From 100% Orange Muscat with an aroma reminiscent of Orange Blossom and Apricot, and a lingering refreshing aftertaste, Essensia is used as a dessert accompaniment or a dessert in itself. The Orange Muscat grape variety is little known. It was once grown in France and there are some small plantings in Italy and Australia. The wine is lightly fortified to about 15% alcohol and aged for 3 months in French Oak. The wine tastes balanced, like the taste of fresh fruit.
Essensia's vibrant flavor makes it an excellent accompaniment to desserts, particularly chocolate and those containing almonds, peaches, apples, or apricots. It is also used for dipping biscotti, for moistening cakes, or for adding to trifles. With sparkling water, it makes a refreshing spritzer; with sparkling wine it makes Essensia Royale.
Andrew Quady started making wine in the mid 1970's. Working for a major wine company he moonlighted to produce his own ports and in 1980 experimented with Orange Muscat, ultimately making an amazing floral fruit character wine that he called Essensia. In 1990, Quady decided to produce a new type of dessert wine, light, delicate and very refreshing. He tasted Orange Muscat juice as it was turning into wine. When the juice was just on the verge - halfway between wine and grape juice, he bottled a test batch. The wine tasted wonderful, but the alcohol was only 4% (most wines are at least 11%). Using sterile filtration to prevent refermentation, he bottled it anyway and named the new creation Electra.
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
While it tends to be a bit syrupy when chilled, as it warms up it becomes fragrant. This is very good alone or with a sweet, fruity dessert. The apricot notes are bright and the color is as bright as the fruit.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.