Wine Blogging Wednesday themes never cease to entertain me. This month they're a bit behind schedule, but then again, that seems to work with the theme... A Toast to the End of the Bush Era . I don't usually mix my politics and my wine, so I hope my readers will forgive this inadvertent aberration. In appreciation of your understanding, I will do my very best to keep my comments neutral and focus on the wine I selected this month for this special occasion. Have you ever had the absolute pleasure of drinking a Moscato d'Asti?
My love affair with Moscato d' Asti goes something like this... It doesn't matter if I'm celebrating something in particular and want to have something with a touch of bubbly. It doesn't matter if I've made a fabulous Thai dish or spicy curry for dinner. It doesn't matter if I just want a touch of sweetness after my meal, in lieu of "official" dessert. It doesn't matter if I'm heading out on a picnic (this concept is more of a fantasy for me than something I actually do, for some reason, but I know this would be a perfect wine for that also). And it doesn't matter if I'm settling in for another late-morning brunch watching Sports Center. These wines always scratch the right itch for me.
Northeast of Alba, in the mountain-enclosed region of Piedmont, Italy, you can find the signature grape Moscato turned into all of its magical, wine goodness called Moscato d'Asti. Technically Muscat Bianco is an ancient French varietal that goes by several different (similar) names - and is thought to be the oldest grape known to man (I just love that fact!). The practice of making this wine in a lightly bubbly, or frizzante (fizzy) style via the charmant or tank method began in the 1870. It is delicate, lightly sweet and gorgeously fruity. Winemakers must keep the alcohol low, with a maximum of 5.5% permitted by law. This means very little of the grape's natural sugar is convereted into alcohol and wine remains, you guessed it, naturally sweet! These wines are also stopped with a regular cork because the wine is under less pressure than other bubblies like Champagne, Cava or Prosecco. If you pick up a bottle you'll notice it is vintage dated (and meant to be drunk young and fresh). Drink it chilled and serve it in a regular wine glass. The bubbles are small and long-lasting on their own.
The wine I chose for this "assignment" is the 2006 Borgo Maragliano 'La Caliera' Moscato d'Asti. There is almost no information available on this wine, but fortunately I have a connection with the importer that allowed me to get an inside look...
La Caliera is made by the Galliano family who owns the 35 acres of vines on their property in the smallest DOC in Italy, Loazzolo (boasting 350 people). There is a long history and tradition in the area for making Moscato d'Asti, as I mentioned before. So while the Galliano's make other bubbly wines, this is their flagship. The name 'La Caliera' is actually a tribute to their neighbor, who was described as a generous, kind and warm-hearted woman with a noble and quiet character ~ that which is reflected in the old, limestone and marl vineyards on the property.
Smelling the wine makes you feel as though you've just entered a great, big garden. The wine offers unique aromas of fresh violets! As you take a sip, honey, peaches and apricot flavors dance on your tongue. Its trademark finish is lively, long and luscious and will leave your mouth watering from its vibrant acidity. Suffice to say, this is a wine every great leader should have in his/her repertoire. It delivers only sweet success! (How's that for neutral "political" commentary?!)