With wine, my favorite and most memorable moments happen when I’m surprised. This happened just a couple weeks back when I had the chance to taste through the portfolio of Beni di Batasiolo with the winery’s president and managing director, Fiorenzo Dogliani.
Admittedly, my experience with the wines of Piedmont is limited. While I arrived to the tasting most interested in trying Piedmont’s flagships, Barolo and Barbaresco, it was two whites that caught me off guard and reminded me why this hobby is so enjoyable.
The first wine to catch my attention was the leadoff hitter in the lineup — a 2010 Gavi di Gavi. This was my first taste of the Cortese grape, but I’ll seek out more. From vines found in red soil and sand and named for the village in which it’s grown, it had a wonderful nose of spring flowers and an interesting palate of lemon, green apple, and some spice. I initially likened it to a Sauvignon Blanc, but it had a bit more heft and refreshing acidity, so it would stand up to all sorts of foods.
The other wine that grabbed me was a 2010 Moscato d’Asti. In the United States, the reputation of these wines is tarnished by the many mass-produced, overly sweet offerings commonly found on supermarket shelves. But listening to Fiorenzo speak passionately about his Moscato while we enjoyed it sparked my interest in such wines.
Beni di Batasiolo’s Moscato d’Asti had a massive nose of pear, melon and pineapple that initially worried me — I feared the wine would send my blood sugar soaring. What I found, however, was an airy, uplifting wine with a subtle spritz and touch of sweetness that was much lighter than anticipated. At only 5.5% ABV, this would make a perfect picnic companion or lakeside sipper.
In listening to Fiorenzo and his friends talk about Moscato, I learned that the secret to his wine lies in the soil and his attention to detail. The calcareous soil often found in Piedmont is effective at producing full-bodied grapes that don’t require a heavy dose of sugar to hide their imperfections. While Moscato does not receive much respect in the United States, it was clear while talking to Fiorenzo that Moscato d’Asti is serious business in Peidmont.
So, as summer approaches, forgo the cheap supermarket Moscato and take the extra time to seek out a true Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont. You might be surprised at how enjoyable it can be!