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02.26.2004

2000 Ferrari-Carano "Eldorado Noir" Black Muscat, Sonoma

I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of dessert wines. I find the majority of them far too sweet and cloying " small syrup bombs that are the last thing I need after, let alone during, a nicely prepared dessert. However, after the recent discovery of dessert wines made from Jurancon, I'm holding a out a little hope that I may occasionally find one which does what its supposed to " make me enjoy dessert even more. It was with that small hope that I ordered Ferrari-Carano's "Eldorado Noir" Black Muscat the other night after dinner. I had never heard of a Black Muscat and thought, "what the heck."

The winemaker says:

"Here is a truly unique dessert wine, made from black Muscat grapes grown in our Russian River vineyard. As the grapes ripen slowly in the cool, foggy climate, they reach their full flavor maturity much later than other varieties of grapes. Made only in years when weather conditions permit, this delicious wine is intensely aromatic and fresh and clean in its flavors. A surprise dessert wine to delight everyone's palate."

It turns out that there's a good reason (sort of) that I haven't ever heard of Black Muscat, and that's because there really isn't any such thing. A quick journey to the Oxford Companion to Wine reveals that while there are a few varieties of related Muscat grapes, none of them is Black Muscat. However, the oldest and finest of the Muscat varietes, Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains in different strains, produces berries that range from pink to 'black.' The Companion goes on to say, "...the dark berries are not so deeply pigmented that they can produce a proper red wine," which is interesting because the Eldorado is certainly a nice shade of purple.

Tasting Notes:
God would I love to have this wine in a brandy snifter. Even out of the tiny port glass I had, it exploded with strawberry, loganberry, blueberry and chocolate aromas. The dark viscous purple flowed over the tongue with flavors of blueberries, molasses, vanilla and caramel. Best of all, it wasn't too sweet " the flavors tasted natural and expressive, rather than being overly distilled.

Food Pairing
After having this with a dark black chocolate bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce I can hardly think of something better. Give it chocolate, whatever you do.

Overall score: 9

How much?: $25 for a half bottle.

This wine can be purchased on the winery's web site and presumably elsewhere.

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