Friday, November 8, 2013

A Pleasant Surprise - Muscat Ottonel

1469.  2011 Hillside Muscat Ottonel (VQA Okanagan Valley)

I took a look back to see how many vintages of this wine had already been added to The List and I was quite surprised to find out that were none. I say "surprised" because Boo has always had a soft spot for this wine since he says it reminds him of some of the Muscadine wines he grew up with in the American South.

The grapes have nothing to do with each other but, you know, Muscat Muscadine. Fruity, white wine that tends to carry some residual sugar. His mind just works like that.

In any event, there's an added bonus to this surprise in that I haven't added the Muscat Ottonel grape to my Wine Century Club tally either. With this "new" variety to add, I'm now hitting 165. I may hit my "doppel" membership yet.

As you might guess, Muscat Ottonel isn't the most common of grapes grown. In fact, a number of sites advise that Hillside is the only Okanagan winery producing a Muscat Ottonel wine. Hillside definitely appears to have the only varietal wine made with the grape. If anyone else is using it, they must be putting it into blends.

The grape does, however, merit a page in Jancis Robinson's (et al) tome, Wine Grapes, where it is noted that the grape is a cross of Chasselas and Muscat d'Eisenstadt (not that I've ever heard of the latter). The book also points out that wines made with Muscat Ottonel are best known from Alsace and Eastern Europe, particularly Hungary and Romania. This last fact may explain the grape's appearance in the Okanagan since the original owners of Hillside were Czech immigrants Vera and Bohumir Klokocka.

Interestingly enough, Muscat Ottonel was the first variety planted at the Hillside farm in the mid -1980's and the varietal wine has been somewhat of signature grape for Hillside ever since it was the first winery to open on Naramata Road back in 1990. Cult status for the wine or not, production is limited. Only 781 cases were produced with this 2011 vintage and the wine goes quickly for such an uncommon grape.

Muscat Ottonel is known for its delicate profile and I think I'll just go with a quote from Daenna Van Mulligen's Wine Scores site where she writes, "It's a wonderfully scented white, which you may want to wear as a perfume, but it tasted too good to waste." Virtually every reference or review of the wine says that it pairs perfectly with Thai food - particularly if there's a bit of bite to the dishes. It worked equally as well with our mussels - and knowing of the wine's tendency to show a bit of sweet, it allowed me to jack up the heat on the mussels.

Gotta love a wine that let's you jack up the heat so as to compliment the wine.

Now I just have to figure out why the wine hasn't made it to The List previously.

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