate the 300-mile mark on the virtual walk The first available location was Kirkcaldy, and with respect to the town and its citizens the concrete sea-wall running the length of the Esplanade didn’t quite cut it somehow. So instead I waited until tonight, having reached Donibristle, just outside Dalgety Bay. Having spent an enjoyable week on the Fife Coastal Path it seemed apt to have a glass or two to bid it farewell by staring a little wistfully at tomorrow’s route southwards. (OK, not exactly that bridge, but you get the idea.)
I chose a bottle of Musar 2001. I don’t quite get what is happening to Musar prices. I bought this one for under £20 in a Waitrose promo last year. Now it seems that £30 is the going rate. Fortunately I bought a few, and still have four to go. First things first, the cork came out smoothly and in one piece using my Butler’s friend. There was a slight air of oxidation at first which concerned me, and a excessive tartness to the first snifter. But after an hour, both seemed to have gone away. What remained was pretty much standard Musar – very pale, floral, herby, mentholly tasting, and in terms of ‘where am I from?’ all over the place. It’s like a claret, only a bit Italian. Actually, not so much claret as a southern Rhône. Or perhaps in between. But it certainly looks more like a burgundy. So hard to pin down, it’s easy…
Back in the real world, I’m drinking it while listening to Hal Willner’s ‘Weird Nightmare – Meditations on Mingus.’ Equally hazy and difficult to pin down, it has a dreamlike if not quite nightmare edge to it. Bill Frisell’s woozy guitar meets a selection of Harry Partch’s bizarre percussion instruments and extracts from Beneath the Underdog are read over Mingus’ music by the likes of Henry Rollins, Robbie Robertson and – memorably – Chuck D. If that all sounds a bit Top 40, Diamanda Galas turns up for a bit of wailing during Leonard Cohen’s recitation of The Chill of Death and Robert Quine gives his guitar a good seeing to on Pithecanthropus Erectus. If you have any kind of love for Mingus, you should give this a listen. Great record, and perfect accompaniment to the Musar.