Quady Elysium Black Muscat is a sweet red dessert wine made by Quady Winery in California. Founder Andrew Quady’s change of career from making fireworks to making wine began when he moved to California’s San Joaquin valley in 1975 looking for change in lifestyle whilst studying oenology at UC Davis. He initially started off producing a sweet port-style wine made from Amador County Zinfandel grapes but things really took off when he discovered some Orange Muscat grapes (known in Italy as Moscato Fior d’Arancio) and he began producing the Quady Essencia Orange Muscat. It was an instant success and until 1985 he could not make enough to satisfy demand. Today Quady is the foremost American winery specialising entirely in dessert and fortified wines, as well as some interesting vermouths, and continues to win medals worldwide.
Quady Elysium Black Muscat was first created in 1983 when Andrew acquired a quantity of Black Muscat grapes. The grapes were originally intended to be used for making sacramental wine for a local church but the church ceased operations (some sort of divine intervention on behalf of Quady!). Black Muscat is just one of many underappreciated muscat grape varieties. In Europe it is known as the table grape variety, Muscat Hamburg, and it is one of the very few black skinned muscats.
Quady Elysium Black Muscat is made from 100% Black Muscat and is classified as a Liqueur Wine of USA. It is made a bit like a mistelle such as Pinot des Charentes or Floc de Gasgogne. The grapes for this wine are allowed to ripen fully, when ripened to about 25 brix, it attains a rose-like aroma and lychee like flavour. After harvest the grapes are crushed, chilled and allowed to macerated. Fermentation is then stopped with the addition of wine spirit. This means the sugar is not fermented into alcohol leaving a naturally sweet drink. The addition of alcohol means that the finished wine is usually bottled at around 15% abv.
The rose-like aromas of the wine led to it being named Elysium, Greek for heaven. The label was designed by Andrew’s wife Laurel and the heart was drawn by artist Ardison Phillips.