The 3 Crystal Cruises ships (800-804-1500; www.crystalcruises.com) aretops in the large luxury liner class. Afood and wine festival cruise to Alaskawas just too tempting for Bérénice andme to pass up. On board there would beno need for a designated driver afterdinner. Nor, as we found out, would wefeel obliged to finish an entire bottle at1 sitting. Our wine steward carefullystored the remainder for a later meal.
The boat's wine listincluded stellar entrieslike the elegant 1959Château Lafite Rothschild(www.lafite.com). Whilea bottle of Château Lafiteset guests back $2910, there were plentyof bargains to take advantage of andmodestly priced wine to enjoy. Our oldfriend, Ladoucette, cost only 50% morethan the retail price I pay at home.
Amazingly, the 1995 Château Musar,Gaston Hochar, Bekaa Valley (www.chateaumusar.com) is a regular item onthe wine menu aboard the CrystalHarmony. This usually difficult to findwine comes from Ghazir, Lebanon,which is located 15 miles north of Beirut.Compared to the many interesting winesaboard ship, the $48 bottle of ChâteauMusar proved very unique.
Fine Wine Surprises
The Château Musar is full of delicioussurprises. Its light brick color, usually seenwith much older wines, is the first surprise.Next, the nose, with pungent hintsof earth and mushrooms, is followed by aBordeaux-style cabernet taste. However,there is an unexpected peppery componentthat is more typical of Rhône Syrahs.
The Musar is powerful, with a long finish.It can easily stand up to strongly flavoredfoods and be cellared. This is a verygood wine that has only the faintest overtonesof heat and alcohol, which areoften prominent characteristics of NorthAfrican wines whose grapes ripen tooquickly under an intense latitudinal sun.
Philip R. Alper, an internist andprofessor of medicine at theUniversity of California at SanFrancisco, has been published inthe Wall Street Journal, Diversion,Medical Economics, and InternalMedicine World Report.