Double Winetendre: South Stage Cellars 2009 Early Muscat

Editor's Note: At The Oregon Wine Blog, we're always scouting new talent in the wine blogging world. Really, we just have a lot of friends who like to drink wine and show some interest in writing for the Blog. In that spirit, we bring you this guest post from Clare Cady of the Semi-Urban Homesteader blog. Who knows, she may be our next staff writer.

Just recently my partner Jason and I trekked south to Jacksonville, OR, to visit friends who have a natural building school. Between climbing in the mountains, grinding wheat with a bicycle, and drinking homebrewed beer, we slipped out for lunch and a chance to check out the town. Jacksonville prides itself in its history, so it was only fitting that we stop in at a local landmark. Built in 1865, the then private residence of Patrick Ryan has been host to more local businesses than any other building in town. Currently it is the home of South Stage Cellars, a vineyard-based tasting room and wine garden.

We walked away with a bottle of their 2009 Early Muscat, sold on the promise from the woman in the tasting room that it served both as a delightful dessert wine as well as an aromatic white. It felt like a big claim to me and so was intrigued. I was impressed with the quaint, cozy feel of the tasting room along with the rows of medals and awards that lined the wall behind the bar. The 2008 incarnation of the Early Muscat won Best of Show at the 2009 World of Wine Festival.

We were also excited to see how committed South Stage is to supporting the local economy and community. The grapes come from owners Don and Traute Moore’s vineyard, Quail Run, a local 300 acre operation that utilizes no insecticides and utilizes cover crops as a means to enrich the soils. We noted that there were several events aimed at locals providing discounts and entertainment. Our friend Coenraad had been there just the night before performing at a local’s night.

Some weeks later we decided to give our southern belle a try. A pale straw color, I expected something touted as a potential dessert wine to be more syrupy, but it seemed more like an aromatic in the glass. The nose consisted of honey and a tropical fruitiness that we were initially unable to identify along with hints of clove. I found the taste to be powerfully sweet on the tongue with a slight sparkling texture and a lightly bitter finish, almost like grapefruit. Jason noted that he found a “zing” at the top of his palette that was just as much texture as it was flavor. After exploring this further we decided that this was the tropical fruit we’d gotten on the nose – guava. The whole experience was threaded with the light spiciness of clove that carried through from start to finish.

We decided that the claim that this wine could be either a dessert wine or enjoyed by the glass with food stood up to the test. The Early Muscat provided more than enough complexity and crispness to drink chilled with a citrusy piece of fish or a mild Thai curry. However, its bold sweetness and bitterness would make it an excellent complement to dark chocolate or summer fruits. I definitely enjoyed this versatile wine and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys sweet wine with a kick.