Tasting the vineyard

With Spring around the corner, work in the vineyard will get more intensive and it is time to start thinking of what will come out there, and what wine I can expect. Recently, John, the previous owner of my property, brought me some of the wine he made last year. The bottle he brought was made with the Pearl of Csaba grapes, which I know about nothing about, except that they have low acidity and are more of table grapes than wine, except for making a Muscat type of wine. Since then, I had a conversation with a neighbour, the one who actually planted the grapes many years ago, about it as I had not tasted the wine yet. He was telling me that he found that John’s wine was nothing like Muscat. That got me a bit intrigued, especially since I am not familiar with Muscat wines. So my wife and I decided to open the bottle and try the wine.

Muscat tasting

The first impression was good. John’s wine is quite fragrant. It’s fruity and flowery. That was a good start. Then, a sip on the wine brought more news. A first slightly acidic and tingley feeling on the tongue was not bad. Unfortunately, the feeling disappeared quickly and the wine felt weak and watery. OK, so the wife and I have some mixed feelings and I am wondering if John got the best he could from Pearl of Csaba or not. I hope not because then I have a problem. I know that he made this wine to his own taste. Then, we decided to buy a few bottles of Muscat wines from different regions to have an idea of what they may taste like.

Next to John’s wine, we had an Australian wine, a Californian one and a Moscato d’Asti from Italy and we decided to do a comparative tasting test. We did this in two steps. The first time, we just tasted the wines without any food. The Italian Moscato came out the winner. It has a rich fragrance and a nice body with a sweet fruity taste. The Australian came out quite well, too. We ranked him second. It was different from the Italian as it had some effervescence, which made it quite refreshing. Further, it had a good balance between the fruity fragrance and a sweet body that lasted in the mouth. The Californian wine left us a bit more perplex. It has a nice fragrance but although the taste was sweet, it was a bit watery, too. It felt almost as if the intense sweetness of the sugar was hiding a lack of body. It came third in our ranking. John’s wine unfortunately came out last.

The second step of the tasting was a lot of fun to do. After some research, I found that Muscat wine go well with desserts and in particular chocolate cake. That was good timing as my wife got her birthday and we had chocolate cake to celebrate. So there we went at it again, this time cake and wine together. The experience of the wines came out slightly differently. The Moscato d’Asti came out first but this time, it was more of a photo finish. Although fragrant and fruity, the taste did not last as long in the mouth as when we drank it straight. The Australian Muscat did great and was a very close second. In particular the fragrance together with the effervescence and the chocolate offered a lovely combination. The Californian wine did better with the cake and the pairing was pleasant. Unfortunately for our vineyard, John’s wine ended fourth again and the cake did not bring much improvement to the experience. However, the nice fragrance makes me think that there is potential with the Pearl of Csaba grapes, but I will have to learn more to figure out how to get it up there. My feeling is that the grapes might have been harvested too early. After all, John was selling the property and we were about to move in. I also think that the wine did not ripen long enough. I am looking forward to talk to John again to learn from him about how he harvested and made the wine and to exchange some ideas about how to get it sweeter and with a better body.

The challenge is clear: I will do my very best to make the Pearl of Csaba grapes undergo a Muscat type of winemaking process. The future will tell if I reach that goal.

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