This article first appeared in Santé Magazine in August 2023
Moscato d’Asti is one of Italy’s most recognizable wines. It is a delicate, effervescent, and aromatic wine made from Moscato Bianco, which has been grown for centuries in northern Piedmont in the province of Asti. Moscato d’Asti’s popularity is attributed to its freshness and lightness, which makes it enjoyable at any time and during any season. Today the effervescent Moscato d’Asti is the world’s most widely consumed sweet wine.
Moscato D’Asti – Rich History
In Italy, Moscato is the first wine everyone begins with, a perfect aperitif due to its fragrant aromas, bright acidity and low alcohol. Many will say that Moscato d’Asti is not only a part of Italian history but also a part of the Italian DNA. Moscato d’Asti has an ancient and rich history. Moscato Bianco has been cultivated since ancient times. The Greeks called the variety Anathelicon Moschaton, while the ancient Romans renamed it Apiano because bees, or api, love its aroma”.
According to scholars, Moscato Bianco was planted in the Asti province around Canelli during the 12th century. The popularity of Moscato increased in Medieval times, especially when the Duke of Savoy stopped the importation of other grape varieties and decreed only local production of Moscato Bianco. This marked a turning point for Moscato, as Piemonte started producing some of the most prestigious wines in the region.
There are 500 years of viticultural history that is dedicated to Moscato Bianco, with 300 years of tradition to the original winemaking process. Moscato Bianco is cultivated on steep hillside vineyards that require manual hand harvesting.
The vinification process of Moscato d’Asti is a tradition that has been highly respected for 300 years. Experience and expertise are required to understand when the grapes should be harvested. Grapes are handpicked and quickly destemmed, followed by a gentle press. Once the must is created it is clarified and the must remains frozen until the winemaker decides to start fermentation. The must is fermented in a pressurized tank that releases carbon dioxide, resulting in fine bubbles that are trapped in the wine. The must is inoculated with yeast and then fermentation is stopped when it reaches 5% alcohol. When the producer is ready to release the wine, samples are sent to a panel of experts to review. Only then is the wine released with the DOCG label.
Moscato d’Asti is known for its richness and fragrant aromas. The region’s composition of soils, steep hillside terroir, unique microclimate, and natural fermentation give Moscato d’Asti its feminine and delicate fragrance. Sage, apricot, and white peach are the most predominant characteristics of Moscato d’Asti. A well-made Moscato d’Asti is aromatic, balanced, fresh, and very precise.
Moscato D’Asti – Five Wines To Try Now
I had the opportunity to taste and chat with five of the top producers of the region. Having been a lover of Moscato for years, I always find it impressive to see that it is a region that is predominantly filled with small family-owned wineries that make wines in small production. These low-alcohol wines make it perfect to sip as an aperitif. Its acidity makes it the ideal pairing with spicy cuisines like Chinese, Indian, or Thai. The freshness and sweetness of Moscato D’Asti also make it a great pairing with a dessert.
Coppo Moncalvina Moscato D’Asti D.O.C.G. 2022 has a straw yellow color that is slightly tinted with a greenish reflection. The nose is aromatic with floral notes along with peach and pear overtones. This light-bodied wine is fresh and aromatic and will pair well with cakes, cookies, and fruit-based desserts.
Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D’Asti D.O.C.G. 2022 shines bright in the glass with a brilliant straw yellow hue. The aromas exude from the glass with floral, peach and apricot notes typical of Moscato. The wine is delicately effervescent with purity and clarity on the palate. The mouthfeel is creamy and fresh. This beautiful wine has fantastic acidity and freshness and will pair well with Zabaione cream and traditional Meliga biscuits.
La Caudrina Moscato D’Asti D.O.C.G. 2022 is a lively wine that has a deep straw yellow color in the glass. The aromatics are delicate with a floral scent. The palate is sweet with bright acidity and fragrant notes. A perfect dessert wine that will pair with traditional Italian specialties like panettone and sponge cakes.
I Vignaioli Di Santo Ceretto Moscato D’Asti D.O.C.G. 2022 has a pale yellow hue. The bouquet is filled with sweet melon, orange blossom, jasmine, and honeysuckle. The balance between alcohol and sugar is perfect and is combined with mouth-watering acidity. In addition to sweets, cake, and ice cream, this wine pairs well with cheese, figs, melon, and Piedmont’s famed roasted hazelnuts.
Marenco Vini Scrapona Moscato D’Asti D.O.C.G. 2022 is golden yellow in the glass with an intense and persistent nose with hints of lime, apricot, orange blossom, and passion fruit. The flavor is fresh, elegant, and aromatic with fine and elegant bubbles. This is a perfect wine to serve as a welcome drink with friends, as well as an interesting aperitif paired with tempura, light cheeses, and spicy food. It is ideal with hazelnut cakes, panettone, fruit salads, macaroons, and zabaione.