Tag Archives: Piedmont Wine

Moscato d’Asti: The Sweetest Pairing

15 Sep

Why don’t we drink moscato d’asti all summer long? It’s a good question. We should!

On a brutally hot day, sometimes the best thing you can do is pop open a bottle of Moscato d’Asti. The gentle effervescence and delicate fruit provides a lovely respite from the hot sun. In the past I mistakenly  viewed moscato d’asti as a dessert wine, but a recent Master Class tasting clearly demonstrated to me where the strength lies with these delightful, low alcohol, and inexpensive wines.

Here’s the thing about moscato d’asti  it offers light acidity, low alcohol, and crisp, clean ripe fruit flavors with floral and herbal aromas. Because fermentation is halted early, sugars that would normally convert into alcohol are left behind in the juice (literally). So the wine is a touch sweeter than a dry riesling, for example, but also has the benefit of being bubbly, another natural occurrence from the fermentation in closed steel tanks.

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I have to admit, I made a mistake in seeing Moscato d’Asti as a dessert wine. At this tasting, I noticed the best pairing came from the wine’s natural complement to savory flavors of cheese, quiche, bread, and mortadella. It left the mouth fresh, lively, renewed. When paired with petit fours, the experience was simply too much sugar at once. But against a savory bite? Perfection! And on a hot day, these wines were refreshing and delightful on the palate, a good way to escape the midday sun.

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Gorgeous setting, but a sweet bite was not the finest pairing for Moscato d’Asti. I preferred savory!

 

 

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A lovely lineup of six Moscato D’Asti wines, all quality, well-made wines from 2015, under $20.

Tasting Notes:

Saracco Moscato D’Asti DOP 2015: ABV 5.5%,  WS Average $15. 

Color is very pale with hints of straw. The nose shows apricot, white pear, and orange peel. On the palate a medium effervescence is met by tangerine and ripe peach.  Sugars are direct and upfront.

 

La Caudrina Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2015: ABV 5.5%,  WS Average $15. 

Color is pale straw, nose is decidedly floral with a hint of herbs. On the palate, crisp pear, honeysuckle,  and orange peel are evident. Sugars are back palate.

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Vignaioli Di Santo Stefano- Ceretto Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2015: ABV 5,5%, WS Average $17.

Medium straw/goldenrod in color. The nose is subtle with herbs & fruit. Sage, lavender, and white peach. On the palate, light effervescence, dried apricot, golden delicious apple. Sugars are in the mid & side palates. Impressive balance.

 

Coppo SRL Moncalvina Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2015: ABV 4.65%, WS Average $15.

Color is pale straw with a green tinge, the nose is sweet with wildflowers, peach and apricot. In the mouth, baked peach, ripe apple and orange blossoms up front. Sugars are direct and forward in the mouth. This wine fits right into middle, as the median of the six wines tasted.

 

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2015: ABV 5%, WS Average $20.

Color is pale straw, the nose shows citrus, honeyed apricot, and distinct notes of sage and thyme. Light effervescence with tiny bubbles. Fruit is quite delicate in the mouth. A less sweet approach, with gentle apricot and peach, sugars faded to the side palate. Very nice.

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Marenco Vini Scrapona Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2015; ABV 5.5%, WS Average $19.

Pale yellow in color. Nose is most delicate of the wines today: lightly herbaceous with orange blossom. Delicate flavor profile of orange, lime, apricot and peach. Sugars and citrus are firmly in the back palate.

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I enjoyed all of these wines, but personally my favorites were wines #3 and #5 in our tasting (from left to right in the pictures of the glasses): the Vignaioli Di Santo Stefano-Ceretto (the bottle with the elongated neck) and the Michele Chiarlo “Nivole”, both of which had distinct fruit, floral and herbal notes, and sugars that were less noticeable, placed on the side palate.

If you aren’t already a fan, I suggest you try Moscato d’Asti soon, and enjoy it in the afternoon as a refreshing complement to a savory bite. You will be pleasantly surprised how well it pairs with meat or  cheese, how beautifully it blends with creamy flavors, and how the herbs in the wine will pop in harmony with arugula or fresh herbs in a dish.

Let me know what you try!

 

à votre santé!

 

 

My Superbowl 2015 Picks (in Wine)

2 Feb

For the Superbowl, I tend to go with what I know: Bordeaux! This year however, I changed up my game plan. I made a pile of bruschetta and picked these three bottles, two from Tuscany and one from Piedmont:

Pian dell’Orino Rosso di Montalcino 2011 (found online $30-40/bottle, 14%ABV)

Roagna Langhe Rosso Nebbiolo 2006 (Crush Wine $30/bottle, 13.4%ABV)

Brunello di Montalcino “Il Marroneto” 2000 ($40-70 online; 14% ABV)

 

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Needless to say, both the bruschetta and all three wines were hits! I decanted the Tuscan 2000 Brunello sangiovese and although it showed a hint of browning on the edges this wine is a stunner with plenty of life left to go. It has the most muted fruit and was the most subtle of the three, but those who drank it raved and championed its delicacy, depth and balance. The in between wine is the Pian dell’Orini Rosso di Montalcino, which is a sangiovese from Tuscany with delicate color, vibrant nose and fruit, and good balance of acidity. Rosso di Montalcino is the baby brother to Brunello, and even in a listed off-year, shows magnificent value. This wine compares well to Burgundy pinot noir, not shocking given that both Tuscany and Burgundy are on the 43rd parallel with similar topography.

The Langhe Rosso, a delightful nebbiolo from Piedmont, had the darkest color, fullest nose, and the most body of the three wines. While they all were made by different producers,  many guests who tasted the range suspected a vertical and either a name-changing winery, or neighboring vineyards.

Nope, these three wines demonstrate wonderful Italian winemaking, plain and simple. They worked wonders with the vegetarian chili as well as pizza, baked ziti, and the various appetizers that were served. For the wine drinkers, the choices were an obvious Super Bowl win.

What did you drink for the Superbowl this year?

à votre santé!

Baby Barolo from Piedmont without Peers

30 Aug

Roagna Langhe Rosso, Piedmont, Italy, 2006. From Crush Wine & Spirits, $30/bottle. 13.5% ABV.

OK, I’m a French wine snob. But I’m also a huge fan of nebbiolo. So when I saw Crush advertise a “back up the truck nebbiolo”, I thought I’d take a chance. Now I’m so glad that I did, as the only place in NYC to buy this wine off the shelf is Astor Wines, at $32, but that is still a bargain for this wine. Here’s why:

Color is violet in the center with russet-orange edges. A powerful nose features plum wine, forest floor, tar, and eucalyptus. On the palate, dark black fruit just past perfection is delightful in this 8 year old wine that is drinking like two decades have passed.  A hint of zing on the black plum and blackberry fruit is matched with rose petals, menthol, leather, and marlstone. On back palate we meet the Herschel Walker of tannins- the fullback that drives thru the defensive line, and POW, a team is left wondering what hit them. The finish is a prolonged experience of dark flavors with mushroom, red peppercorn, and old dried fruit; tar is a distant memory as the leather evolves back to the forest floor, old wood, fall leaves, a hint of bret and more marl appears as the acid shifts to the upper palate and your tongue begs for the next sip.

Wow.

So…do you love older barolos and barbarescos? Then this may be the wine for you. At this price, it’s worth buying, for it drinks like a $100+  Piedmont wine. If you don’t love Italian wines, then buy a bottle for the person in your life who does. I can think of three of my dear friends who are Italian wine lovers, and I wish I had extra bottles to give them. Well, maybe I’ll share… if they are really nice!

The hype was right, this is a back-the-truck-up wine. If you’re serious about Italian wine, this is one for you. Chill it lightly, then decant for an hour before serving. Three days later, it’s still drinking marvelously. You can thank me later, but remember to invite me to the dinner party where you serve this. 

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à votre santé!

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