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VOL. 126 | NO. 168 | Monday, August 29, 2011



Lively Muscat Boasts Alluring Bouquet, Taste

Fredric Koeppel

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The alternatives to the ubiquitous chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio continue to expand as wine made from once unfamiliar grapes from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe and South America reach our shores. Albariño and verdelho, vermentino and falanghina, furmint and grüner veltiner and torrontès all help to ease the boredom our palates feel from a steady diet of The Chard, S.B. and P.G.

FOR YOUR VERY  OWN BOTTLE

Joe’s Wines & Liquors
1681 Poplar Ave., $19
Wine Market
4734 Spottswood Ave., $19
Poplar Wine & Spirits
2136 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, $19

Recently I encountered a delightful wine that while made from a widely planted grape was produced in a rare dry style. Muscat is, in fact, the oldest and one of the most widely cultivated white grapes on the planet, but it is typically made into a sweet wine. One of those sweet wines is the delicate, highly scented Beaumes de Venise, named for a tiny village in the southern Rhône Valley. The grape is the muscat blanc à petits grains, the best of the muscat grapes, which also can be made into a dry wine of singular character.

The Doré des Bernardins Muscat Petits Grains 2010, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, from a sixth-generation property just outside Beaumes de Venise, displays a pale, slightly tarnished silvery gold color. The bouquet is a finespun and slightly exotic wreathing of pears, quince and ginger that bear whiffs of lilac and honeysuckle, a touch of almond skin and a light resinous cast of cedar and pine. The wine is bone-dry but not aggressively austere; crisp, vibrant acidity lends liveliness and allure to flavors of roasted lemon and lemon verbena, a bit of spiced pear, all presented in a spare, subtle, almost gauzy package. We loved this with a pasta dish that included zucchini, squash blossoms, basil oil and homemade ricotta.

For more about wine, check out Koeppel’s blog at www.biggerthanyourhead.net.

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