Sweet wines are made in several ways. One method entails manipulating the fermentation so that residual grape sugars remain in the wine. The most common ways of arresting fermentation are by chilling the wine so the yeast die (Asti Spumante) or by adding alcohol, leaving a blend of wine, unfermented grape juice and added grape spirit (Beaumes de Venise.) But predating these human tinkerings, vintners used nature to concentrate the sugars so that the yeast would give up naturally before all the grape sugars were consumed. In arid climates grapes are harvested then allowed to raisin (Vin Santo) but in Anderson Valley and the cooler parts of Europe there is a special noble rot, called botrytis cinerea, that shrivels the grapes and concentrates the sugars (Sauternes or Trockenbeerenauslese.) Muscat's honeyed heady perfume will leave you weak in the knees but the bracing acidity will revive you. Gold Medal winner. Best of Show.
We released our first dry Muscat in 1986, but we have only been able to produce two vintages of botrytized cluster select Muscat in the past 20 years: 1997 and 2005. Once per decade is a rare event, even by standards in Alsace.