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holyfieldMuscat is a family of vinifera grape varieties that represent some of the oldest and most widely planted varieties in the world. In France it can make very serious dessert wines; in Italy it typically makes the frothy, profoundly unserious Moscato that in recent years has exploded in popularity. But the Muscat vines will not survive severe winter cold.  So the wine cultivar wizards at Cornell University set about creating a hybrid with the intense aromatics of white Muscat and the cold-hardiness and disease resistance of native American varietals. The result is Valvin Muscat, released for commercial use in 2006 and beginning to appear in tasting rooms in the Midwest. Holy-Field’s co-owner and winemaker Michelle Meyer was quite excited by Valvin Muscat’s potential when I visited her tasting room near Kansas City. I share her enthusiasm.

A semi-sweet, white, still wine with explosive floral aromas and Mandarin orange, it also shows prominent pine notes, against a background of apricot and ginger. The palate adds grapefruit to the mix with persistent, stony, minerality kicking in midpalate. Plump and charming with a full, round body and short, lush finish, it has a relaxed, tranquil demeanor with ample but static acidity.

Although ostensibly a light, summer sipper, it trembles on the edge of being a more serious wine than is typical of much domestic Muscat with plenty of complexity and intensity needing only some kinetic energy to achieve its potential.

Pair with the vivid nonchalance of Cibelle’s Um Só Segundo

Score: 88

Price: about $17

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