WINES OF THE WEEK: The wines of Moscato D’Asti in Italy
Dwight Casimere | 9/10/2020, noon
-Compo Moncalvina Moscato D'Asti-$18.99
-Michele Chiarlo – $19.99 (half bottle)
-La Caudrina – $10.99
-Marenco Scrapona– $20.99
-I Vignaioli Santo Stefano/Ceretto – $15.99 half bottle
Moscato is most likely the first wine that many people experience in life either at a wedding reception or other family gathering, as a gift, or on a first date. As one wine writer surmised, "it's the gateway drug of the wine industry and, fortunately, one that we just can't stop drinking."
That fact was brought out with uncompromising clarity recently with five producers from the Moscato D' Asti DOCG.
Featured in a discussion about the wines, was Jeffrey Porter, Founder of Sip Trip Italy, who served as Moderator along with the producers of five wines from the region. Present via Zoom were Giacomo Pondini – Director of Consorzio d'Asti. Participating wine producers included Luigi Coppo - Coppo 1892, Marco Dogliotti – La Caudrina, Gianpiero Scavino – I Vignaioli di Santo Stefano/Ceretto, Andrea Costa –Marenco and Stefano Chiarlo – Michele Chiarlo.
All of the wines were from the Moscato d'Asti, a wine region in northwest Italy, produced primarily in the province of Asti. The wine is also produced in the smaller nearby provinces of Alessandria and Cuneo.
Located in the Montferrat of Piedmont, it is an area dotted with Medieval castles and steep hillside vineyards, most of which can only be navigated on foot. The ancient Tower of Montferrat looms over the region like an ancient sentinel guarding its storied treasures and dark secrets.
Winemaking goes back to the time of the ancient Romans, who called the area Apiana.
"The word for bees in Italian is Ah-pay (ape)," proffered Luigi Coppo of Coppo 1892. "The grape that is now called Muscato Bianco was first planted in the 12th Century. In Latin language, it was called Muscatellum. The region was called Ape (bees) because the bees would hover on top of the grape clusters because of their unique aroma."
Moscato bianco is the grape from, which Moscato d' Asti is made. It is one of the oldest grapes grown in the area. The sweet, low alcohol wine (usually around 5% alcohol) was originally reserved for the workers to refresh themselves during their midday meals or for just after the workday was done. The low alcohol wine could be had at any time of day without slowing the pace of the workers. Moscato d'Asti was also the wine of choice for the traditionally long, multicourse evening meals. The wine both cleansed the palate and stimulated the appetite for dessert.
The tasting session was a revelation. Although the wines were made from one grape, those from each of the five producers were distinct. The tasting proved the versatility of Moscato d'Asti and its ability to be paired with a diverse array of cuisines, from soft cheeses, to seafood, pastas and spicy dishes. The choice is as widely varied as your imagination will allow.
"Moscato d' Asti is the most widely consumed sweet wine in the world," Coppo emphasized. "The DOCG is also one of the largest and most diverse in the world. Moscato d'Asti is not only consumed as a dessert wine, it is also an everyday wine."