La Morandina Moscato d'Asti 2017
Pair with biscuits with hazel nuts, classical "Torta di Langa", or fruit salad with peaches and strawberries.
The Morando brothers, who make less than 8,000 cases of Moscato d’Asti and work organically, are prized as much for their rarity as their quality. Giulio and Paolo Morando have 15 hectares of Moscato planted in the Bricco Francia cru, which is made up primarily of calcareous clay soils.
While they make about 1500 cases of red, mostly Barbera, in Barbaresco, their passion is Moscato. As Marco De Grazia recently described "the bouquet transcends Moscato with unique nuances of sage and mint." The estate is also passionate about sustainability and has been working organically for over 30 years.
Their vineyards have been something of a laboratory in the last couple decades as the brothers have worked closely with the University of Turin. Their uncle Albino has taught viticulture there for years and has carried out a number of experiments in Bricco Francia. His discoveries, along with those of Giulio and Paolo, have provided immense joy both for lovers of Moscato and sustainable farming.
Recognized as the source of the best Barbera in all of Italy, Asti is a province (as well as major city) in Piedmont, consisting of a gentle, rolling landscape with vineyards, farmland and forests alternating throughout.
Barbera d’Asti can be made in an array of styles from relatively straightforward, fruity and ready for consumption early, to the more concentrated, oak aged version with an ability to cellar impressively for 10-15 years and beyond. Some of the very best sites for Barbera in Asti are concentrated in the subzone of Nizza Monferrato. Other red varieties grown here include Freisa, Grignolino and Dolcetto, which can be bottled varietally or blended into Barbera.
Historically consumers commonly associated the Asti region with Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti, both playful, aromatic, sparkling wines made from the Muscat grape. Asti Spumante is less sweet, fully fizzy and more alcoholic (yet still clocking in at only around 9% alcohol) while Moscato d’Asti is sweeter, gently sparkling (“frizzante”) and closer to 5 or 6% alcohol. Each is produced in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh and fruity flavors of the grape, often including peach, apricot, lychee and rose petal. Asti is also the spot for the pink-hued Brachetto d'Acqui, a slightly sparkling wine ready to charm with its raspberry and rose flavors and aromas.
Alluringly aromatic and delightful, Muscat never takes itself too seriously. Muscat is actually an umbrella name for a diverse set of grapes, some of which are genetically related and some of which, are not. The two most important versions are the noble, Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, and Muscat of Alexandria, thought to be a progeny of the former. Both are grown throughout the world and can be made in a wide range of styles from dry to sweet, still to sparkling and even fortified. Muscat is well-known in Italy's Piedmont region (where it goes by Moscato) mainly as Moscato d’Asti, a slightly sparkling, semi-sweet, refreshing wine low in alcohol. On the Iberian peninsula, it goes by Moscatel, not to be confused with Bordeaux's Muscadelle, which is acutally unrelated.
Tasting Notes for Muscat
Muscat makes a dry, sweet or sparkling white wine. Regardless, Muscat wines always possess marked aromatics of rose petal, jasmine, honeysuckle or orange blosson. These wines can have flavors of peach, pear, Meyer lemon, orange and lychee, often with a hint of sweet spice.
Perfect Food Pairings for Muscat
Muscat is a perfect match for Asian cuisine and other spicy foods. 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.
Sommelier Secrets for Muscat
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.