The Notch Tennessee muscadine table wine from Tsali Notch Vineyard is perhaps the oddest wine we've written about (maybe excepting Le Canon). It is yellow gold in color with a nose that calls to mind something spicy like a gewurztraminer or the oddball grape also talked about--symphony. But symphony is a cross between European grapes.
This is all American. It smells like it is going to be sweet but it isn't.
I had this wine for weeks before I got to drinking it. It scared me. I was at the beautiful vineyard talking to the erudite and informative employees, taking a break from a long brutal drive. And when I was told all they made was muscadine wine? My expectations were limited. I tried a small amount of the wine which is a lot different from having several glasses. Here is another thing. One day later? Two days later? This wine evolves only slightly. You can open it and drink it over at least three days.
But why is that? It is because we have become accustomed to something different. If phylloxera had rampaged unchecked and undefeated through Europe in the late 1800s we might well be quaffing muscadine and Norton wines with abandon. This particular version of muscadine is obviously made with skill. The grape is still what it is and there is a particular taste here that is definitely not a European varietal. One funny thing is that this grows on you. It is also a wine that might, unshockingly, be better with something fried! It isn't in my head that this is a match for the sort of food you associate with its homeland.
This isn't a wine that you are going to guzzle and, I cannot lie, not everyone is going to love it. It is something fans of odd and natural wines may appreciate. Those who won't look far beyond cabs and chardonnays are not going to like this offering from Tsali Vineyards but it isn't really made for them in any case.
Muscadine grapes are native to the Southeastern USA. They are used to make jelly and grape juice and are purported to be high in a variety of healthy compounds. One reason why muscadine wine is disparaged is that everyone's grandpa, south of Maryland, likely made muscadine wine out in his shed. Why would you pay for THAT? Hell you drink that right out of the bottle. This is not that sort of wine. If you are feeling a little adventurous? Seek this out with an open mind.