Moscato D’Asti, DOCG

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Asti, DOCG is second only to Chianti among Italy’s classified wines in volume. Moscato is Italy’s oldest documented varietal and may well be the oldest mentioned grape variety in the world. Since the Greek and Roman eras, Moscato has been immensely popular, both as a wine and table grape. The reason is obvious. It’s delicious, with nuances of peaches, apricots, orange blossoms and orange peel. It is sweet with mouth cleansing freshness and acidity.

Canelli, near Alba, Asti, and not far from Torino, in Piemonte, is the hub of Moscato production. The hills are steep and stretch throughout three provinces, Asti, Cuneo and Alessandria. The soil is rich in minerals. This is the only DOCG zone for Moscato D’Asti and Asti Spumante.

Process is as important as geographic position. Both Asti Spumante and Moscato D’Asti are fermented in autoclaves; that is, pressurized stainless steel tanks. This system was first developed by Federico Martinotti and later patented by Eugene Charmat, after whom the process is named. When the alcohol level reaches 5 to 6 degrees, the tank is chilled to arrest fermentation. The result for Moscato D’Asti is a retention of aromas and a light carbonation at the level of frizzante. Asti Spumanti has more atmospheres and effervescence, and is fully sparkling (spumante).

Moscato D’Asti is so light in alcohol that it is not considered a wine by the U.S. government. Try Moscato D’Asti with biscotti, cakes or sorbetto. On December 26, the feast day of St. Stephen, patron saint of Canelli, Italians drink the new vintage of Moscato D’Asti with panettone, a holiday, festive bread like cake. Pour Moscato over fresh fruit.

Enjoy Moscato D’Asti young and cold. Serve it in Champagne flute glasses. Look for brand names like Saracco, Bera, Rivetti, Marco Negri, Vietti’s Cascinetta or Ceretto’s Vignaioli di Santo Stefano, among others. In 1995 both Asti Spumante and Moscato D’Asti were elevated to DOCG.

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