In the first part of the Battle of the Texas wine Orange Muscats blind taste test, I described how we held our blind taste test and the wines which were included. Now it’s time for the results!
As a reminder, we had eight Texas wine Orange Muscats and as a test, we included a California Orange Muscat too just to see what people would prefer. I didn’t specify the California wine before so it was a Quady Winery 2010 Electra Orange Muscat. It has won various gold and silver medals so it is well liked out in the public.
We finished rating the ten wines including the French Muscat which Russ Kane brought so it was time to add up our scores and see what the group’s top favorite wines were. One of the people in the group volunteered to be our scorer and we gave our scores for each wine to him. He produced a total score for each wine. We could have divided the total by the eight people participating but it would have produced the same result to determine the order of ranking. It was mentioned in other similar tests, the high score and low score are thrown out and the middle scores averaged. I crunched the numbers by doing that method later and the results were the same except for the two wines ranked at the bottom.
Now with the tasting done, conversation ensued. The one thing people were amazed about was even though all the wines were made from the Orange Muscat grape, they all looked and tasted differently. Explanations can be made to this because of different vineyards and vintages. Even with wines from the same vineyard, the difference can come from the winemaker. It shows again the variety of wines made and how some people prefer one wine over another.
We discussed the French wine made from Muscat grapes and the first comment made, which most people agreed with, was it tasted more like alcohol with a whiskey-type flavor with a darker color. This brought the first comment from someone where they said they did not like the wine but they would recommend it to other people who would like the whiskey-type flavor. Others agreed there were circumstances which could occur where they did not like the wine but they would still recommend it. Perhaps in the future we should re-word the second question asked of people, since in this one case the person did not like the wine but they gave it a 10 because they would recommend it to a friend. Looking through the tasting sheets, this was the only wine which really gave a high score with a “No”, so that did not influence the rankings for the rest of the wines.
It was time for the unveiling of the wines to see which ones we had rated and provided tasting notes for. During the tasting, three of us who have had the Duchman Family Winery Orange Muscat before knew “for sure” when we tasted it. We were shocked when the bottles were unveiled and the one we thought was the Duchman wine turned out to be another one. This shows either we really don’t have a good memory or a blind tasting really does eliminate any preconceived notions.
Note: Before I give the results, please realize this is a sampling from eight people, obviously a much smaller percentage than the rest of the wine drinkers out there.
I will only give the top three ranked wines but since we put the California Orange Muscat in the blind taste test, let me tell you how that did. I was a little concerned when adding the wine since in some people’s minds, California makes the best domestic wine and Texas makes horrible wine. Since I just told you I was going to tell you the top three ranked wines, that shows the California wine did not make the top three. In fact it was dead last! It was unanimous when tasting this wine it was not preferred, and all scores except for one ranked it from 0-2.
Now we’re down to the top three Texas wine Orange Muscats.
Coming in at third place is (drum roll please): Fredericksburg Winery 2010 Diamante Doble Vineyards Orange Muscat. Notes from tasters included: light straw color, citrus fruity taste, good acidity, and short finish.
Second favorite wine was: Duchman Family Winery 2009 Orange Muscat. Notes from tasters included: light amber color, definite orange aroma, moderate peppy lingers on mid/back of tongue, lingering fruity taste, good acid balance, and first impressions…”Yes! Yes! Yes!”
Duchman Family Winery’s notes are: Our first ever true dessert wine is exemplified by the 2009 Duchman Family Winery Orange Muscat. A full bodied sweet white wine, the 2009 Orange Muscat shows intense aromatics of baked peach and blood orange that jump out of the glass. With a honey like quality, this wine coats the palate with a delicious flavor profile of baked citrus fruits, stone fruits and sweet flowers. Rich and layered in character this wine is the perfect pairing with rich desserts or in some cases as dessert on its own.
And finally the preferred Texas wine Orange Muscat was: Cap*Rock Orange Muscat. Tasting notes included: light straw color, cool light fragrance, sweet and cool tingling tongue on sides, intense flavor, and luscious.
Cap*Rock Winery’s notes are: The orange in this Orange Muscat is immediately apparent on the nose and on the palate. The balance between the sweetness and the acidity makes this one of our best loved wines. Try this with soft cheeses, creamy desserts, or for a decadent delight, pair this with chocolate.
To no surprise, Cap*Rock Winery’s notes were correct in that it was one of the best loved wines. The Duchman Family Winery’s Orange Muscat was not far behind in second place and the good thing is both of these wines should be readily available for you to buy.
The blind taste test was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun! Some of us who did it agreed it was a great time, and perhaps you may read about other tests in the future.
Russ Kane says
Great job (or in Tweet-speak…gr8 job) Jeff. This was an excellent tasting because it was both fun and educational. The top three wines that you feature were all first rate.
I think that CapRock will be very happy with the results since they are working their way back into the marketplace. Good new for Fredericksburg Winery. They are definitely the sweet-meisters of Texas and this wine does them proud.
Just to clarify the background on the Baumes de Venise…the “whiskey flavor” comes from the fortification of the wine to 15% alcohol using grape spirits (brandy). The method of making this wine goes back over a 1000 years. It is fermented to only a few to 5 percent alcohol after which the brandy is added to hault fermentation, despite the available (residual) sugar, and to preserve the wine.
Again, Great job Jeff….way to go.
Russ Kane says
Your blog post got me thinking. What is the real varietal name of Orange Muscat? I found some interesting factoids:
1. Orange Muscat is a white grape variety, used in North Eastern Victoria. There is some disagreement about whether it really is closely related to the other Muscat grape varieties.
2. Orange Muscat is belived to have originated in France or Italy but it is seems it used now only in Australia and in small acreages in California.
3. the Orange Muscat grape, a darker skinned mutation of the Muscat Frontignan clone, (the latter also known as the Brown Frontignac in Australia)
4. Synonyms: Orange Muscat/Muscat fleur d’orange B
Since Muscat de Beaumes de Venise is a fortified wine, not surprising that you got the reactions you did.
“Muskrat” however, is one of my all time favorites for dessert.
Bruce Anderson says
This was a battle of SOME Texas Orange Muscats. We have produced Orange Muscat wines at Sunset Winery since 2004, and for whatever reason we were not invited to submit our wine to this “battle.” No problem with that just wanted to make sure that readers know that it was not an all incluive tasting. Readers might also be interested in the selection criteria.
Regardng the name of the grape: Jancis Robinson’s “Guide to Wine Grapes” devoted 2.5 pages to this variety and its relatives. My understanding is that there are a number of grapes that share a common compound that differentiates them from other varieties. That compound is variously known as linalool or linalol, colorless and fragrant [C10H18O]. The aroma is distinctive — and also found in Earl Grey’s Tea.
Here in Texas, Muscat Canelli and Orange Muscat seem to be the predominant varieties grown in this family of grapes. By my taste the Orange Muscat wines seem to have a clearly orange flavor, whereas the Muscat Canelli wine tends to have grapfruit overtones. Most Texas wineries use these varieties to make dessert wines, though we purchased a delightful dry Orange Muscat from Fredericksburg winery some years ago.
Sunset Winery — Burleson, Texas
Jeff Cope says
Bruce, thanks for your comments. Your 2005 Orange Muscat was included in the blind taste test. Please see the previous post which describes how we came up with the idea and all the wines included. I could not find a more recent version of your wine and your website lists the 2005 as the latest. There were no invitations to this blind taste test, just me trying to find all which are made in Texas.
Thanks for the additional information about the Orange Muscat grape. We look forward to seeing you again when we visit your winery this summer!
Bobby Cox says
General Viticulture gives the sym. of Muscato fior d’arancio for Orange Muscat. The variety is quite different from Muscat Canelli in its viticultual character. They must be farmed differently and do not look alike. The wines are very different and some Texas winemakers will not accept Orange Muscat (they were trained in CA), oh well their loss our gain! There is very aggressive new planting going on on The High Plains. Many more Orange Muscats will be made soon!
Thank you for this info!