Muscat Blanc is a somewhat unusual grape variety because of the intensity of its aromas; when walking through our vineyard prior to harvest, the grapes are so aromatic that Muscat's floral scent literally fills the air. Pliny the Elder referred to Muscat as the “grape of the bees” because of their attraction to the grape's intense aromas. In California, Yellowjacket wasps, as well as bees and other insects, are attracted to Muscat; however, unlike most bees, wasps become unusually aggressive in autumn increasing the likelihood of being stung when harvesting Muscat fruit. Wasps aren't active at night so this is the one grape variety at Navarro that our crew almost insists on harvesting at night. French ampelographies have noted the grape's perfumed aromas and refer to it as musqué
. (Musk is a class of aromatic compounds used as base notes in perfumery.)
Josephina Eligio managing the filling machine when bottling Muscat. Bottled wine which is left in the sun, or under fluorescent lights, can become light-struck, which affects aromas and flavors negatively. The dark brown bottles that we use for our aromatic white wines have the highest UV light filtering capability.
Head suckering Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains vines in the morning. The leaf has an overlapping petiolar sinus with a sharp sawtooth margin making it easy to identify the vine at Navarro. Summer mornings in Philo are typically foggy which is easy to see in this photo as the leaves drip water.
There's no doubt that Muscat's bouquet is sensual and Navarro's regime of sur lie aging plays up this flirtatious element. It turns out there are also musqué clones of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc with aromatic properties similar to Muscat; these are genetic mutations of regular, non-muscaty clones of these two varieties. Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is a late ripener and in Philo's cool climate this guarantees high acidity and low pH when the fruit is ripe. This refreshing acidity, Muscat's springtime perfume and the dry, crisp finish make it a perfect complement with asparagus, pungent cheeses, seafood salads and even sushi. Gold Medal winner.