Muscat, also know as muscatel or moscatel, is a varietal that is produced in many of the major wine growing regions around the world. In Italy the varietal is know as Moscato, and can be produced in either a still or sparkling (frizzante) style. Moscato is used predominantly to make sweet dessert wines that can be crafted to compliment dolci (sweets) or served as dessert itself, or as a milder alternative to other after-dinner liqueurs. In many cases the wine is fortified with additional levels of alcohol to enhance the wine’s intensity.
I’m actually a big fan of Moscato, both in still and frizzante forms, and recently I had the opportunity to taste a couple of new world offerings from Jacob’s Creek (Australia) and Motos Liberty (California).
The Jacob’s Creek is a frizzante, or sparkling style, but compared to other sparkling wines the Jacob’s creek would be considered mildly ‘spritzed’. The color of the Jacob’s Creek was very light and from a distance, the wine could easily be confused for something other than wine (like water) once it’s fizz dissipates.
The nose offers traditional hints of honey, peach and pear, along with mild mineral and slightly metallic notes; although, I would consider the nose of this wine to be a touch faint. On the palate the wine offers a very nice balance of effervescence and acid, along with honey and pear.
I sampled both of these wines by themselves, as well as with some dessert – it just so happened to be my mother’s birthday so we had some homemade New York style lemon cheese cake and some very delicious Smores Cupcakes after dinner. Both desserts offered some very rich and challenging flavors for a dessert wine to tackle, but the Jacob’s Creek was certainly up to the challenge. In fact, I preferred the Jacob’s Creek with dessert. At 8% alcohol and with the well-crafted acid levels, that’s exactly what this wine was designed to do.
Wine: Jacob’s Creek
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The Motos Liberty is a still, or non-sparkling Moscato. Where the Jacob’s Creek may have lacked in forward fruit, the Motos Liberty offered up a rich caramel and honey. The Motos has a bit more alcohol at 10%, which undoubtedly helped in intensifying the nose and front palate. However, where the Jacob’s Creek excelled in structure and acid, the Motos fell flat, literally. But, again, this is by design. The Motos is really meant to stand-alone. That said, it’s caramel and honey flavors were a nice complement to the Smores cupcakes, with its blend of graham cracker and marshmallow.
So what you have here are two examples of an old world varietal produced in the new world, but achieving very different results. I couldn’t help to think that together they would have made the perfect dessert wine. While I prefer the fresher effervescent style of the Jacob’s Creek, both wines are worthy of consideration for your next dessert wine pairing.
Wine: Motos Liberty
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