Wine of the Week:
Casa de Campo Moscato
In the wonderful world of wine, something new is often something old that’s been rediscovered. This week we’ll discuss the hottest wine in America (from the wine world’s oldest grape variety), something that’s new to many people, and an old favorite of many more.
Try a new wine this week!
It is widely believed that the Muscat grape, often called Moscato, is the oldest wine grape variety of all, the progenitor of all other wine grape varieties. That’s old, but today it’s enjoying a newfound popularity. It is, in fact, the hottest wine in the country!
That’s not a big surprise to Moscato’s many fans. Its flowery, perfumed nose is followed by a luscious texture and rich flavor, with hints of fruits and flowers that almost defy description. Honeysuckle, rose, apples—many scents and flavors are ascribed to the Muscat grape.
But there’s more. The main Muscat grape, prized from Asti (yes it’s used in both the sparkling Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti, spumante’s spritzy sibling), to California to Australia and beyond, is the White Muscat. A cousin of this grape is called Orange Muscat, for reasons that become quickly apparent when you pour a glass, and another is called Black Muscat, for its very deep purple/black color and flavors to match.
But the original, the one that everyone wants, is Muscat Blanc, or the White Muscat. In the south of France it’s called Muscat Frontignon, used in the local dessert wine called Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. In Italy it’s sometimes called Muscat Canelli..
Muscat Alexandria is a different cousin. It’s most popular in Eastern Europe, as is Muscat Rose (I’ve had both of these in Eastern Europe, and loved them both).
Whatever you call it, Muscat/Moscato is gaining a lot of new friends these days, who enjoy its fragrant nose and intense flavor. Most Muscat is made either slightly sweet or sweeter than that. Sometimes a lot sweeter. There aren’t many dry Muscats out there.
But this doesn’t mean that it has to be with dessert. Spicy dishes often pair well with off-dry or slightly sweet white wines. I know that some wine lovers suffer an automatic shutdown when this style is mentioned, but anyone who enjoys a fine German Riesling should give moscato a try.
I found one earlier this year from Argentina, called Casa de Campo (“House in the Field”, or “Country House”. It has all the great qualities that most moscato’s enjoy—perfumed nose, luscious texture, fine, lingering finish—but has a bit more complexity and a touch crisper acidity that really balances its rather delicate sweetness.
Casa de Campo Moscato retails for around $10.
You can remember Casa de Campo Moscato by the cows on the label. They also produce a Malbec.