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Batasiolo Moscato d'Asti 2003
The "Beni di Batasiolo", the amphitheatre of vineyards surrounding Batasiolo's cellars, was the original setting for their company. Over the years other farms - other "properties" - have been added to this nucleus, and now the estate covers nearly one hundred hectares of vineyards, making it one of the largest farming concerns in the Langhe.
Best known for sweet, fizzy white wines but also producing some more serious reds, Asti is both a town and a province in the northeastern Italian region of Piedmont. The best vineyard sites are reserved for Barbera, which can produce some of its best and most age-worthy iterations here as Barbera d’Asti. Other red varieties grown here include Freisa, Grignolino, and Dolcetto, which can be bottled varietally or blended into Barbera.
The wines consumers most commonly associate with Asti, however, are Asti (formerly known as Asti Spumante), and Moscato d’Asti. Both are playful, aromatic, and made from the Muscat grape, but Asti is less sweet, fully fizzy, and more alcoholic (yet still clocking in at only around 9% ABV) while Moscato d’Asti is sweeter, gently sparkling (“frizzante”), and closer to 5 or 6% ABV. Each is produced in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh and fruity flavors of the grape, which include peach, apricot, lychee, and rose petal.
Singularly aromatic, often sweet, and always enjoyable, Muscat never takes itself too seriously. Muscat is actually an umbrella name for a diverse set of grapes, some of which are genetically related while others are not. The two most important versions are Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and Muscat of Alexandria, the former being of considerably higher quality. Both are grown throughout the world and can be made in a wide range of styles, from dry and aromatic wines to sweet and richly perfumed dessert wines. It is well known in Italy's Piedmont region for Moscato d’Asti, a slightly sparkling semi-sweet wine that is refreshing and low in alcohol.
In the Glass
Muscat wines possess intense aromatics of peaches, rose petals, geranium, orange blossom, and lychee, often with a hint of sweet spice, and always with a uniquely grapey character that is uncommon in other wines.
Thanks to its naturally low alcohol levels, Muscat is a perfect match for spicy Asian cuisine, especially when the wine has a little bit of residual sugar. Off-dry Muscat can work well with lighter desserts like key lime pie and lemon meringue, while fully sweet Muscat-based dessert wines are enjoyable after dinner with an assortment of cheeses.
Muscat is one of the oldest known grape varieties, dating as far back as the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Pliny the Elder wrote in the 13th century of a sweet, perfumed grape variety so attractive to bees that he referred to it as uva apiana, or “grape of the bees.” Most likely, he was describing one of the Muscat varieties.