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Carl Hudson
June 21, 2017 | Wine Varietals | Carl Hudson

Symphony Grape Variety

Since 4.0 Cellars currently offers a bright, fresh summer white wine that contains the Symphony grape, it seems an appropriate time to tell you about this little-known grape.  The wine of interest is the 2014 Lily by Brennan Vineyards.  Symphony is a Californian crossing of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris developed in 1948 by the late Harold Olmo, professor of viticulture at UC-Davis. As its pedigree suggests, it is an aromatic variety with aromas of peach, apricot and lychee with slightly spicy flavors. Symphony is mostly used in white-wine blends, where it contributes to the aromatic profile of the final product. A few varietal examples of Symphony are made in California, typically produced as off-dry or late-harvest wines.

Symphony was originally intended as a grape suitable to provide Riesling-like character when grown in warmer climates, such as the hot Central Valley of California.  However, there and elsewhere in California, growers enjoyed only limited success with it. It is now cultivated mainly in the inland regions of Lodi and Sierra Foothills. Symphony is one of 30 new varieties included in the group of “Olmo grapes” produced by Prof. Olmo over his 50 year career. It was first created in 1948, but it required over 30 years of research to complete the crossing and generate a stable cultivar. Thus, the variety was not commercially released until 1981-82. 

Symphony has met with some reasonable success in both Texas and New Mexico when grown in higher elevation areas, such as the Texas High Plains and the high plateau region near Deming, NM.  These areas experience cooler overall temperatures, especially those cool, crisp nights, where both Symphony and Riesling can produce quality fruit.  Symphony fruit from New Mexico was included in previous white blends like Brennan Vineyards Three White Chicks 2014 and White Tie 2014 released under the 4.0 Cellars label (by Brennan Vineyards). The current 2014 Lily by Brennan Vineyards is a 50:50 mix of Symphony and Riesling, fermented under cool conditions to near dryness.  It opens with floral, ripe apple aromas that suggest far more sweetness than the wine actually delivers.  This is a clean, crisp, easy-drinking wine for hot summer days on the patio, around the pool or on a picnic.  Stop by and give Lily a try.  


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