Category Archives: Between $15 and $19.99 | Reviewed

Moscato Wine | Putting Popular Moscato Wines To The Test

Guide to Moscato Wine | Testing Popular Moscato Wines

Moscato Wine

Is it just me, or have Moscato wines become all the rage lately? I don’t know whether to attribute this sudden resurgence in Moscato’s popularity to all of the recent hip-hop shout-outs or simply because consumers have rediscovered what makes Moscato wine so likable in the first place. Some are even calling Moscato wine the new “rapper’s delight” – though it’s more likely a confluence of both factors.

Luckily, unlike the purely aspirational nature of previously coveted rapper libations, Moscato’s refreshingly low-alcohol, aromatic and slightly-sweet personality is exponentially more attainable!

What Kind of Wine is Moscato? | Moscato Wine

Moscato is produced from the Muscat Blanc grape resulting in an intensely aromatic, typically semi-sweet white wine that ranges from being still or slightly effervescent to completely sparkling, otherwise referred to as Spumante. Spumante literally means an Italian sparkling white wine.

Moscato owes it’s aromatic intensity to its high concentration of monoterpenes enzymes – some of which are actually known for their natural antibacterial behavior and can also be found in aromatic herbs and spices such as mint and cinnamon. Moscato shares this interesting trait with other highly aromatic varietals such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

What Does Moscato Wine Taste Like? | Moscato Wine

Generally speaking, you can expect a vivid, floral aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom along with flavors of fresh peaches, apricots, apples, citrus and ginger. Moscato wine owes a good deal of its popularity to its exotic and expressive bouquet.

They are usually semi-sweet with enough acidity to avoid becoming heavy. Many Moscato wines have a unique “Muskiness” that is characteristic to Moscato wine.

Moscato wines tend to pack a lot of flavor in an approachable, low-alcohol package. They are phenomenal wines for novice wine drinkers and for sipping on hot, summer days.

Moscato Wine

Where is Moscato Wine From? | Moscato Wine

Being arguably the oldest vinified grape variety in the world has led to Moscato getting around a bit – Moscato wines can be found thriving in many wine-producing regions of the world.

But the Moscato name hails from Italy – as do the famous Moscato d’Asti wines produced in Italy’s Northwestern Piedmont region.

Asti is actually a province within Piedmont with approximately 75,000 inhabitants. Any wine labeled Moscato d’Asti must be produced from grapes sourced within this region.

Moscato Vs. Moscato d’Asti | What’s the difference?

While the different but names may be confusing, the differences between these Moscato wines is actually quite simple.

Moscato d’Asti is most often produced in the frizzante style so it is slightly sparkling, and must come from the Italian province of Asti. Moscato d’Asti is the most famous type of Moscato.

A wine that is simply labeled Moscato is a white wine that can be produced all over the world and will most commonly be slightly effervescent, though is sometimes produced in a dry style.

How Can I Tell How Sweet A Moscato Will Be? | Moscato Wine

Looking for just a hint of sweetness? A great way to identify which Moscato wines will be right for you is to look at the alcohol by volume (ABV), which will be shown as a percentage. The higher the alcohol content, the less sweet that particular Moscato wine is going to be. Conversely, if you want a sweet Moscato wine, look for a low-alcohol one.

As a general rule when trying to determine how sweet a Moscato wine is:

  1. When alcohol is from 5% to 8%, it will be more sweet.
  2. When alcohol ranges from 9% to 12% it will be less sweet.
  3. So using this logic, a 5% ABV Moscato should be very sweet while a 12% ABV Moscato should be far more dry.

What Should I Pair With Moscato? | Moscato Wine

Due to sweetness of many Moscato wines they make terrific accompaniments to spicy cuisines and desserts (think thai food or peach cobbler). But their exuberant, low-alcohol personalities makes them popular aperitifs as well.

Moscato Wine

Which Moscato Wine Should I Buy? | Putting Popular Moscato Wines To The Test

Luckily, due to the recent surge of Moscato’s popularity it is becoming easier to find in local stores. It’s an added bonus that like its approachable personality, most Moscato wines are similarly priced and easy on your wallet.

The following Moscato wines are popular, well-distributed examples so they should be as easy to hunt down as they are inexpensive to enjoy. They are ranked in order from least to most expensive.

Moscato Wine

Blue Fin Moscato 2013

Price: $4.49

Where I Got It: The Trader Joe’s Wine Section

Alcohol By Volume: 10%

Sweetness Level: Medium

Level of Effervescence: Slightly Sparkling

Flavor Profile: An aromatic and perfumed nose leads to rich notes of honeysuckle, apricot and honeydew melon along with hints of orange zest. This exudes a vibrant personality with enough acidity and subtle effervescence to keep this semi-sweet wine from becoming heavy or cloying.

Origin: California

Value: 5 / 5

Should You Buy? Exuberant aromatics, the best price and a level of sweetness that isn’t overwhelming? The Blue Fin Moscato is a solid option and an excellent value at under $5.

Moscato Wine

Barefoot Moscato (Non-Vintage)

Price: $4.77

Where I Got It: Total Wine

Alcohol By Volume: 9%

Sweetness Level: Wow this is sweet!

Level of Effervescence: Slightly Sparkling

Flavor Profile: Only slightly more aromatic than the Alice White Moscato, the Barefoot Moscato reveals predominantly elderflower, honey, pear and lime notes with a thick, viscously sweet mouthfeel that’s lifted by subtle effervescence.

Origin: California

Value: 4 / 5

Should You Buy? If you’re looking for a very sweet, inexpensive Moscato, then Barefoot Moscato is the wine for you.

Moscato Wine

Alice White Lexia Moscato (Non-Vintage)

Price: 6.99

Where I Got It: The Trader Joe’s Wine Section

Alcohol By Volume: 10%

Sweetness Level: Very Sweet

Level of Effervescence: Still

Flavor Profile: A subtle, understated nose with faint suggestions of honey and lime leads to a very rich, sweet mouthfeel that’s dominated by honey notes along with hints of lime citrus and kiwi.

Origin: South Eastern Australia

Value: 2.5 / 5

Should You Buy? If you’re looking for a very sweet, simple Moscato without any effervescence then this is an okay option, otherwise it was not impressive.

Moscato Wine

Bartenura Moscato 2014

Price: $10.99

Where I Got It: The Costco Wine Section

Alcohol By Volume: 5%

Sweetness Level: Very sweet

Level of Effervescence: Slightly sparkling

Flavor Profile: The nose is clean and reveals white flowers and lime along with hints of peach. The mouthfeel is extremely sweet but the refreshing acidity keeps the Bartenura Moscato from becoming as heavy as the Barefoot Moscato.

Origin: Italy

Value: 3 / 5

Should You Buy? The Bartenura Moscato offers decent complexity but is only for those who like their Moscato very sweet. It is a nice option for those looking for a Kosher Moscato.

Moscato Wine
Donnafugata Lighea Zibbibo 2014 (Muscat of Alexandria)

Price: $23 Retail, though available from $16.49 to $19.99 according to wine-searcher.

Where I Got It: Sample

Alcohol By Volume: 12.5%

Sweetness Level: Completely Dry

Level of Effervescence: Still

Flavor Profile: A vibrant, perfumed nose reveals notes of flowers, lychee, apple, melon and pear enveloped in a honeyed richness. In the mouth, those notes carry though but become more subdued than the nose might suggest and are grounded by stony minerality and zesty acidity – something completely lacking in the other Moscato wines tasted today. It finishes nicely with lingering hints of ginger spice.

Origin: Sicily, Italy

Value: 4 / 5

Should You Buy? Those seeking the alluring aromatic qualities of Moscato in a refreshingly dry package will find this more sophisticated offering from Donnafugata to be an excellent option. While the most expensive of the wines tasted today, it is well worth the money and is the Moscato you would find in my glass.

Ty Caton Sonoma Cabernet | An Estate Grown Gem

Ty Caton Cabernet Sauvignon Caton Vineyard | An Estate Grown Sonoma Gem

Ty Caton

As the hunt for good Napa Cabernet under $20 becomes an increasingly arduous one, you might consider treating your taste buds to a sojourn in Sonoma.

If it’s Pinot Noir that comes to mind when you think of Sonoma, keep in mind when you head further west towards Sonoma Coast is where you’ll find the highest concentration of vineyards dedicated to Pinot (and Chardonnay). But just across the Mayacama mountain range from Napa Valley you’ll find warmer days along with some great Cabernet’s such as this example by Ty Caton Vineyards.

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Bodegas Valdemar | A Legacy of Innovation in La Rioja

Bodegas Valdemar | A Legacy of Innovation in La Rioja

Bodegas Valdemar

My incredibly loyal readers know just how fond I am of Spanish wines. They often seriously over-deliver for the price and have an endearing ability to combine the best aspects of old-world wines (balanced, food-friendly and terroir-driven) with those of new world wines (more fruit-forward).

As a Sommelier friend was recently explaining to me, if he is looking to introduce a new world wine drinker to the old-world wine scene, he always starts in Spain. And if he were introducing them to the wines of Bodegas Valdemar, he would have both modern and old-world options to choose from within the same portfolio!

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Famiglia Bianchi Malbec Review | World’s Best Red Wine?

Famiglia Bianchi Malbec Review | World’s Best Red Wine?

Famiglia Bianchi Malbec

Last year the annual wine competition known as the “Vinalies Internationales’ took place in Paris. The event is organized by the French Winemakers Association with the intent to identify the best wines in the world. Over 3,500 wines were presented from 41 countries to be evaluated blindly by 150 members of the international judging panel. Amongst the contestants: the Famiglia Bianchi Malbec 2012 from Casa Bianchi Winery in Mendoza, Argentina.

The results were shocking: Not only was it the first wine from Argentina to receive the top honors from the prestigious panel, but the Famiglia Bianchi Malbec 2012 was awarded the Grand Trophy of “World’s Best Red Wine”.

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Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 | Trader Joe’s Wine

Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 | Trader Joe’s Wine Review

Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011

There are so many wines available well under $10 in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section that when you come across a $17 bottle of wine, it actually seems relatively expensive! Typically you might be happy to find a respectable bottle of wine for $17 in a wine shop, as prices of the more desirable selections quickly head north from there.

The Trader Joe’s wine specialist was quick to not only recommend the Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 but also to reassure me that it wasn’t expensive at all – but rather a steal for what you’re getting beneath the cork – one of Italy’s top red wines at a fraction of the usual cost. Music to my ears! So let’s pop the cork on the Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 and see just how good this Amarone is!

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Northstar Merlot Review | A Merlot for Cab Lovers?

2010 Northstar Merlot Review | Northstar Winery

Northstar Merlot

Two of my best friends are decamping the Washington D.C. area and are relocating to Seattle sometime this year. While I’m not exactly thrilled that they are moving to the other side of the country, it will give me a great excuse to visit beautiful Washington State from time to time and perhaps even explore it’s burgeoning wine country – where Northstar Merlot is produced.

Already big wine-lovers, their impending move has them drinking almost exclusively Washington State wines these days. It has been great fun to pop the cork on several different examples and most of them have been great if not excellent. One of their favorite go-to bottles has been the Northstar Merlot, which they regularly find for under $30.

But then they told me that the highly-acclaimed 2010 Northstar Merlot was being sold in the Costco Wine Section for under $20! So naturally I jumped at the opportunity to grab a case before it sold out – as the best deals always seem to do.

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A Taste of Stinson Vineyards | Rose & Meritage Review

A Taste of Stinson Vineyards | Rose & Meritage Review

Stinson Vineyards

The Historic Piedmont House originally built in 1796. Photo credit:

Stinson Vineyards is a small, family-run winery located in Crozet, Va. The father/daughter winemaking team of Scott and Rachel Stinson sought to produce fine wines in Virginia with a winemaking philosophy that is strongly influenced by those of the French, and especially the controversial ‘garagiste’ winemakers of France.

Rather appropriate then is the fun fact that the winery at Stinson Vineyards is actually built into an old 3 car garage on the 12 acre property. That may be all they have in common with the garagiste winemakers however as Stinson Vineyards focuses on “…European-style wines that emphasize subtlety and complexity rather than power and super-ripeness…” The latter attributes essentially being the goals of the French garagiste winemakers who defy mainstream, more traditional French winemaking practices.

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Costco Champagne | Kirkland Signature Brut Review

Costco Champagne | Kirkland Signature Brut Review

Costco Champagne

If this is you’re very first visit to The Fermented Fruit then welcome and thanks for visiting! I hope you come back and visit often. If you’re one of my totally incredible regular readers though, then you probably know just how much I love sparkling wine, especially Champagne!

Despite my profound love of Champagne, I can’t bring myself to regularly spend upwards of $40 on a bottle of bubbly; hence why I drink wines like the La Marca Prosecco, Lunetta Prosecco and Roederer Estate Brut more often. But sometimes you just want to drink real Champagne so today we’re tasting an affordable option that blends both my love of Costco and Champagne: The Kirkland Signature Brut, otherwise known as Costco Champagne!

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Roederer Estate Brut Review | Cristal’s American Relative

Roederer Estate Brut Review | Cristal’s American Relative

Roederer Estate Brut

In 1982, Jean-Claude Rouzaud selected a 580 acre vineyard site in California’s Anderson Valley with the intent to expand and further build upon his long family tradition of producing world-class sparkling wine.

The descendant of the founder of Champagne Louis Roederer, Jean-Claude Rouzaud was running the highly successful family company when he decided to bring his vision of Champagne to the United States in the form of Roederer Estate. Six years after locating this ideal, sizable site near the Mendocino Coast, the Roederer Estate Brut was born!

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Meerlust Rubicon Review | Meerlust Estate Winery

Meerlust Rubicon 2007 | Meerlust Estate Winery

Meerlust Estate Rubicon

Since 1756 and under the stewardship of eight generations of the Myburgh family the Meerlust Estate has been producing world-class wine in Stellenbosch, South Africa – namely the Meerlust Rubicon. It’s predominantly clay soils engender vines that are cooled by evening ocean air in the summertime, allowing for optimal growing conditions and slowly ripening fruit.

The idea to craft ‘Rubicon” on the estate, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, was inspired by Nico Myburgh’s time in Bordeaux. He identified that the terroir of the Eerste River Valley in South Africa was similar to that of Bordeaux’s Gironde River, being composed of clay and granite soils cooled by sea breezes.

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