Muscat blanc is not exactly in fashion as a dry table wine, but when made by Hither & Yon’s Richard Leask you’d have to wonder why it’s not in our glasses more often. Picked early to retain freshness, this has some classic floral and talc notes of the variety, but it’s uber-fresh and savoury, light-bodied, tangy and built for thirst-slaking refreshment.
Pale in colour and brisk in profile, this has characteristic exotic perfume that is a feature of muscat varieties, but it’s savoury and taut with it, some green apple, jasmine, with a waft of sea spray underpinning. This is dry and tight, but not mean, with some mandarin peel and orange oil notes, a little pleasantly snappy almost-bitter finish – in a good way – that whips it even further into bright aperitif and food-friendly territory.
Themes of this wine
The muscat grape comes in many forms – some related by name alone – but with all being quite exotically aromatic. Much of it is destined for fortified or sweet wine production, with the typical talc and exotically floral notes unfashionable for dry table wines – though there are some compelling exceptions to this. Emulations of Northern Italy’s Moscato d’Asti have seen the muscat family brought somewhat back into currency in this country, sometimes using the typical muscat blanc à petits grains (moscato bianco) and sometimes other muscat varieties or similarly aromatic ones. Muscat rouge à petits grains (with red-hued berries) is the sole variety used in the production of Rutherglen muscat, one of this country’s greatest wines.
While it couldn’t feel any more removed from city life, the McLaren Vale wine region is inside Adelaide’s metropolitan area. And although the township itself is only 40 minutes by car from central Adelaide and vineyards brush up against ever-encroaching housing, McLaren Vale remains unaffected by the urban sprawl. With deeply etched history, the Vale has a slow-paced sense of calm and an extraordinary wealth of untrammelled beauty. It is home to some of this country’s most beautifully pristine beaches, as well as some of the world’s most forward-thinking grape-growers and winemakers. And with over 80 cellar doors, it is an essential destination for wine lovers – and anyone else, for that matter.