Monday, December 13, 2010

A Scuppernong Trimming

Boo and I have finally gotten around to trimming our Christmas tree. Naturally, it only makes sense for us to have a little something to sip on between hanging baubles and balls. I figure our choice for the evening is fitting as well in that it came as part of a care package from Boo's twin in North Carolina - sort of an early Christmas present if you will.

HDR3 found it somewhat unbelievable when I asked him if he could corral some local wines from his neck of the woods. Apparently, North Carolina is not a particularly well known wine destination. There's no doubt that the good ol' boys enjoy their libations of choice. They just don't tend to open the local wine so much.

No problem trying the wine here though.

669. N.V. Duplin Scuppernong (North Carolina - US)

I didn't really know what to expect when we opened the bottle. Scuppernong isn't exactly a varietal of grape that I'm familiar with. Boo was bang on excited about the bottle though - the visions running through his head may have been of old memories growing up as opposed to sugarplums. But the sugarplum fairy definitely present as there was plenty of sweet to this off dry wine. I wouldn't say that it has nearly the complexity of a good icewine or late harvest wine from our Northern climes, but the bottle was definitely finished before the tree was.

When looking up a bit about the grape and the winery, I was quite intrigued by all the information. The Scuppernong grape is a large varietal of the Muscadine family - which itself is a different genus from the standard vitus vinerfera varietals that we generally see when drinking wines. It's often referred to as the "big white grape" and grows in small bunches of only three to five large grapes. It was named after the Scuppernong River in North Carolina and is native to the South East U.S. It's also said to be the first grape to be actively cultivated in the U.S. and there are historical references tying it to the region from the 1500's when it was found growing wild. Interestingly, in 1840, the Federal Census named North Carolina as the top wine producer in the U.S. It apparently remained as such until Prohibition was introduced. I don't think that California has anything to worry about currently though.

The Scuppernong grape is the official state fruit of North Carolina and it is mentioned in the official state toast - "...Here's to the land of the cotton bloom white, Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night..." I don't know if British Columbia or Canada have official toasts, but I think I'll have to check that out. The winery's website also states that, in days past, "no plantation dinner would have been complete without this sweet wine."

Speaking of the winery, the grape may have been around for centuries, but Duplin's roots are more recent, having been started up in the 1970's. Originally, the vineyards were planted for table grapes; however, a move to wine was necessitated when the market price for table grapes plummeted by more than half. Despite some desperate years, Duplin is now the largest winery in the South and it produces around 300,000 cases of wine annually. It claims to be the largest producer of Muscadine wines in the world.

A successful evening I'd say. Boo got his Scuppernong, I got a new varietal for my Wine Century Club application and the house got a trimmed tree.

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