About The Author:

"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.

Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com.

(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Muscat: What A Sweet Grape!

The fetching Mrs. Wine Guy recently suggested that I blog about good wines to enjoy while watching a sunset. While trying to narrow down the hundreds of excellent possible choices for a “Sunset Sippers” treatise, I rediscovered an old love: Muscat wine and wondered why I hadn’t written about this wonderful grape yet. It’s time to do just that!

The Muscat grape is grown for table grapes, raisins and wine. It is one of the oldest cultivated grapes and may well be ancestor of many other known varietals used in viniculture. Its documented history in beverages extends back almost 3,000 years having been discovered in residues found in the beverage vessels of King Midas’s tomb. Its popular strength began to grow in Italy’s Piedmonte where it has been utilized in wines dating back several centuries. There, it is generally thought that crusading knights brought the fist plantings back from Armenia.
Of the white grapes, Muscat has the highest know concentrations of antioxidant flavonoids and it can be capable of great aging and development. Darker varietals are know and utilized as well. You’ll even find a blend of Muscat wine and Mead called Muscadore and it’s even utilized in a beer based on the recipe derived from the beverage residue found in King Midas’s tomb.

There are hundreds of varieties and some form of the ubiquitous Muscat is found in nearly every one of the world’s wine producing regions. Some of the more commonly known are:
Muscat Canelli….the principal grape of the great wines of Italy’s Piedmont region: Asti Spumanti and Moscasto d’Asti
Black and Orange Muscat…utilized heavily in the Muscat wines found in California.
Moscatel…found in dessert and fortified wines from Spain and Portugal and one of the three grape varietals allowed in the production of Sherry.

The characteristic signatures of Muscat wines are floral aromas that can range from delicate white flowers to heavy perfumed roses and fruit flavors that range from melons and stone fruits to raisins. From light aperitifs to brandy type fortified wines in Chile and Greece to aged dessert wines in Australia, the Muscat grape offers a world of refreshing sweetness to explore. Here are just a few of The Wine Guy’s favorites as recommendations for you try as you explore this wonderful grape:

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti: this renown Italian producer utilizes single vineyard grapes from vines that average 25 years or more in age to produce this frizzante with a floral nose and a delicate sherbert-like quality.

Sarraco Moscato d’Asti: The Sarraco family has a four-generation history and Paolo Sarraco is known throughout the Piedmont as the “Maestro of Moscato”. The delicate floral aromas and significant peach and pear flavors of this wine DO improve with age and it represents one of the best values ever found in Moscato d’Asti.

Quadry Electra Moscato: Andy and Laurel Quadry first cut their teeth in winemaking in the 1970’s and only began their first forays into producing Moscato in the 1980’s. The 2009 International Wine and Spirit Competition in London named Quadry the best winery in California. Electra is a light and crisp delight with peachy melon tones and flavors.

Quadry Essencia: Another delight from Quadry’s central valley facility in Madera, this moscato is noted for its deeper color and definite hint of orange peel in the bouquet.

Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat: Yalumba is Australia’s largest and oldest family-owned winery and has made a name for itself producing great Viognier, Shiraz and Port. Their non-vintage Muscat is made from red and pink shoots of several Muscat varieties. Yalumba will blend well-aged old wine with young and then fortify with natural grape spirits to produce what I believe is one of the world’s best values in a dessert wine. It has a deep, tawny amber color, and a classic perfumed aroma of orange peel with a hint of ginger. Its definite raisin quality is accented with a roasted nuttiness and hint of lemon. Robert Parker rated this nicely complex beauty at 97 points in 2007. It’s not to be missed if you’re a lover of good dessert wine.

A special note for readers who also enjoy a good beer now and then:

Dogfish Head Midas Touch: One of the founders of this Maryland based craft brewery is also an archeologist. They utilized Muscat grapes in crafting this beer based on the recipe derived from the aforementioned King Midas tomb residues. It is uniquely refreshing, sweet-yet dry ale with touches of melon-like fruit, honey and saffron. A unique and enjoyable quaff!

And finally, a note of caution for your exploration:

Muscadet wine from France does NOT utilize the Muscat grape. As with all AOC French wine, its name derives from the producing region and not the grapes. The informing grape here is Melon de Bourgogne and it has characteristics that are very different from the Muscat. It’s a worthy subject but for a different kind of wine experience.

As always, your comments and inquiries are always welcome utilizing the comment feature here on Roger’s Grapevine or by emailing the author: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com

Explore the wonders of the Muscat grape and enjoy a little sweetness in life!

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