In this milestone year at Quady Winery, Quady wines have collectively won eighteen gold medals at ten international competitions. Vya Whisper Dry and Essensia Orange Muscat won Best of Show at the Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition. Vya Whisper Dry is Quady’s newest vermouth, and Essensia is the sweet wine that started the Quady success story back in 1980. Quady winemaker, Michael Blaylock, is in his 31st year of crushing sweet muscat and port grapes at Quady winery.
The accolades are very much appreciated, but Blaylock likes to say, "What really matters is I'm still having fun!”
What makes Michael Blaylock's wines so unique? Adapting Quady’s original formulas, Blaylock follows a meticulous winemaking methodology that enusures quality year after year. Quady wines made by Blaylock celebrate the vibrant flavors of Orange and Black Muscat, and Muscat Canelli, in addition to several other distinctive varieties used in his wines.
"Michael has long surpassed my own winemaking ability. The quality over the years appears to be getting better – his attention to detail and intuition are impeccable," says Andrew Quady.
Top awards for Quady wines so far in 2014 include:
Essensia Orange Muscat (2012) wins:
Elysium Black Muscat (2012) wins:
Starboard Batch 88 (non-vintage ‘port’) wins:
Vya Whisper Dry Vermouth wins:
Vya Sweet Vermouth
Quady Winery, in Madera, California, founded by Andrew and Laurel Quady, makes world-renowned sweet and apéritif wines from rare varietals suited to the hot San Joaquin Valley climate. Winemaker Michael Blaylock uses distinctive Orange and Black Muscat grapes to make Essensia and Elysium (fortified) muscat wines. Quady Winery’s Starboard ports are exceptional expressions of Portuguese grapes grown in California. Quady’s Vya is America’s first small batch, artisanal vermouth. The Quady crew offers entertaining winery tastings and tours, and moscato slushies in the summer. Visit www.quadywinery.com, www.vya.com for more information.
Read more about Quady wines and download updated bottleshots at quadywinery.com
We created a new Vya website this year and we've been meeting a lot of inspired bartenders, who've inspired us to showcase their drinks. This list was vetted by Andrew and Laurel Quady and only the tastiest and most holiday of cocktails made the cut. We're sure they'll bring some more holiday cheer to your days and nights. My personal favorite, because I can both easily make and drink a lot of it, is the Mulled Vya. Vya is already full of spice and when you make it into a warm mulled drink with even more spice it all fits together perfectly and you're ready to cozy up by the fire and chat long into the evening. Plus, it includes Essensia, which adds that perfect orange marmelade element and brightens up the drink. Check out the Mulled Vya, last on the list, on our holiday cocktails page!
~ Allison Quady Shaylor
Andy Geanacopoulos publisher of Wine in Glasses has blogged about a Margarita made with Essensia. The recipe is found in Quady Cock-Tails, a drink book available from the winery with our wines as ingredients. We got it from the head bartenders at a popular Mexican restaurant, Barrio, in Seattle Washington after Barrio's Margarita was voted "Best Margarita in Seattle". It was originally published it in the December 2010 edition of our newsletter: Dessert Wine Digest. Several years of our newsletters can be found archived on the Quady Winery web site. Using Essensia, which is made from the Orange Muscat grape variety (in place of triple sec) instills a new level of sophistication to this classic cocktail. Although Petron tequila (shown in the photo) can be used, the recipe called for El Jimador.
From Barrio Restaurant, Seattle where Essensia is used in place of the typical Triple Sec or Orange Liqueur.
Winners were announced at the Vancouver Playhouse during their International Wine Festival "Celebrating Excellence" Luncheon.
This year's winner, Lisa Ip of the Four Seasons Hotel, was also a finalist last year. According to Tomiko Mayede, last year's winner, the judging might be as difficult as competing, maybe more.
Congratulations to all the competitors. Finalists this year included Michael Gelinas and Maria Darquier. Photos of the desserts follow:
And Lisa Ip's winning entry, Lever du Soleil:
Lisa says: "I think tropical fruit and citrus go well with the Essensia, I just try my best and do what I believe goes well with the wine."
The Dessert Wine Competition began in Madera in 1988, moving to its current home in Vancouver in 1990. Chef Roland Pfaff, of Alsace originally won that year representing Le Croccodile.
The Boston Wine Riot is Quady Winery's favorite (aka the most fun) tasting. Check out this video and these pictures. Andrew conducted a crash course on the topic: Moscato, Surrender to the Sweet. See what a local blogger commented . At the wine riot, tasters could keep track of the wines they tasted using an app on their mobile phones. The wines could be rated one or two thumbs up or "meh". This information was shared with the riot organizers who kept track of the favorite wines. The top 20 or so wines were posted instantaneously. Quady's Elysium ended up at number 2 of all the wines in the room. It was beaten by one thumb by Jam Jar, a sweet shiraz from South Africa. At the wine riot lots of people like em sweet.
Ask someone who’s just sipped Deviation to describe it, and you will see a gleam in their eye. Tantalized, they will claim a need for just another sip to properly appreciate the flavors. In her Valentine's posting Sandra Sojii, Tokyo Wine Matters, recommended Quady Deviation as a love potent (contains damiana) and for its "Heavenly scents...". Indeed, the rose geranium is present, then fleeting. The wine is sweet, but leaves the palate cleanly. The finish perhaps is at the heart of its tantalizing nature. The orange muscat, the Damiana, the floral notes are all present but like the perfume of a passing woman - intoxicating yet hard to hang on to.
In an episode of the TV crime show, CSI: NY, Damiana and Chocolate were found in the stomachs of female crime victims. The implication was that these women were seeking greater pleasure or heightened libido than they could get from chocolate alone. We like Deviation with Chocolate too - with little chocolate covered vanilla ice cream balls. The product is called: "Dibs".
Does it work ? It depends on who you drink your Deviation with! Try it with your next chocolate and your current love.
With over 40 years experience Quady has earned the mantle: "America's grande dame of sweet wines" Now there is a new appreciation for sweet wines, and in January a conference,“Sweet, Dessert and Dried Fruit Wines: A World View” convened at the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute. There were 75 participants. This was the first ever conference on sweet wines at UC Davis. In one day this ambitions event attempted to deal with history, production, and marketing of sweet wines.
A winemaker panel discussed production. Michael Blaylock, winemaker at Quady, talked about Purple, made from the Sunbelt variety and sold only in our tasting room. Other experts talked about the history of sweet wines and the different styles which are made: ice wines, botrytis, port, and relics of the past such as Angelica. Master of Wine, Doug Frost, talked about Vin Santo and how popular this sweet wine is in Italy. Darryl Corti from Sacramento put forth the thesis that sweet wines are the greatest of all.
Why now, a conference on sweet wines? The reason undoubtedly is the marketplace. For the last two years, the only grape variety in California which has increased in price is Muscat. Muscat grapes,used almost entirely to make sweet wines "moscatos" have doubled in price whereas others are either down or flat. Nielsen surverys of wine sales at retail show that the inexpensive moscato category has tripled in volume in the past three years. Most of these wines are inexpensive, $5.00 a bottle or so, but higher priced moscatos are selling better as well, including Moscato d'Asti and Quady Electra and Red Electra.
It is not clear why this happened but one fact is clear: Consumers discovered sweet wines without the help of so-called wine experts who for years and years have been teaching people that sweet wines should not be drunk - except at special times and that the only ones worth drinking were the expensive ones.
It is significant that those sweet wines having increased sales are the ones with lower alcohol levels - a fact emphisized by Blaylock at the symposium as making them more food friendly. It is now coming to light that, with or without food, to great numbers of people, low alcohol sweet wines are the correct choice. This should be a shock to the world's "wine experts" who assume that peole can be trained or "educated" to like alcoholic, acidic, tannic wines; and wines which are totally "dry" (having no sweetness whatever).
Could it be that it is the "wine experts" who are wrong? Tim Hanni thinks so. He has been involved in research on individual variation in sensitivity to wine components and maintains that the fraction of people who will never be able to enjoy traditional dry wine may be over half of the world population. He sites case histories of persons who for professional reasons have drunk dry red wines all their adult lives and never learned to enjoy them.
The current fad for alcoholic, extracted, dry, and tannic red wines is turning more people off than on. Think about it. What sort of wines get really high scores in the Spectator or from Parker: big bold reds. Restaurants price these wines high. If you were a customer, looking for something special, wouldn't you go for an expensive one ? Unless you were in the minority, with low sensitivity to alcohol and tannin, you wouldn't like it, and the next time wouldn't waste your money.
Our friends at Merry Edwards Winery recently posted a recipe for marinated quail using Vya Vermouth as marinade. We're delighted of course, and hungry.
It reminds us of how many culinary uses we've come up with for our wines.
Essensia pairs well with fall and winter desserts. From pound cake to panna cotta to flourless chocolate cake, many desserts are enhanced by Essensia or Elysium.
Imagine a cool persimmon dessert soup with a touch of Essensia. The possibilities are endless.
What is your favorite recipe incorporating a Quady wine?