From a pricing standpoint, the range is quite modest. Ranging roughly from somewhat under $10 to perhaps just over $20, this is a narrow enough band to allow even casual consumers to check things out for themselves. After personal inspection of these wines, allow me to offer a few suggestions. The less expensive wines are often perfectly serviceable, gently sweet and the fruit lacks the complexity or the lush creamy texture that distinguishes the finest Moscatos. I would generally opt for paying a few dollars more to get the best, and the best continue to come from Italy, Asti in particular. It's simply a matter of terroir and experience one would think, so I can see other great Moscatos emerging in the future, but most are not there yet.
Moscato is a perfect wine for the holiday seasons. It’s incredibly festive and works spectacularly well as an aperitif, or with desserts and cheese. Adding it to your table is like adding a glass full of the summer's finest sunshine to your dark winter day, so get out there and pick some up today. Sharing a bottle with your friends and family will be both greatly appreciated, and greatly rewarding as you finally find a wine to please everyone. Interestingly, I've included two oddball wines in this report: a still Moscato as well as a sparkling Malvasia, which resembles Moscato but is a little less fruity and drier. The particular example I tried was delicious and a nice change of pace. It also comes in an attractive bottle, making it an ideal gift this holiday season.
Moscato image via Shutterstock
2010 Coppo Moscato d'Asti Moncalvina 5% $15
Sweet honey dipped peach, pear and orange aromas fill the glass topped with hints of Earl Grey tea. Sweet in the mouth but anchored by fine acidity, this delivers a lovely array of bright and vivid orchard and citrus fruit flavors all topped with a hint of dried herb in a seductively creamy package. Soft yet persistently effervescent with a creamy citrus finish. A bit opulent perhaps but excellent. 90pts
NV Albino Armani Moscato 1607 Veneto Italy 7% $15
Clean and crisp on the nose with sage and lime rind top notes to the core of apricot fruit. With rather effusive bubbles, this seems nicely light on the palate but it is packed with apricot, lemon and melon fruit flavors. A bit drier than expected, this has a faint creamy edge and finishes with juicy acidity and lime flavors. A fairly serious Moscato if there is such a thing. 89pts
NV Cavicchioli Malvasia dell'Emilia IGT Italy 8% $13
Subtle aromatics on the nose show off almost medicinal base notes with pithy citrus aromas. Subtle on entry, this shows off lovely lemon and lemon pith flavors with hints of pollen and herb stems adding complexity. Light, fairly dry, and tart on the finish, this is irresistible. The finish shows a hint of strawberry tops and minerals before fading into pithy citrus flavors that ends on a mineral finale. A sweet sparkler for adults. 88pts
2010 Tenimenti Ca Bianca Moscato d'Asti 5% $15
Very herbal and lime tinged on the nose with a dry polleny aspect and hints of tree bark. On the drier side for Moscato with lovely dried orange peel and creamy apple flavors framed with a gentle nutty/honeycomb note. The backend shows some of that herbal quality found on the nose before a wave of quince jam drives this to a lean, focused finish. 87pts
2011 Kenwood Moscato Zacchera California 12% $16
Very lemony and bright on the nose with a nice pithy underlay that adds a hint of bitterness to a bouquet that includes suggestions of flowers and blanched almonds. For a still wine, this is fairly sweet in the mouth, but delivers lovely peach and citrus flavors with that hint of pithiness from the nose serving as a counterweight to the sugar. Round, easy to drink, and fairly complex with floral accents in the mouth, this finishes with juicy acidity and a nice citrus note with mineral hints. Pure fun in a bottle. 87pts