VARIETAL VIGNETTE: SPOTLIGHT ON ANGELICA

Posted on June 27, 2014
Filed Under Wines | Leave a Comment

Think of Angelica in the same category as Port. Angelica is the first of fortified wines that will be discussed in Varietal Vignettes. Fortified wine has a spirit added to it, usually brandy or a neutral spirit such as vodka, making it 17% to 21% alcohol. Other examples of fortified wine are Madeira, Sherry, and Marsala.

The origin of Angelica can be traced to the Mission period in California. Franciscan missionaries produced it from Mission grapes and is thought to be named after the City of Angels, Los Angeles. There are still several producers in California that continue to produce Mission-based Angelica although many producers have switched to using Muscat grapes for Angelica.

Gypsy Canyon Angelica

One producer that still uses Mission grapes is Deborah Hall of Gypsy Canyon. Hall performed extensive research on Mission grapes and Angelica after discovering long dormant vines on her property. She follows the recipe described by Franciscans that she uncovered in her research. Since she produces less than one barrel of Angelica each year, it can only be purchased on her Website. The Muscat-produced Angelica wines are more plentiful and much easier to find.

Angelica is amber-colored with caramel on the nose. Flavors of honey, apricot, figs, and sage combine in a silky mouthfeel and a nutty (hazelnut or pecan) finish. One Franciscan missionary wrote in his journal that it was suitable for sipping at any occasion, but when serving with dessert, it pairs best with fresh fruits or smoky cheeses.

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