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New Reviews: Quady

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Back in the day I used to taste a lot of Quady. It’s been a few years now, and it’s good to see they’re right on course. Quady got their start in the late 1970s when they began specializing in the fairly arcane area of sweet dessert wines. They’re still at it. I’ve always had a soft spot for underdog wineries, of which Quady is certainly one: Americans aren’t drinking many dessert wines these days, for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, Quady persists, and more power to them. These are wonderful wines; the whites in particular are very low in alcohol and delicious.

NOTE ON THE 3 ELECTRA MOSCATOS: I enjoyed these on their own, but I also tried adding some sliced ripe strawberries, and some good sparkling water, along with a couple ice cubes. Very refreshing!

Quady 2018 Red Electra Moscato (California); $15. This is the red version of Quady’s Electra Moscato, which includes the white and rosé bottlings. It’s just as sweet as the others, with residual sugar of 17.6%. The color is ruby-garnet, and translucent. Like its siblings, it’s utterly delicious, with cherry, raspberry, fig, vanilla cream and white pepper, accompanied by a bit of fizziness. Very high acidity provides a cleansing finish. A great success at this price. I have to say how much I enjoy all three of these Moscatos; they’re super-drinkable, at low alcohol (5.5%). Score: 92 points.

Quady 2018 Electra Moscato (California); $15. This white wine pours clear and straw yellow. It looks dry—but it isn’t! One sniff tells you it’s a sweetie. Honey, orange blossom, apricot preserve and a subtle clover-leaf aroma make you want to taste it immediately. It is sweet enough to drink as a dessert wine with, say, vanilla butter cookies, or even on its own. The sweetness is balanced with refreshing acidity (the total acidity is a high 9.2). All in all, a bright, clean, satisfying wine whose low alcohol—a mere 4.5%–may inspire you to drink a lot of it. It’s also just a little fizzy. Food-wise, I like the winery’s recommendations, which range from fruit salad to Indian food to spicy Asian. I’ll give this wine 91 points for its sheer likeability.

Quady 2018 Electra Moscato Rose (California); $15. Same  price as the white Electra Moscato, a percent higher in alcohol, but still, at a mere 5.5%, pretty low. The blush color is a pretty salmon-pink. It’s a bit sweeter, but the main difference is the range of flavors: deeper, fruitier, more flowery, more honeyed. With lower acidity than its white sister, it’s also more mellow. Both wines are just fine. Tremendously versatile at the table, and a perfect warm-weather sipper. Tasting this rosé on a warm summer day, I think of beaches, pools, gardens. I think of watermelon, ham, fried chicken, pot stickers, Chinese roast pork, sushi, prosciutto-wrapped melon, cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, butter cookies. Score: 91.

Quady 2017 Essentia Orange Muscat (California): $23. In this sweet wine, you’ll find delicate flavors of Mandarin orange, apricot and honey. The residual sugar, for you factoid freaks, is 17.4%, which is high, but the acidity (8.6%) also is very high, which balances the wine, so it’s not insipid. There’s a wonderful creaminess, which I suppose comes from brief oak barrel aging, and also from the nature of the Orange Muscat grapes from which the wine was made. Alcohol is high—15%, due to some fortification with a brandy-like spirit, which stops the fermentation so that some residual sugar remains. I would certainly enjoy this wine with cheesecake. Score: 90 points.

Quady NV Palomino Fino (California); $32.  Most Americans are unfamiliar with sherry-style wines, which of course originate from Spain but have been reproduced successfully here in California. This bottling was made from the Palomino grape variety—the real sherry grape in Spain–grown in the Central Valley city of Fresno, a hot area where Palomino thrives. It’s made in the authentic sherry style, using flor yeast and a solera system. The alcohol is fairly high, 17.5%, but it has to be with sherry, which is fortified with a little brandy. The wine, darker than a regular fino, is absolutely dry, with a yeasty, nutty flavor and elusive notes of macaroons, orange marmalade and spices. The oxidative taste is delicate; the freshness won’t last long after the bottle is opened. This is an acquired taste, but once you understand it, it’s addictive. I would drink this with classic Spanish aperitifs, such as garlickly potato salad, roasted almonds, grilled shrimp and sausage, olives, scrambled eggs, croquettes, calamari. Score: 90.

Quady NV Starboard Batch 88 (California); $25.  Proprietor Andrew Quady turns to sweet red wine for inspiration. This is made from traditional Port varieties. It’s deeply colored, but an orange rim at the edge is a good sign, suggesting immediate gratification. Your first impression of the taste is intense sweetness, the result not only of the residual sugar (13.6%) but of soft acids and mellow tannins. There’s a lot of deliciousness here: blackberry jam, sugared espresso, plum sauce and chocolate-raspberry truffle. There’s also a pleasing heat from high alcohol (20%). It’s basically a California tawny port: no need to age, just drink up now. I could see sipping this on a cold winter evening with chocolate brownies. Score: 91.

  1. VYA Vermouth. You must make a cocktail of half sweet and half dry, on the rocks. Heaven in a glass!

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