Sparkling wine – Moscato d’Asti

What
A sweet, low alcohol, sweet sparkling wine.  Moscato d’Asti has much in common with Asti, including production area and methods and variety; but it is dominated by small artisan producers and is becoming more of a cru wine, is both sweeter, less sparkling (frizzante rather than spumante) and more like a dessert wine than Asti.

Where
A DOCG in north-west Italy, in the Region of Piemonte, in the Province of Asti.
Altitude 160-550m, with some very steep slopes.

Climate
Continental, but hilly, so relatively cool in the growing season.

Soils
Calcareous, or marl (calcareous clay).

Marketing
Since 2005, when it was adopted by hip-hop entertainers, there has been a boom in consumption.  It has become popular as a low alcohol drink at clubs and parties.

US sales increased by 70% in 2011, up 100% on 2010, sales are also picking up in UK and Australia (Nielsen).  California has been quick to take advantage of this rapidly growing market, Australia is a little behind (Decanter, Italy 2013) – see these countries’ sparkling notes, when I have written them.

The best wines – not too sweet, are becoming valued as an apéritif and a dessert wine.

Production
The complex topography lends itself to a number of small producers.
Current official production figures are elusive, but I have seen 3m bottles quoted, so two orders of magnitude less than for Asti.
Producers, said to be the smaller ones in Asti – there seem to be about 150 (Vinopedia), including Oscar Bosio, Cascinetta, La Caudrina, La Selvatica, La Galeisa and La Caudrina.

Moscato d’Asti is increasingly a cru wine, expressing individual terroirs, including vintage and  late harvest wines.

Viticulture
Restricted to hilltops and slopes – to achieve the highest sugar level.
It is not known as to whether there are growers dedicated to these higher levels of ripeness, though it seems logical that growers will have a range of exposures so as to be able to supply grapes for both Moscato d’Asti and Asti.
Moscato bianco, a white variety, aka muscat blanc a petit grains; produced as a varietal wine.
Minimum 4000 vines/ha.
Max yield 75hl/ha.

Vinification
Moscato d’Asti uses the ripest grapes, riper than for Asti, to give the abv and residual sugar required by the style.

The freshly pressed sweet must is stored in stainless steel tanks at 0C, so that fresh wine can be made on demand throughout the year.

The wine is made using the Asti Method, a variation on the tank method, in that a still dry base wine is not used. Rather, the juice is fermented to between 4.5-5.5% abv, then chilled to arrest fermentation, membrane filtered to remove remaining yeasts, and bottled.
This gives a stable, sweet (10% potential alcohol), sparkling wine, with a pressure of not more 1 atm (WSET), though I have seen a DOCG at 1.7 atm.
No MLF, to preserve acidity.
Trapezoidal shaped cork closure seen; DOCG states a standard cork.

Ageing
None.
Best consumed as young as possible, certainly within 2 years, as geraniol, an important flavour compound when fresh, but becomes unpleasant with age.
Most are not vintage dated.

Style
A varietal, low alcohol, sweet and fruity, gently sparkling wine.

Tasting note 
Pale lemon, large bubbles and tears.
Medium intensity, youthful, with aromas of honey, ripe quince, apricot and tinned yellow peach.
A sweet wine, with medium, balancing medium acidity, low alcohol, a medium (+) body with medium (+) intensity flavours of peach, apricot, fresh-cut grass and ripe quince.
A creamy mousse, with a  medium (-) persistence, with a long length.

The closure was cork, but trapezoidal shaped, rather than the mushroom used with Asti.

References
Belfrage, N. (2004). Barolo to Valpolicella, Mitchell Beazley.

Updated: 15/11/16

About citbp

I am interested in everything about wine, from site selection to tasting.
This entry was posted in ITALY, italy piemonte, SPARKLING WORLDWIDE. Bookmark the permalink.

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