The muscat grape is the new “hot varietal” with sales increasing 78% last year, although the grape has been around for centuries and may be one of the oldest known wine-producing grapes.
These wines are almost always sweet with pleasing peach, floral, and musky aromas. The best are from the south of France (the fortified wine Beaumes-de-Venise) or northern Italy (sparkling wines from Asti) and use a particular high-quality clone of the muscat grape, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. But outside of these regions the results can be uneven with many producers employing an inferior clone called muscat of Alexandria that is usually simple and without distinction.
Donnafugata, one of the leading wine producers in Sicily, is unique in that it produces a dry muscat of Alexandria that is quite distinctive. (The grape is called Zibibbo in Sicily).
Lime and beautiful floral aromas are pronounced; the palate is succulent and creamy with citrus and pine accents. Stout in body but with crisp, refreshing acidity, this is a versatile wine that can satisfy as an aperitif or as a companion to robust grilled or fried fish, pasta or chicken. No oak, 12.5% alcohol.
If you are tired of the standard chardonnay-sauvignon blanc-pinot grigio ritual, I highly recommend this unusual yet approachable alternative.
And if you are into wine labels, you will enjoy all the offerings from Donnafugata.
Good: Integrated floral and fruit aromas
Bad: if you enjoy wines that are delicate or ethereal on the palate, you may find this wine a bit heavy.
Distinctive: Unique mouthfeel