10 Cheap Moscatos

Over the past several months I did a series of Moscato tastings inspired by the rise in popularity this wine has been enjoying as well as it’s growing presence on store shelves.  Like other sweet wines, this venerable varietal has been downplayed by many wine experts.  And yet, the history of this wine goes back farther than many – if not all – of the so-called “serious” wines.  I have to admit that even my initial mentors in the world of all things wine taught me that I should dislike sweet wines.

But I don’t like people telling me what I should think – or what I should drink.  Don’t get me wrong: I love a big chewy, dry red.  I really do!  Even so, I’m of the opinion that the wine varietals that are produced around the world all have a purpose, a place.  And just like fashion and music and food, the spotlight moves here and there, giving each varietal it’s time at center stage.  Remember how huge Chardonnay was a decade or so ago?  Not that it disappeared, of course.  Anyway, right now it looks like Moscato has it’s own follow spot.  I mean, let’s face it.  It’s been getting multiple mentions in popular music.  Celebrities are endorsing and lending their names to brands of Moscato.  It’s hot!

Because this blog focuses on the exploration and enjoyment of wines that are moderately priced (aka cheap), I didn’t seek out all the top names or brands of the moment.  Instead, I just bought what I saw on the store shelves.  And what did I find there?  Well…

As you may know, I don’t have a rating system on this blog.  But I do sometimes compare wines in light of my own personal preferences.  So in that spirit, I’d have to say my favorite Moscato of those I tasted this time around was the Rex-Goliath Moscato.  This was a white Moscato imported from Argentina – only one of that winery’s several Moscato offerings.  I think they have another white Moscato on store shelves at 9.5% alcohol.  They also do a pink and a red Moscato.  This Rex-Goliath was the driest Moscato I tasted at 11.5% alcohol, and yet it was the most fun to drink because of it’s ebullient flavor profile, coat-the-tongue lushness and energetic but not overpowering acidity.  I also enjoyed the  Sutter Home Moscato imported from Chile quite a bit.  The Sutter Home was a little sweeter and also had some interesting flavors along with hints of spice.  Rounding out my top three of the ten I sampled is the Villa Alena Moscato d’Asti 2012.  The sweetest among my faves at 5.5% alcohol, this Italian Moscato is like cotton candy in a glass.  It’s also extremely effervescent and could easily take the place of a sparkling wine for toasting an informal celebration – birthday, housewarming, groundhog day, whatever.

I have to say that I’ve gained a new appreciation for this old grape.  I have my eye on a few more I think I’d like to check out.  But in the meantime, here are the rest of the Moscatos I tasted this go-round in no particular order.

Sara Bee Moscato
Riven Rock Moscato 2012

Naked Grape Moscato
Gallo Moscato Chile
Fish Eye Moscato 2011
Barefoot Moscato
365 DiFlora Moscato

As always, I’m open to recommendations.  So feel free to drop me a note and tell me what I’ve missed.  Or maybe you’ll find something among these selections that you enjoy.  Here’s wishing you many good wine adventures!

Villa Alena Moscato d’Asti 2012

I hate it when life gets in the way of blogging!  Every once in a while that happens to me.  But I’m happy to say that it hasn’t stopped me from drinking some wine and taking notes.  Those who drop in often know I’ve been working my way through some cheap Moscato’s, and here is another.  This is from the very famous Asti region in Italy.

Winemaker:  Villa Alena
Wine:  Moscato d’Asti
Varietal:  Moscato
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Asti, Italy DOCG
Price:  $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  Color on this one was a very pale yellow.  The bouquet was extremely faint with an almost dusty quality.  It was light-bodied and very effervescent.  I mean it was bubbly and frothy on the opening and stayed lively throughout.  Flavors were fairly simple – honey and sweet apricot with some peach notes, too.  Acidity was fine and alcohol was at 5.5%.  Yes, another very sweet dessert wine, to be sure.  As bubbly as it is, you could use this for a fun, casual summer birthday toast instead of the expected Champagne.  And it’s easy on the budget.

Riven Rock Moscato 2012

Riven Rock Vineyards is a winemaker I hadn’t heard of before seeing this selection on the shelves of my local Whole Foods.  Doing just a bit of looking around, I found that this label is produced by a company called ASV Wines.  ASV says they have several lines of “control brands” which includes the Riven Rock group as well as a private label program.  

Winemaker:  Riven Rock
Varietal:  Moscato
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  California
Price:  $6.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  The color of this California Moscato was pale yellow.  It’s bouquet brought very light scents of spiced peaches.  The body of this Riven Rock was medium-light.  It had a gentle viscosity and sufficient acidity (but a little on the low side for me).  Alcohol was at 11%.  Simply put, it tasted like spiced peaches in light syrup.  Or more correctly, it tasted like drinking the light syrup from a can of spiced peaches, albeit not quite as heavy and sweet as syrup from the canned peaches my father used to enjoy so much.  Funny, he wasn’t much of a drinker – maybe one or two glasses of something on a festive occasion per year.  But I have no doubt that this Moscato would have been right down his alley.  He also liked circus peanuts, if that tells you anything about his taste preferences.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.