Italy, yes, of course, but Moscato from Indiana? Sure why not?
To celebrate this year’s Moscato Day, Thursday May 9, we thought it would be fun to share two that are expected and one that is not– two from Italy and one from, yes, Indiana — along with some appetizer ideas for happy hour at home or Mother’s Day. Check out Moscato from IDAHO here — yes it seems the “I’s” have it when it comes to Moscato!
Let’s start with an introduction to the grape of the day, Moscato, using information that Sue and I learned at a Moscato Master Class in June 2017 as well as additional information from my VinItaly Wine Ambassador Course as well as Wikipedia which describes .Moscato d’Asti as “a DOCG sparkling white wine made from the Moscato bianco grape and produced mainly in the province of Asti, northwest Italy, and in smaller nearby regions in the provinces of Alessandria and Cuneo.”
Traditionally, Moscato was a dessert wine, but now it’s considered a palate starter.
Moscato grows in very hilly terrain, and so the grapes are very labor intensive to produce. The Asti DOCG has an altitude of 200 to 600 meters, and vines are planted on east, south, and west slopes. The lower hills add concentration of fruit while the higher hills add aromatics. Hills to the east are warmer while to the west, hills are higher and cooler. Vineyards are planted on steep hillsides on highly terraced slopes with only a fraction of the area under vines. Summers are warm and winters are cold; snow is common.
Moscato Bianco is considered the original muscat grape of Italy, and the source of all muscat grapes in Italy; eight varieties are officially recognized in the Italian National Register. Moscato bianco is the indigenous varietal of the region. Caneli is the name of the capital city of the Moscato region which is possibly why it carries the name muscat canelli in California.
Moscato is remarkable for its expressive floral nose and fruity flavors because it has the highest level of terpenes of any grape family. Terpenes are organic compounds found in plants (and some insects!) that produce strong aromas; they are used in perfumes, aromatherapy, and food.
Different terpenes have different aromas — the ones in cabernet franc can express bell pepper for example while in moscato, some offer spicy floral aromas; geraniol is a dusty floral aroma that gets used in rose oil and citronella, and nerol brings peachy aromas.
According to Wikipedia, “from 2011 to 2014, Moscato d’Asti sales in the US increased 73% and sales have risen around 10-15% per year among consumers under the age of 45. Such rise has been attributed to the affordability of the wine (most range from $10–20) and its popularity in hiphop culture.”
Average price point for higher quality moscato however is between $20-25 dollars. In the US what’s available is being consumed as a young wine; better quality wines do have the potential to age.
Some of the delightful aromas dissipate after a wine has remained open for a while, but in reality this is not a wine that many who like it would let stay in the glass that long! So drink up and enjoy! Happy Moscato Day!
Below you’ll find three very different kinds of Moscato for your Moscato Day, Mother’s Day, summer picnic or poolside consideration!
2017 – Stella – Moscato – 10% alcohol – SRP $10
This Moscato of Alexandria was grown in Sicily at 1500′ elevation on the western side with northern and southern exposures providing more fruit flavors. Stainless steel fermentation.
Color: Pale straw, catches the light nicely, tiny effervescence that fades fairly quickly.
Nose: Fennel bulb, orange, honeysuckle, citrus flowers, citrus bloom, hints of petrol.
Palate: Lightly sweet, nicely tart on the finish, good balance, honeysuckle nectar, fruity but not too fruity, very refreshing.
Pairing: With just the St. Angel cheese alone, it was just alright, but by adding a fresh strawberry to the top, it was wonderful. With the Chevoo marinated goat cheese with fennel pollen and orange it was fantastic. Really good with the dark chocolate almond and dried cherry bark. This would be great with Asian takeout for a summer picnic in the park or to see a summer concert.
Castello del Poggio Moscato IGTSRP $13 – 7% alcohol
This is the top selling Italian Moscato in the U.S.!
Color: Pale straw, very little color, almost platinum.
Nose: Honey, almost mead like, when first poured there is citrus fruit, citrus juice, citrus flower which disappears quite quickly. There is also some earthen qualities more clay than minerals, a clean clay as opposed to a muddy clay. Some iris.
Palate: Nice effervescence, sweet peach. This is a moscato for those who love sweet wines. We both felt that this was not quite a sipping wine. It really calls for the help of some food to round out the sweetness. It does hang around the palate. Honey or honeycomb coats and lingers on the palate, which is not unpleasant, it is not syrupy sweet or sickly sweet because it does have a bit of acidity.
Pairing: We both felt that this was a nice cocktail wine. As we were talking about the wine, we imagined how well it would go with apple pie for a dessert pairing or a cheese danish for brunch. The fat in the St. Angel cheese tames the sweetness and brings out orange in the wine. When adding a strawberry on top it wasn’t as great as the cheese alone. Fantastic with our Chevoo marinated goat cheese with fennel pollen and orange. This would go well with Asian orange chicken takeout. This wine is so much better with food! It was just so so with our chocolate almond and dried cherry bark. This wine really liked the rich salty qualities of the cashews, making us think of Asian cashew chicken. Great Chinese take out wine for a mid-week date night!
Check out their Mayscato Madness sweepstakes: During the month of May, enter to win one of 20 Castello del Poggio Summer Sets on the Castello del Poggio Facebook page.
While it may not be your go-to white wine for dinner, Moscato’s floral notes, sweetness, and low-alcohol makes it a poolside or cocktail ingredient. While Indiana hasn’t been making moscato wine nearly as long as Italy, Indiana’s oldest and largest winery, Oliver Winery, offers up a Blueberry Moscato SRP $12. – 6.8% with an easy access screw top and a lovely label.
Color: Such a pretty pink!
Nose: Lemon oil, lemon juice, there is also a hint of fresh blueberry.
Palate: Very lightly sweet, very tart, nice minerality, very bright and fresh. There is a nice mouthwatering quality to the wine as well. This would be a great palate cleanser. Nice floral characteristics on the finish, violet or iris pastelle. We both found this to be an interesting wine.
Pairing: This would be a great party wine. It should go well with potluck foods, chicken wings, bbq meatballs, spicy foods like curry or spicy Asian food. So fun with our Chevoo marinated goat cheese with fennel pollen and orange. Great with the St. Angel cheese and strawberry combination. It also worked nicely with the chocolate almond bark with dried cherries and sea salt.
Surprise! This wine was the clear winner of the three for us in our taste test.
You’ll be able to find it in about half of states in the US, online at oliverwinery.com or at Oliver Winery in Indiana, rated among the top 25 wineries to visit in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure.
Happy Moscato Day! What will be in YOUR glass?
PS Moscato Day is also Sue’s birthday! Happy birthday, Sue!! Cheers!
Congratulations Oliver Winery of Indiana, you won the race 🏎🏁