Moscato has had much of the same triumphs and problems that Chardonnay has had. It has been grown extensively in diverse climates in both Old and New worlds. The style of the final product varies drastically, regardless it is widely known by a singular example. Finally, Moscato can be the basis for some of the most amazing wines, yet is still blamed for the existence of the worst wine lakes.
It has become a token saying to not drink Chardonnay, yet for a special occasion Meursault and Champagne are still purchased. I fear that Moscato has received much of the scolding without the continued education on the higher plane that Chardonnay still receives. This is very much a path I have had a hard time confronting. I have a strong affinity for this marvelous vine stock, yet I am still shell shocked from trenches of battling bulk wine product in wine retail battles.
In the USA, sweet Moscato has become the latest sweet wine to take the torch of shitty trends. I often joked that the thing that united rappers and soccer moms was Escalades and Moscato. Some of my personal wine accomplishments were easing Boston University girls from Moscato into Loire Valley wines.
Despite all of this, I had tasted some dry Muscats from Southern France that were fantastic. An Alsace fascination led me to read about the wonders that dry and even aged Muscat could have. On the super sweet side, amazing Passitos often thrive best with a Moscato base. I am still held back from professing my Moscato adoration, indeed, from fear that people will not get the point, that it will lead to continued Barefoot brand Moscato sales. There is no good way to explain to someone that the Moscato I like is good and your supermarket one is bad. We wine people have bad enough reputations.
Coming to Italy, I had much anticipation of finally getting access to Trentino-Alto Adige wines. Throughout my first year, I invariably started trying the Goldmuskateller/Moscato Giallo dry wines on my visits to Alla Porta Vini, an enoteca specializing in the region’s wines. The only wine shop in Bologna run by a lederhosen wearing owner. It was all great. I went through the line of light, lovely aperitif styles to full bodied, oily ones that could cut through a curry dinner.
Le Volpi Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio
During one of my last visits to Acca Vineria, I chatted with Franco, and mentioned this Trentino affinity. He said he had just the thing off the menu: from Veneto, an appellation I had never heard of. Apparently, around this state park they are growing almost only Moscato.
Now, I did see the Arancio on the label, but when he poured me the first taster I smelled orange. I really did. It could have been psychosomatic, or maybe it is what gave it the name, but I smelled it. Sometimes dry muscats can have an almost bitter texture. Is this bitter texture a characteristic of the grape similar to dry styles of Gewurztraminer? OR have the enologists wanting to make dry muscat, in an effort to not have it mistook for sweet, swung the pendulum so dry that it ends up being dryer then your average Chardonnay?
The First International Grape or The Noble International Grape
Of course there are different clones (as there are for Cabernet or Chardonnay) but it makes one think that Moscato must be one of the most noble grapes, having both the history of growing in some of the greatest appellations (Jerez, Sauternes, Alsace and Tokaji) and even shining through in modern vinified bone dry examples in alpine Val d’Aoste or Trentino to the Volcanic Island of Pantelleria.
Via S. Giorgio, 11 / E, 40121 Bologna
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Enoteca Alla Porta
Via Castiglione, 79 Bologna