Joullian Muscat Hamburg Family Reserve 2014, 375ml, Carmel Valley, California

Black Muscat Hamburg, besides being one of Europe’s favorite table grapes, has produced aromatic dessert wines for centuries. Joullian planted it for table grapes in 1984, and grafted 1/4 acre over to the variety in 2001 for wine production. The goal has been to produce relatively low alcohol (11-13%), crisp, moderately sweet dessert wines that compliment, rather than dominate fine desserts – especially chocolate. The Muscat is cold fermented with Sauternes yeast for 8 days and chilled the fermenter to 35° F to stop the fermentation at 6% residual sugar to balance the acidity. For roundness, the wine was barrel aged in the cold cellar (to avoid re-fermentation) before the blend was bottled. Tasting notes: Medium garnet with pink rim. Ripe, floral, spicy Muscat, cinnamon, red licorice, and cherry aromas explode out of the glass. Rich, balanced, moderately sweet Muscat, black cherry, cola, and cinnamon flavors are balanced by crisp acidity and light tannins that cleanse the palate and accentuate the cocoa finish in fine chocolate desserts.