June 8th – Quady Winery (Madera, California) was recently awarded two gold medals at the 2021 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) for their high scoring Essensia (96 points) and Elysium (95 points) fortified dessert wines. These were the only two fortified wines from the United States to earn gold medals in the category.
The IWSC is one of the longest running and most prestigious wine and spirits competitions in the world. The competition’s judges are considered some of the most experienced and well respected within the industry. Of the nearly 3,500 wines that received medals at this year’s IWSC Northern Hemisphere judging, only 148 were awarded highly coveted gold medals from the organization’s judges. A vast majority of the fortified wines judged at the competition hailed from Portugal and Spain.
Quady Winery has a long history of specialization in fortified winemaking. While Andrew Quady (founder, owner, and CEO) started Quady Winery making port style wines, his Essensia Orange Muscat and Elysium Black Muscat dessert wines were two of his most distinguished early creations. Essensia and Elysium were first released in 1980 and 1983 respectively and were considered innovative at the time of their introduction, influencing the way dessert wines were made, enjoyed, and respected in the United States.
Essensia and Elysium are made from high quality Orange and Black Muscat grapes grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The name Essensia refers to capturing the essence of the Orange Muscat grape. Elysium, made from Black Muscat, has a rose like character and aroma which ties it to the Greek concept of Elysium as a state of ideal or eternal bliss. Each of these varieties are rare in the United States and thrive in the San Joaquin Valley’s warm weather and unique soils. Unlike most Muscats, Quady’s are fermented on their skins. This process preserves the richness found in the grapes and is part of the secret to Essensia and Elysium’s robust flavors and aromas, which are then balanced with fruit acidity. Balancing ensures the wines are sweet, full-bodied, and never cloying. Fermentation is arrested with the addition of a neutral grape spirit before barrel aging the wine for a brief period of three months.
Quady’s Essensia and Elysium are enjoyed today as traditional dessert pairings, on their own, and in cocktails. Essensia’s prominent orange marmalade, honey and apricot flavors make it the ideal complement to almond, peach, apricot, apple and cheesecake desserts. Elysium’s rich dark berry, cherry and rose petal character make it a favorite with chocolate and berry confections, puddings and creamy desserts. Essensia and Elysium are also successful mixers behind the bar in traditional and modern cocktails. Mixologists and home bartenders alike find that these wines add aroma, flavor, and complexity in their favorite drinks and can be used as low ABV alternatives in place of liqueurs.
Quady Winery is known for its sweet and aperitif wines from varieties and in styles hard to find anywhere else. Their wines are the products of over 40 years of expertise in Muscat winemaking and a partnership with expert Muscat grape growers in California’s Central Valley. Quady wines are full of character: spicy and floral, fresh, fruity, and well balanced. In addition to Essensia and Elysium, Quady Winery makes fast-growing premium Moscato brand, Electra, award-winning premium vermouth, Vya, and highly-rated Port-style wine, Starboard.