Holiday Cheer with Spanish Moscatel!

Tagged: Barbadillo  •  Jerez  •  Moscatel  •  Sherry

Holiday Decadence:

All holiday feasts includes that oh so decadent dessert that makes you loosen a notch on your belt. I can't deny that I have a sweet tooth, and when these temptations are right in front of me, well ... I just have to dive in. I like the whole gamut from mince meat pie to fruit cake. Oh, lets not forget the holiday Christmas Pudding which is so revered in England! There's a lot of lore when it comes to this gooey steamed creation which incorporates nuts and dried fruits into the mix. Most often an alcohol beverage like a stout or brandy is added. A nice touch is to drizzle the top with brandy and light it. 


Although, I didn't get my Xmas pudding fix or mince meat pie, I did have a "home run" of a dessert at a Xmas Eve cocktail party. My dear friend Jenny and the host for the night replicated a Pot de Creme au Chocolat served in adorable demitasse cups. Thank God for the size restraint! I thought her rendition was close to spot-on as any French Brasserie's recipe. The host specifically asked me to bring a special dessert wine.  When I was shopping for that right wine, I didn't know what she was preparing for dessert, however, I wanted a unique beverage that wouldn't cost me an arm n' leg. I ended up selecting one of my favorites that not many people have tried or even have heard of for that matter. Thankfully, the wine paired nicely with dessert making a big hit of the party. The quality bittersweet chocolate melded well with the flamed raisin component of the wine. 


A Price Point Knock-Out:

The mystery wine was the Barbadillo Moscatel "Laura", Jerez, Spain n.v. for $20 in 750ml format. Price point is king when on a budget especially when you're off to a cocktail or dinner party where there's more than six guests on hand. It didn't make sense to bring a half bottle of Sauternes or Vin Santo which would be at least double the price. There's not many European dessert wines out on the market that has over 40 plus years of barrel maturation at such a reasonable price. A 30-40 y.o. Tawny Port would be triple the price,  and probably would of not been as appreciated by the crowd.  Of course, they are Moscatels from Portugal and Spain that come in half bottles that are further aged retailing for $100+, but I like the younger versions to pair with those sticky style desserts like a Xmas Pudding or a chocolate pudding dessert like a Pot de Creme or Creme Brulee. I would save an older Moscatel to match up with a triple aged cream cheese with glazed walnuts, proceeding to the patio to savor a cigar. The only other dessert wine category that can go toe to toe with a Moscatel would be an Australian sticky such as a Tokay Gris or Muscat bottling from the Rutherglen district of Victoria. I like the Moscatel for more acid to dried fruit balance over Aussie's prized nectar. I've had great success recommending this non-vintage selection to many of my clients over the years. I guarantee it's a slam dunk for those who crave the sweet stuff!

barbadillo labels- moscatel


Moscatel is a ancient grape whose lineage is part of the Muscat of Alexandria clone that can be found in parts of Spain (Jerez and Malaga), Portugal (Setubal), and the Island of Pantelleria off of Sicily where it's referred to Zibbibo. Certain Spanish Sherry houses produce a Moscatel, but the varietal is always overshadowed by the more prevalent Palomino and Pedro Ximenez that has been traditionally favored in the region. I feel Moscatel is Andalusia's best kept secret for a dessert style wine. It's less cloying than Cream Sherry as well as the wines made from the Pedro Ximenez which makes the most viscous and unctuous wine in the both Jerez and Montilla Moriles districts. The latter examples are too sweet to appreciate for many. I'm a sucker for this style, but Moscatel is less viscous and sweet, displaying a more subtle approach. The flowery nose on the entry leads to a mid-palate of chocolate covered raisins. This is not the Nestle's "Raisinets" palate profile, but a less sweet rendition. The finish is quite dry and reminds me more of a well made Amontillado and Oloroso Sherry. 




Like to buy the Barbadillo Moscatel? Try K&L Wine Merchant on line!




Taste well, 


Neil Mechanic

Founder of Vinogrape