Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Muscat Love

It's true, though: I do love muscats.

There are a lot of wine drinkers out there who don't like sweet wine. There are also a lot of wine drinkers out there who ONLY like sweet wine. Whatever pleases your palate is alright by me, but personally, I just like good wine. Sweet, dry, red, white, sparkling, still ... it all depends on too many variables like the weather, my mood, the meal.  Tonight, the meal was past, the weather was gloomy, and the mood was relaxed, so the fella and I popped open a bottle I've been dying to try: the 2008 Saint Supery Muscato.

Muscat's a fun little grape. We (wine geeks) presume it to be the oldest cultivated variety of wine grape (vitis vinifera). We presume this because of the staggering number of different types of muscat - over 150 have been identified by Pierre Galet, world-renowned ampelographer (botanist who identifies and classifies grapevines - seriously, that's a thing). Its many varieties, from black to orange and everything in between, are used in dessert wines - and table wines as well - the world over. In Australia, R.L. Buller and Sons make a solera-aged version that tastes like a tawny sherry's sticky lollipop. It's astounding. In Italy, it's most well known as Moscato d'Asti, a low-alcohol frizzante quaff from the Piedmont region. It's custom there to buy your friend a round of Moscato d'Asti when you meet in the street. We should adopt this custom here in the states.

Saint Supery's version, from the Rutherford area of California's Napa Valley, is done in the American style - slightly sweet, still apertif wine bottled in 375ml portions. At only 9.6% alcohol, I'm expecting it to be rather on the sweet side, but not too heavy. It's a beautiful pale gold in the glass.

The nose entices with thick, seductive aromas of cantaloupe and lychee, honey and spice. The first sip delivers an intense explosion of the same, with threads of cinnamony peach cobbler, rose, and white tea. My expectation turns out to be true - this is rather on the sweet side. Quite a bit on the sweet side, actually. It's very, very sweet. The residual sugar level is not betrayed on the label, but comparing it to a wine I know to be 7% I'd put this one at around 8%. There's a nicely lilting acidity to the finish, though. Not enough to be quite a "tang," but just enough to lighten the impact of this sugar-bomb and keep it from being cloying or syrupy.

Mmmm, yeah this is nice. I wish I had some cheese.

Date: 8/31/2010
Wine: Saint Supery Moscato
Grapes: Moscato
Vintage: 2008
ABV: 9.6%
Origin: Rutherford, Napa Valley, California
Color: pale gold
Nose: cantaloupe, lychee, honey, spice
Palate: cantaloupe, lychee, peach cobbler, cinnamon, rose, white tea
Price: $8 (375 ml)

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