Production Notes: Unfined, unfiltered, dry-hopped, carbonated.
Personal Notes: Muscat Canelli is a rare sight here in Napa Valley, so I was pretty darn excited to find some being planted in Calistoga north of town off of Tubbs Lane. Making this wine ended up being a bit of an adventure. Somehow the season got the best of us, and when we thought we were picking at a responsible 23.5 brix on September 16, 2019, we ended up picking closer to 27 brix. Hence, the 16.6% ABV!
Then, pressing the juice out of these grapes was another story. These grapes have a sturdy structure, and they don’t like to give up their juices easily. A gentle press cycle liberated a very small amount of juice, so we ended up having to start out with a lot of pressure to break open the berry, then a gentle pressures to extract the juices. Then we found our drain channels were all plugged up with gummy matter from the grape pulp. For those brewers out there, I’d compare Muscat Canelli to rye malt, another favorite of mine possibly because it’s a pain to work with.
When we started to plan what we were going to do with this floral, tropical, juicy wine, there was a quality that reminded me a bit of an IPA. Then I thought “Wouldn’t it be fun to work with a brewery to make this into an India Pale Wine?” Sierra Nevada came to mind first, a brewery I’ve been a huge fan of for quite some time. I was very happily surprised when they agreed to it! We worked on a number of dry hopped Muscats, and were all blown away by how the hop varietal changed the wine.
We decided to make 3 different versions to showcase the differences hop varietals can make in wine. “Scarlet” is dry hopped with Cryo Simcoe, a way of processing the hop for a greater amount of lupulin (the “pollen” of the hop) and less vegetative matter. “Touch” is dry hopped with whole cone Cascade, a hop made famous by Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. “Fire” combines Cascade and Simcoe, plus whole cone Citra, which all play so well together. I’d tell you the differences I taste in these wines, but I’d hate to spoil the fun that you’ll have in picking them out. — Patrick Rue
The Name: Our friend Terence Sullivan at Sierra Nevada is a proud Deadhead and helped us with naming this one. While the popular one-two punch of Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain (or the shorthand, Scarlet > Fire) is widely familiar, the Grateful Dead snuck their new song Touch of Grey into the middle of the suite just twice ever, making it a rare treat. Terence was fortunate enough to be at one of those shows, a barn-burner at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on 7/13/1984. Lucky for you all, we made more than two 4-packs of this jam.
A huge THANK YOU!!! to Terence Sullivan, Isaiah Mangold, James Conery and Chris Walters at Sierra Nevada for being so great to partner with on this fun wine.