Friday, October 4, 2019

This Muscat Is No Sweetie

Murrieta's Well Estate Vineyard, in California's Livermore Valley, has a history almost as long and rich as the state of California itself.  The vines of the Murrieta's Well estate were first planted in 1884 by Louis Mel with cuttings from Chateau d'Yquem and Chateau Margaux, says the winery.  Mel sold the property, lock, stock and wine barrel, to Ernest Wente in the 1930s, and it's still part of the Wente Family estate.  Today, winemaker Robbie Meyer personally selects grapes from all over the five hundred acres.

He says there is "nothing quite like growing fruit in the vineyard, caring for it in the winery and crafting it into something people can enjoy."  That something, says Snooth, is food-friendly wine, the stuff of which Meyer prides himself.  Through the growing, the harvesting and the fermentation, Meyer says blending is where he sees the real art of winemaking.

The 2018 Murrieta's Well Dry Orange Muscat is not a dessert wine.  Made from Hayes Vineyard grapes, Meyer says the wine exhibits the wide variety of soils and elevations found in that parcel. The 2018 vintage was warm with no heat spikes, which allowed for a lengthy hang time.  The grapes had plenty of sunshine to bring out their floral aspects.  Meyer says the decision to make a dry wine from Orange Muscat grapes was partially influenced by the fact that the grape variety is typically low-yielding, both in quantity and berry size.  By the way, he says the "orange" in the grape's name comes from its coloring at harvest.  The wine was steel-fermented and aged for three months.  Alcohol is quite ripe at 14.6% abv and the retail price tag reads $38.

This wine has beautiful floral notes, and considering the grape, one might think a dessert wine is in the glass, or maybe an Albariño or Gewurztraminer.  That's not happening, though.  This Orange Muscat is completely dry.  The palate shows lime notes in an orange-laced and wonderfully acidic setting.  Bring on the shellfish.

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