Serge Hochar, winemaker and proprietor of Chateau Musar, died last week while vacationing in Mexico. This may not be news since his death has been widely reported, but I wanted to emphasize what a loss to the wine world this is.
It has become a constant mantra among wine writers that it is not the wine itself but the stories of the people who make the wine that we should be writing about. But truth be told, winemakers are no more interesting (or uninteresting) than anyone else. Often the story behind a wine is just exaggerated pablum.
But Serge Hochar really was an interesting story. A creator of extraordinary beauty in the face of violence and staunch opposition, he made world class wines for 45 years in Lebanon, a predominantly Muslim country embroiled in civil war for much of that time.
The feat of making wine under such conditions is remarkable enough, but these were interesting, unique wines that carried the stamp of his personal vision.
I never met him but had the chance to do a vertical tasting of several vintages of his wine. My brief review of his career and the wines is here.
And here is the New York Times story announcing his death.