by Fred McMillin
for September 24, 1997

A Muscat Aristocrat

Prologue: "Ever since 1888, the fathers of the Novitiate of the Sacred Heart of the Society of Jesus in Los Gatos have grown and produced the finest sacramental wines of California...The most famous of the Novitiate wines is Black Muscat, a unique rich liqueur-type dessert wine of the Muscat Hamburg grape." Robert Lawrence Balzer in "California Wines"

The Rest of the Story: Alas, that famous Black Muscat is no longer available. The Novitiate ceased making wine over a decade ago.

But wait a minute! Rosenblum Cellars tells us they have garnered enough "rare and exotic Black Hamburg grapes from the handful of plantings in California" to turn out a pretty potent dessert wine of their own. It is packed with so much flavor that my tasters were suprised to learn it contains 7% sugar. Serve with sharp cheese on slightly sweet crackers...or top French vanilla ice cream with two tablespoons of the Muscat. It is guaranteed to add some excitement to the end of your meal.

The Wine
1996 Black Muscat, California
Rosenblum Cellars
Alameda, CA
16.8% alcohol
$10 for 375. ml.

Postscript: Not so many years ago, among the novices tending those Jesuit vines was a person who became well-known in another field, former California governor Jerry Brown.

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.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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