As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, the price reflects a 750-ml. bottle. If you’re a beverage professional with a specialty in wine and you’re interested in participating in the panel, please contact associate editor Kyle Swartz at email@example.com or 203-855-8499 x225.
Five Stars (92-100): A top-flight wine. Superior in taste and character and providing an outstanding price/value relationship.
Four Stars (86-91): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.
Three Stars (80-85): An above-average wine, at a reasonable price point, which many customers will enjoy.
(97) Castello Banfi, Florus Muscadello 2012 (Montalcino, Tuscany). Golden yellow in color, with great viscosity. The nose is highlighted by its dried fruit aspects, with a touch of spice. Good weight and a smooth texture on the palate are just part of its long, balanced, exquisite finish. ($30.99 per 500-ml.)
(96) Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Muscat (Alsace) 2013. Pale gold in the glass, the nose is dominated by fresh stone fruit with touches of spice and dried fruit. The palate is exceptionally well balanced, with the fruit and acid working in tandem on the lengthy finish. ($25.99)
(95) Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Goldert Grand Cru Muscat 2013 (Alsace). Muscat elegance at it’s finest. A real keeper! Delicate and floral, with a touch of minerality. Long, lingering finish. A pleasure to sip and savor. ($65)
(95) Botani Moscato 2014 (Malaga, Spain). An aromatic, full-flavored dry style, not “frizzante.” A bouquet of melon, peach, apricot and mandarin orange leads to bold, rich flavors of the same fruits that thoroughly coat the palate. The finish is crisp, quite dry and long. The wine is beautifully balanced, and is delicious by itself as an aperitif, but will complement seafood, pork, fowl, even curries, sate’s and Szechuan cuisine. 13.5% alc. ($18.99)
(95) Girasole Vineyards Muscat Canelli 2014 (Mendocino, Ca.). This marvelous wine is sure to delight aficionados of dessert wines, as well as wine-lovers, period. From handpicked, certified organic/vegan grapes from vineyards planted in the 1950s. Aromas of tropical fruits explode while pouring the wine. Intensely sweet flavors of mango, nectarine and orange abound, finishing with racy, refreshing acidity that balances the sweetness perfectly. Pair this with smoked salmon, curries, spicy Oriental foods, or even BBQ ribs. It’s perfect for dessert with fresh fruit or chocolate. 13.5% alc. ($14.99)
(95) Marchesi di Barolo Zagara Moscato d’Asti 2014 (Piedmont). Straw yellow, with hints of gold. The nose is comprised of orange blossoms, for which the wine is named. The palate echoes the nose, with the addition of stone fruit. Bright and clean, from start to the lingering finish. ($19)
(95) Coppo Moncalvina Moscato d’Asti 2014 (Piedmont). Straw yellow, with just a touch of green. The nose is all about stone and tree fruits, with floral undertones. The taste is clean, fruity, and nicely textured. ($18)
(95) Quady Electra Moscato 2014 (Madera,Ca.). Quady is famous for “Essencia,” a Muscat in the style of the Rhone Valley’s Beaume-Des-Venise. Electra is the low-alcohol style (4.5%), cold-fermented and chilled to stop the fermentation process. Fragrant and lushly sweet, with flavors of peach, apricot and orange zest. It’s easy to enjoy as a warm weather quencher, or will complement BBQ Ribs and chicken, roast pork or milder Oriental cuisine. Simply Delicious! ($15.99)
(95) Domaine de Durban Muscat. This is one of, if not the best, example for the money coming out of Beaumes de Venise. The fruit is perfectly concentrated, following booming aromatics, in this wonderful dessert wine. The vines are over 35 years old and it definitely shows in the quality. Yet another great wine being imported by Kermit Lynch. ($14.99 per 375-ml.)
(94) Vino Dei Fratelli Moscato d’Asti 2014 (Piedmont). Straw yellow in color, the nose is dominated by honeysuckle, with stone and tropical fruit notes. Bright, clean fruit on the palate, with a focused and balanced finish. ($17.99)
(94) Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato 2014. The argument continues each year about who makes the best Moscato, and Michele Chiarlo Nivole is always in the conversation. The fragrance of this wine takes center stage — the sweet fruits play like the orchestra, and the wonderfully full finish is the crescendo. You will for sure come back for the second act of this perfect Moscato performance. ($15.99 per 375-ml.)
(93) Vino Noceto Frivolo Moscato Bianco 2015 (California). Straw yellow, with a hint of gold. A lively fruit salad on the nose and palate, the wine is bright expression of Muscat, with all of the tastes and texture you would expect. ($17.99)
(92) Saracco Moscati D’Asti 2014 (Italy). Delightful with simple fresh fruit desserts and even blue cheese. Bright and inviting — not heavy on the palate. Delicate notes of apricot and honeysuckle. ($15)
(92) Domaine de Durban, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2014 (France). A lovely “vin doux naturel” that exudes much complexity. Flaunting apricot, caramelized orange peel, almond skin and beeswax, this is a treat for the senses. It’s oily texture and sweetness is gracefully carried on an undercurrent of fresh acidity. This will drink well for many years to come. ($15.49 per 375-ml.)
(92) Foss Marai Dolce Reale (Valdobbiadene). Golden yellow in color, a concentrated, light- bodied Moscato that has expressive aromas and flavors of dried peach, lychee and complex violet notes. The light sweetness, and darker dried fruit notes, are balanced and complementary. ($17)
(92) Mauro Sebaste Moscato d’Asti 2014 (Asti, Piedmont). Elegant yet approachable, this wine has well-defined acidity and structure to create an uplifting mouth fee. Great expressive fruit, sweetness, low alcohol, effervescence and an appealing freshness set this Barolo producer apart from other Moscato d’Asti wines. ($17)
(92) La Sirena 2015 (Napa, CA). Honeysuckle, lychee and peach predominate in this Heidi Barrett-creation. Muscat Canelli clones produce a dry, complex wine, beautifully balanced, with a touch of lime on the finish. ($28.95).
(92) Vietti Moscato D’ Asti Cascinetta 2015 (Italy). Pale sunshine-yellow in color with a slight frizzante, this Moscato d’Asti has intense aromas of peaches, rose petals and ginger. On the palate it is delicately sweet and sparkling with modest acidity, good balance, good complexity and a finish of fresh apricots. (13.99)
(92) Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat NV (Australia). This wine is a rare treat for the price and complexity. It has an amazing raisin/prune and burnt toffee combination that make it an amazing food-pairing wine. There is this very subtle port-like quality with this wine. Combined with all the amazing flavors, this gives the wine amazing depth. ($23.99)
(92) Elvio Tintero Moscato 2014. When it comes to Moscato, seeing a single-vineyard expression at this price and quality doesn’t happen very often. This wine will turn the “I don’t like Moscato” customers into Moscato believers. You get all of the great Moscato characteristics, the aromatics, sweet melon and fruity freshness, without the cloying sweetness that comes along with it. The well-balanced, clean finish will keep you coming back for more. ($12.99)
(91) Ceretto Moscato 2014. Long known for how great their Moscato is, Ceretto continues to release wines of the highest caliber. This year’s Moscato release is no different. A little bit more dialed back than some on the sweetness, Ceretto Moscato delivers on all fronts, hooking all wine–drinkers the second they take a taste. ($23.99)
(91) Resplandy (Muscat de St Jean de Minervois). A rich, mouth-filling — yet medium-bodied — Muscat with notes of lychee, apricot and apple blossom. Always the bold variety, this Muscat is intensely packed with dried fruit and fresh honey notes, and is a perfect dessert pairing or on its own. ($13)
(91) Domaine Achard Vincent,Clairette de Die, ‘Tradition’ NV (France). This is a fantastic sparkling summertime sipper that comes from a little-known corner of the Rhone and is raised bio-dynamically. Wonderfully fresh and vibrant, it lures you in with loads of ripe peache, brused pear and honeysuckle. Here, the sweetness is balanced by fine acidity, a chalky minerality and just the right amount of bubbles. ($24.49)
(91) Armani Moscato Spumante (Valdadige). Complex and interesting, yet still refreshing and smooth, with bright notes of peach, pear and apricot. The spumante mouth feel — and the floral and fruity flavors accompanied by a sweet finish — are balanced, distinct and leave you wanting more. ($16)
(90) 14 Hands Moscato 2013 (Washington State). Nice beginner Muscat. Not overly cloying — brimming with vibrant hints of orange blossoms. ($10)
(90) Robert Hall Orange Muscat 2014 (California). An energetic and bright wine that captures the essence of sweet and refreshing. The floral notes and gentle mandarin orange pop of fruit, combined with the vibrant acidity and the refreshing finish, make this the perfect first-course summer-meal wine. ($16.99)
(90) St. Supery Moscato 2014 (Napa Valley). This wine presents with brilliant pale yellows and youthful hints of green. Aromas of mandarin and peach blossom dominate, with notes of marmalade and orange zest. Flavors explode with a fruit basket of rich, exotic peach and nectarine with a citrus undercurrent and orange peel on the finish. Enjoy this bright, opulent, sweet wine. (22.99)
(90) Poquito Valencia 2015 (Spain). It doesn’t get any cuter than this! Moscatel de Alejandria from Valencia, Spain, all packaged in a soda pop bottle with a metal cap. Delicate floral, apricots and pears, super refreshing and just 5% alcohol. Great over ice. ($8.95).
(90) Terres de Muscat 2013 (Muscat de St Jean de Minervois). This bright, golden Muscat has rich, white flower aromas and tastes of apricot, fig and mango. The smooth texture and structure combined with the dried fruit note make this dessert wine versatile and balanced. ($12)
(90) Luna d’Or Moscato Frizzante (Veneto). A fizzy bright floral wine with generous notes of apple blossom, tangerine, and peach accompanied by a slight sweetness. It all fits in pleasantly and the wine feels focused yet easy, charming mouth feel helps round everything out. ($10)
(90) Marchese dell’elsa Moscato d’Asti 2015 (Asti, Piedmont). Citrus, peach, pear and orange blossoms are all well integrated into this crisp, sweet, fizzy wine. A healthy amount of acidity brightens the fruit and keeps the sweetness refreshing and lively. ($13)
(90) Mallee Point Moscato (Australia). The bright acidity, light body, and appealing sweetness are well integrated in this refreshing Australian sipper. Smooth and sweet with notes of peach, pear and apricot are well balanced and rich. ($7)
(89) Chambers Rosewood Rutherglen Muscat NV (Australia). This wonderful dessert wine offers a raisin and spice combination that is balanced out with nice acidity. The slightly syrupy texture gives the mouthfeel you want in a dessert wine but is not overwhelming to the palate. ($16.99)
(89) Romano Dogiotti, ‘La Caudrina’ Moscato di Asti NV (Italy). A thoroughly enjoyable wine that begs for a hot summer day. Peaches, nectarines and apple blossom in a perfectly frizzante and refreshing package. Quaffable at 5.5% ABV. ($20.49)
(89) Il Cortigiano Moscato Spumante (Italy). Light bodied and fresh, this Moscato has ample honey, mango and lychee notes to complement its sparkling nature. The smooth mouth feel, sweetness and low alcohol are nicely representative of this Moscato’s purpose and style. ($10)
(88) Barefoot Pink Moscato NV (California). Fun, sweet bubbly party wine. There’s a nice touch of acidity on the finish which makes it pair well with fresh fruit, ham and fried chicken. ($10)
(88) Corvo 2014 (Sicily). Produced since 1824, Corvo is a delicate, still Moscato full of white flowers and peaches. Vibrant and refreshing, this medium, sweet bargain is a great aperitif or a lovely accompaniment to fresh goat cheese. ($10.95)
(88) Cloud Break Moscato 2014 (California). Sweet honey flavors govern a peach mango base in this bright and quaffable wine. Smooth texture and mouth-coating viscosity bring it all together for this uplifting Moscato. ($9)