The Nelson Family Vineyards 2007 Orange Muscat is a surprising reminder of what a muscat can become when treated well. And let’s face it, too many winemakers have made a mess of this grape, making wine that is sweet, cloying, thick and generally overdone with no subtle flavors.
Muscat is easy to recognize most of the time. The orange scent wafting from the glass is unmistakable. It’s been said that adding one or two percent muscat to a chardonnay to increase the florals gives you all muscat and no chardonnay.
But this wine is all about the muscat. For starters, it’s been fermented dry, with no residual sugar. The flavor is full and rich in the mouth but not cloying like a cough syrup. If you have been turned off by one of those other “muscats”, the Nelson is worth investigating. One sip may be enough to change your mind. We speak from personal experience.
Talk about letting your wines speak for you! We met Greg and Missy Nelson at the Mendocino Grape Growers event in Santa Rosa last spring, which we attended on a press pass. We enjoyed chatting with Missy, but Greg kind of hung back and didn’t talk too much.
It’s apparently Greg’s style. When Anne emailed him, since that’s whose card we had, his responses were terse, at best. So is the website. That’s fine. The wines are a lot of fun and we’ve got a couple sweeter ones to feature this week.
The Nelsons have been farming in Mendocino County, California, since Greg’s parents moved there in the early 1950s, and Greg has been growing grapes all of his life. According to the website, in addition to grapes, the family grows bartlett pears and Christmas trees. But with 200 acres planted out in 11 different varieties, grapes are a major part of their business, with the line-up including zinfandel, carignane, pinot grigio, cabernet sauvignon, viognier, petite verdot, petite sirah, orange muscat, riesling, and merlot.
Only five percent of their crop ends up in bottles with their family name on it. Greg’s son Chris is the winemaker and according to Greg, it was Chris’s idea to start the winery. This is truly a family business, with Tyler Nelson listed as the vineyard manager.