Saturday, July 31, 2010


Graff Family July Muscat

One of the great thrills of the wine world is discovering a wine which makes me really glad I opened the bottle.  Not just ordinary, everyday glad, but extra-special glad.

The Graff Family of Sonoma makes very limited-production wine, partially as a fundraiser for the Richard H. Graff Scholarship Fund for wine and food education. I opened their dessert wine, July Muscat, and I was glad I did.  Extra-special glad.

I had never heard of July Muscat before, but now know that the grape is a cross of four different Muscat varieties.  The hybrid was developed at UC-Davis in the 1950s.

The grapes for this wine are grown in the Chalone appellation in California's Monterey County.  It's a 100% Muscat wine which is fermented in stainless steel and aged two-thirds in steel, one-third in French oak, 20% of which is new.  The oak-aged wine is in barrels for ten months.

On the label, it's called a “sweet table wine,” and at 11.3% abv and a residual sugar level of 10%, that sounds like a fair description.

Very pale in the glass, the nose of the Graff Family's July Muscat is incredibly floral and drenched in sweet, ripe peaches and apricots.  Apricots dominate the palate and a mild acidity realizes its full potential on the finish.  That finish is a delight, lingering long with traces of fruity sweetness that just don't want to go away.

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