Moscato is one of the oldest grape in the world and there are plenty of mutuations that came up from this variety but the italian Moscato d’Asti is really a special one.
The name Moscato comes originally from Muscum that means musk referring to its typical aroma. The first evidences of Moscato dates back to the Romans who were used to drink “Moscatellum” during their meal.
The distinct perfume within the aromatic compounds made Moscato suitable for sweet styles since the ancient time and this is why it spread quickly all over the Mediterranean countries generating different clones.
Moscato, being resistant both to drought and cold temperatures, was planted in many zones of Italy and in Piedmont found the perfect habitat. In fact, in the “ Langhe zone” around Alba, the cool Mediterranean climate and the dry limestone soils help this variety to perform at its best. To regulate the viticulture of Moscato in that area in 1967 was created the appellation “ASTI DOC” that, since the beginning, distinguished between Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti.
Asti Spumante is a sparkling wine made only by white Muscat and is made by the Charmat method in stainless steel pressure tanks to better preserve its natural aromatic perfume. Asti Spumante is available both in sweet (mainly) or dry version; has to have a minimum ABV of 9% and it is quite aromatic on the palate. In 1993 Asti Spumante (as Moscato d’Asti) got the higher DOCG designation and , nowadays, is among the most famous Italian sparkling wine in the world within more than 50.000.000 bottles produced every year.
Moscato d’Asti is one of the most characteristic wines in Italy that is released almost exclusively by small or medium enterprises. After harvested, the grapes are softly pressed to obtain the must that, following few filtrations, is contained in stainless steel tanks at 0 degrees to prevent the fermentation. In fact, the fermentation happens only a few months later in stainless steel pressure tanks by the addition of yeasts and it is stopped by refrigeration ( -3 degrees) when the must reach 5,5% of alcohol to preserve the sugars left.
Moscato d’Asti on the nose is unique within notes of apricot, peach and whitethorn. On the palate is sweet but not excessively and the low alcohol along with the fine bubbles and the refreshing notes of sage make this aromatic wine intense and elegant at the same time.
As Moscato d’Asti is less sparkling than Asti Spumante and has only 5,5% of alcohol it is a wine very easy to enjoy. In fact Moscato d’Asti is highly appreciated in Italy but also in USA, Asia and northern Europe. Although the whole production remains less than Asti Spumante, in the last years has increased the demand for Moscato d’Asti reaching 35.000.0000 bottles released in 2019.
In terms of wine pairing Moscato d’asti is perfect for spicy food because the sugar contained forms protection on the gums that help to turn down the burning effect and make the food more enjoyable. A classic match would be with desserts or, as low in alcohol, could be drunk as an aperitif but is essential to keep the service temperature below 9 degrees to enhance the mouth feeling.
All stated above explains why Moscato d’Asti was meant to be a predestined successful wine and is more than likely to consider in the next years a steady increase in its production along with the international fame.
Author: Riccardo Pepi