October 2010, I’m up in the dusty eves of one of All Saints large tin sheds, it’s pushing the high 20s and it’s still early spring. There’s a mess of differently sized ancient barrels stacked three or four high. Dan Crane is piping viscous deep glowing ochre liquid into our glasses. It’s immensely powerful, aromatic, nutty, figgy, but with a slight earthiness, maybe some black tea like notes, definitely perfumed.
March 2012, I’m in a smart Parisian Chinese restaurant, there are immaculately suited waiters fritting around. Luc de Contiis pouring me a glass of a lightly yellow golden wine, it’s intriguing an almost mandarin flower like note on the nose, floral but a little restrained on the palette it’s minerally with an almost saline like edge, again not flashy but with lovely persistence and a quivering liveliness that sets the palette off.
So why mention the two together? Well each in their different way they’re examples of the pinnacle of Muscadelle. Derided in Bordeaux as a nothing varietal, occasionally added to dry white blends to add a little florality, but allowed no more than a mere sideline presence. Misidentified in the Rutherglen until 1979 when it’s real identity was gleamed from beneath its Tokay moniker.
Luc de Conti from Domaine Tour des Gendres professes to love the variety, so much that he makes his Conti-Ne Perigourdine Bergerac Sec from about 95% Muscadelle, but he says it’s difficult to grow, compared to Sauvignon or Semillon it’s a truculent child in the vineyard, reluctant to show its true charms. In Australia it owes it’s current status to Colin Campbell who pretty much single handedly dragged the reputation of Rutherglens stickies out of the doldrums, but even there it’s less well known than it’s sibling Muscat.
It might be an underdog but that doesn’t stop me liking it.