J. Rickards Muscat Blanc 2009

After what’s turning out to be a nearly endlessly delayed introduction to summertime – here it is, June already, and it’s still cloudy, cool, and altogether disappointing – I suppose it’s time to drink myself into summer, even if it’s technically not quite here yet.Richly spiced, with a shimmering overlay of nutmeg over pineapple, this pretty much does the trick, reminding me of an imaginary barbecue out back of the US embassy in Saigon shortly before the fall, or, rather, liberation of the city: there’s a smoky haze in the air, with suggestion of tropical fruits, spices, and something damn near approaching decadence.The taste of the wine makes a beautiful counterpart to what the nose suggests: instead of a fat, flabby, sugary wine, you’re instead treated to an unctuous, mouth-filling wine with keenly balanced acidity, Yes, there is a hint of sugar – or is it alcohol? – which is entirely appropriate for the style, but it’s miles away from simple, mindless muscat. The overall effect is not unlike doing something you shouldn’t with someone you shouldn’t be doing it with: you, serious wine drinker, are well aware of the societal repercussions of drinking muscat, but as soon as you taste this you really, really won’t care. All you’ll care about is making sure you get more out of the bottle than anyone else you’re sharing it with.J. Rickards
Price: $20
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Oddero Moscato d'Asti Cascina Fiori 2008

On the drive back home from a dear friend’s 35th birthday dinner, my partner and I were discussing what we’d like to drink. Sadly, the restaurant had a 500% markup on their wines, so even the lowliest Australian imported viognier was going for $40, so we had a beer and decided to hold out for something better. What sounded good? Something festive, something without too much alcohol to make tomorrow morning a slog… so how about a Moscato d’Asti? Five per cent alcohol, enough sparkle to add some Christmas spirit, and… well, how’s it taste?The wine smells of clover honey, rich and complex, with hints of spearmint and hay. It does  seem just a bit more complex than most moscato d’Asti I’ve had, though, with just a hint of an alkaline dryness. Vigorously bubbly in the mouth, perhaps just a bit too much for my tastes, the carbonation recedes eventually to reveal a fantastically delicate, balanced wine, not overly sweet, with a slightly herbal quality that shows well against the soft, honeyed texture. The finish stays with you for a long time indeed, again with a spearmint-orange peel character that’s absolutely charming.Somewhat more expensive than supermarket Moscato, sure, but worth it? Absolutely.Oddero
Price: $15
Closure: Other
Source: Sample