The third Thursday of November marks the release of Beaujolais nouveau, a newly made wine which has just finished fermenting. There is quite a bit of tradition surrounding this event, which has been going on since the 1950’s – the Wikipedia article about it can be found here.
The wine producers in our area thought that the idea of vin nouveau would be too good an opportunity to miss, so several producers offer a vin nouveau or a vin primeur, two names for the essentially the same product: newly made wines which are bottled and sold shortly after the wine has finished fermenting. These wines are usually characterised as being light, fruity and easy to drink, preferably slightly chilled. It’s a real treat if paired with roasted chestnuts!
This year, I found that the cooperative winery in Saint-Jean de Minervois was doing their version of the vin nouveau, offering a Muscat de Noel, a Christmas muscat!
I had to make a trip to Saint-Jean and try the muscat for myself, purely in the interest of research, you understand! 😉
The day I visited the winery, the space out front was stacked with pallets of empty bottles! All of these would be filled up in due course!
The Muscat de Noel is the first muscat to be drawn off and bottled from this year’s vintage. I tasted it in tandem with another muscat from the winery in Saint-Jean, Eclat Blanc, which the lady behind the counter told me was the closest equivalent. The comparison was very interesting, with some marked differences between the two wines. The Muscat de Noel had a much fruitier taste and a lovely smell (nose) of pineapple. It tasted as though there was not much alcohol in it, even though it packs a punch with 15.5% alcohol, and it was far too easy to drink! 🙂 The Eclat Blanc muscat was a very elegant wine, with a very good balance between fruitiness and acidity. The alcohol content was the same, but somewhat more in evidence!
A sweet Muscat de Saint-Jean de Minervois wine is ideal as an aperitif before the start of a meal, with foie gras (duck or goose liver pate), or with some nice blue cheese such as Roquefort. It can also be used in cooking – I made a very delicious flan, which was flavoured with muscat!
Do you enjoy muscat wine? What is your favourite food to pair with muscat wine?