Moscato D’Asti, a Lovely Introduction to the Study of “Aromatic” Grapes

8 Nov

            The focus of ISG’s Fundamentals of Wine I class is grapes.  In week one, we studied and tasted Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.  In week two, we shifted our attention to Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and the “aromatic” white grapes: Riesling, Gewurtraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Chenin Blanc.  I found the study of the aromatics to be more challenging than their predecessors.  For the most part, my experience with these grapes to date has been, on a relative basis, small and I found their distinctions more subtle.

            The one exception was an old favorite, Muscat.  I first tasted Moscato d’Asti at one of my favorite restaurants in Italy, Badia a Coltobuono.  “Badia” is the Italian word for abbey and Badia a Coltobuono (abbey of the good harvest) makes both a wonderful Chianti Classico and some of my favorite olive oil.  The facilities are beautiful, so much so that that we recreated their outdoor dining Pavillion at our Texas ranch (along with a wood burning pizza oven that we imported from, of all places, Australia, but that’s another story…..).  While the extraordinary vistas and ambiance at Coltobuono might influence one’s assessment of their fare, I’ve eaten there a number of times and have found the food consistently exceptional – fresh, artistically prepared innovations on Italian classics.

Badia a Coltobuono

Italian Inspired Dining Pavillion at Our Texas Ranch

           The Moscato D’Asti that I enjoyed was not a Coltobuono product.  Asti is in Piemonte, in northeast Italy.  I’ve always had a penchant for sparkling wine, which, to me, makes any day a celebration.  I loved the sweet, lightly fizzy Moscato d’Asti that I was served at Coltobuono as a substitute for dessert and have enjoyed many a glass in the intervening years, despite the fact that my wine aficionado friends tend to lovingly chide me when I do so.  While I don’t generally view myself as overly sensitive, I did feel a moment of personal redemption this week.  Writing for the Wine Enthusiast, Deborah Grossman stated that “Like bees to honey, wine lovers are flocking to Moscato, the sweet wine known for white peach flavors and a silky mouthfeel. The growth of Moscato is phenomenal.  A.C. Nielsen data reveals a 153.6% increase in volume during 2010.”  My next glass will be filled not only with bubbly sweetness, but with the sweetness of vindication.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: