Chardonnay musque, recognized by Appellation d’Origine Controlle in France as one of the 34 species of the world famous chardonnay. This specie was unknown in Niagara until 1970’s when Angelo Pavan, the winemaker of Cave Spring Cellars produced a prototype and marketed it successfully. Much later, Prpich Hill Vineyards (now Blasted Church Vineyards near Okanagan Falls in British Columbia) planted a few rows.
Chardonnay musque is more aromatic and “muscaty” than standard fruit in its youth but loses the aroma over time. Chardonnay musque’s muscat-like aromas fascinate some consumers, and win prestigious awards because of this aroma profile
Generally chardonnay is a “neutral tasting” grape and needs knowledgeable and successful intervention of the winemaker to give it “direction”.
Some use specially created yeasts, others ferment the must in barrels, yet others age it in French (Allier, Vosges, Jupille) and American white oak barrels and blend.
Some ferment it in stainless steel tanks and simply age it in American oak barrels (they smell of vanilla, are darker in colour and coarse in texture than those aged in French oak. This is due to the grain of the wood), and some winemakers market un-oaked chardonnay.
Regardless of technique, North Americans have an unexplainable affair with chardonnay.
In blind tastings between sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and riesling wines the latter wins most of the time!
Cluster thinning of chardonnay musque exhibit greater depth and colour, sweetness, more herbal/grassy flavours, intensity, and less tropical fruit aromas than wines derived from leaf removed vines.