‘Chardonnay Musqué‘ is a name that’s appearing more and more on Ontario wine labels – currently there are at least 3 or 4 available at my nearest Vintages store. “What exactly is Chardonnay Musqué?”, you may be asking. Well, it’s actually a special clone of Chardonnay. The term “musqué” can be applied to certain varieties or clones of grapes that means both “musky” and “Muscat-like” and indicates a perfumed or highly aromatic grape.
There are over 40 different clones of Chardonnay, but only two of these can be called “Musqué” due to their aromatic qualities – Clone 77 and Clone 809. They are generally unoaked in order to preserve the fresh and fragrant aromas natural to the grape. Several Ontario vineyards are now planted with musqué clones and the grapes may be used as either part of a blend or bottled on their own. Generally, these wines are best when consumed relatively young. The aromas of Chardonnay Musqué are reminiscent of Viognier or even Torrontes, and it can be made in a range of styles from dry to a little sweet to quite sweet, sometimes even with a slight spritz. Enjoy a chilled glass of Chardonnay Musqué on a warm spring or summer day, either on its own or pair it with mild curries, sushi, salads, grilled salmon, and seafood.
Several Ontario wineries are using one or both Chardonnay Musqué clones in their wines. 13th Street’s delicious White Palette uses Chardonnay Musqué as part of the blend, while other producers, such as Chateau des Charmes, Cave Spring Cellars, Vineland Estates, Malivoire, Ravine Vineyard, and Fielding Estates, to name a few, prefer to bottle the clone on its own.
A few Ontario Chardonnay Musqués:
Chateau des Charmes 2010 Chardonnay Musqué: Paul Bosc, founder of Chateau des Charmes, chose the particularly fragrant and interesting Clone 809 for his Chardonnay Musqué. The first 2 rows were planted at Chateau des Charmes in 1993, another 2 rows in 1995, and finally a whole block was planted with Clone 809 in 1999. Chateau des Charmes first bottled the clone on its own in very small quantities in 2002. Today, only 500 cases are bottled by the winery annually. The 2010 Chardonnay Musqué has fragrant aromas of honeysuckle, cherry blossoms, grapefruit, and green apple. Dry with crisp citrus, mineral, and spicy notes on the palate with refreshing acidity and a lingering finish. ($16.95) *2012 Ontario Wine Awards Gold Medal Winner in the Unoaked Chardonnay category.*
Cave Spring Cellars 2009 Chardonnay Musqué: This wine is made from 100% Chardonnay Musqué Clone 77, first planted in Cave Spring‘s vineyards in 1984. The first vintage bottled was 1988. The 2009 vintage shows pronounced aromas of orange blossom, melon, honey, grapefruit, and ripe apple. This is a dry wine with zesty acidity and flavours of lemon and grapefruit, peach, and a hint of spice with a lively and refreshing finish. ($15.95)
Vineland Estates 2010 Chardonnay Musqué: Showing floral and ripe tropical fruit aromas, Vineland Estates 2010 Chardonnay Musqué is very reminiscent of Viognier. Loads of lemon and grapefruit zest with soft floral notes, peach and nectarine. Off-dry on the palate, the residual sugar is beautifully balanceed by the ample acidity. Exotic fruit flavours, citrus, and minerals burst on the palate with a pleasantly lingering finish.($17.95)
Malivoire 2010 Musqué Spritz: Made from Clone 809 planted in Malivoire‘s Estate Vineyard in 1999. This wine is Ontario’s version of Italy’s Moscato d’Asti. Sweet melon, grape, peach, and floral aromas dominate the nose. A slight spritz balances the generous dose of residual sugar. Only 9% alcohol. Can be paired with light curries and other slightly spicy dishes, but also has enough sweetness to pair with some fruit-based desserts. ($19.95)