by Fred McMillin
for February 3, 1998

A Musqué to Remember


Musqué is a French term meaning both perfumed and muscat-like. A Musqué mutation may add to the variety's own characteristics a scent reminiscent of Muscat.

...The Oxford Companion to Wine

The Cain Vineyard [Sauvignon Blanc] Musqué is very distinctive. It couples grapefruit with more than just a little oak. Grass aromas are cut with lots of floral accents from the relatively rare Musqué clone of Sauvignon Blanc used entirely for this wine.

...by Peter Kay in "Smart Wine"

The Rest of the Story

Question: How do you grow an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc in Cabernet Country, in your mountain vineyard high above the Napa Valley floor? Answer: You don't. Your grapes come from a special vineyard in Monterey which has been massaging those balky Blanc clones for years. Cain winemaker Chis Howell is sure he's now buying the right one. So is the "Wine Enthusiast" that recently gave his 1995 Musqué a 90 rating along with comments like "crisp, clean aromas and delicious, zesty fruit flavors."

The Wine

1996 Cain Musqué
100% Musqué Clone of Sauvignon Blanc
Contact—Kerry Manahan-Ehlow, (707) 963-1616
Tasting Notes—If you are genuinely interested in California whites, then you have no choice but to try this one, since it is unique. There's no excessive oak and such delicate herbs some of your friends will guess it's a classy Chardonnay...at least, mine did.

Postscript -Whence the Musqué clone?

It comes from a special section of one of the best experimental vineyards in California, Doug Meador's Ventana Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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