Seven reasons why I love Moscato d’Asti

A line up of Asti and Moscato d'AstiLook, I’m not after anything serious. Let’s just flirt and enjoy each other’s company – we don’t have to be relationship material do we? We both know it feels good . . . oh but it does feel good.

I love your undemanding effervescence, your fresh, charming yet captivating perfume – mmm, elderflowers, grapes, peach blossom.

Well go on then, another glass . . .

 

 

 

1. Nothing else goes better with breakfast on a Sunday morning

This is especially true if your Saturday night was a little “large” – the gentle bubbles and fresh sweetness will invigorate and coax you back to life.

2. Bang for buck, it’s hard to beat

Moscato d’Asti’s extremely low alcohol (4.5-7.5%) helps it evade the worst excesses of our tax and duty laws. Combine that with a definite lack of scarcity (some 100m bottles a year roll out of the region), and it’s always going to be affordable – £7 is all you need to spend.

3. A wine that really tastes of grapes

Moscato (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, to be specific about Asti’s sub-variety) is perhaps the only grape that really has a strong grapey aroma and flavour. Good Moscato d’Asti should have exuberant grapiness, as part of its fresh, floral and sometimes honeyed character.

4. Forget Tuscany – Asti’s vineyards are a bucolic heaven

Asti might be a relatively mass produced wine, but the grapes must be grown on hills at reasonable altitude – typically between 200-500m. The vineyards form a picturesque patchwork quilt, as they coincide with each other at unlikely angles.

5. It’s not something you have to take seriously

Even though Moscato d’Asti has Italy’s highest quality wine categorisation (DOCG), it can safely be enjoyed as (or provide an accompaniment to) unabandoned frivolity.

Ca' ed Balos bottle

6. But it’s not all mass-produced froth.

Try La Spinetta’s Moscato Bricco Quaglia 2012 for a supremely elegant, mineral example (available in the UK from Roberson) or the almost herby, honeyed Ca’ ed Balos Moscato d’Asti 2012 (Available in the US and Italy but not the UK).

7. You will love me for writing this

The great (if slightly bonkers) Tim Hanni MW bemoans the fact that wine experts often ridicule those who only like sweet wines. At this year’s Digital Wine Communications Conference, he proffered “if someone starts writing about sweet wines, and fills the gap for all those people who thought wine was not for them, they deserve to become a rock star”.

I will therefore now shoot to fame overnight. Thank you Tim.

Moscato d'Asti vineyards

 

Note: there are 3 confusingly similar classifications for Moscato produced in Piedmont. “Asti” is the most basic quality, produced as a “spumante” with a champagne cork and between 7-9% alcohol. “Moscato d’Asti” (which I refer to in this article) is sweeter and softer, being just “frizzante” and with only 4.5 – 7.5% alcohol permitted (the fermentation is interrupted, and the wine chilled and filtered earlier, to achieve this).

Finally, there is “Moscato d’Asti Canelli”, something like a grand cru of Asti and only made in or around the village of Canelli. To be frank, when I tasted a selection of 20 or so examples in July 2013, I struggled to pick out the supposedly higher quality in the Canelli wines.

All the examples I reference in the article were 2012s. But this isn’t a wine that has massive vintage variation, and it’s made for drinking very young. So no need to get cut up on the vintage.

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    13 thoughts on “Seven reasons why I love Moscato d’Asti

      • I don’t think I can answer that, I’ve maybe had some in the cellar for 6 months or so, and it’s been fine, but I suppose it would lose its fresh appeal within a year or so – think young, fresh, fruity white wines.

        Maybe someone else can jump in here and update us?

        • Thanks! I bought a bottle some time ago and thought I should keep it “for the right occasion” (big mistake – has languished in cellar until I came across it very recently) and now not sure if it will be any good.

          I hate to admit it, but it is a 2009, but from Vajra, so maybe still ok.

          I ask because very often we are told to drink certain wines “young” yet they CAN age – like Vinho Verde for example.

          Just noticed that some on cellar tracker have rated same vintage highly recently … but not sure whether to trust they rated the correct vintage

          • Interesting – great producer, I actually didn’t know they made a Moscato d’Asti.

            In my experience many wines like this *can* age (=still remain drinkable), but it’s a moot point as to whether they become more enjoyable or not. For me, the joy of Asti is the freshness and florality – not qualities that I would expect to last much beyond a year after release, although of course they would be replaced by other, potentially more complex or intriguing characteristics.

            • From my experience, Moscato d’Asti does not keep at all. I had recently some from 2012, and they already lost their freshness.

            • Dear Simon,
              You are right, most Moscato d´Asti DOCG does not age and needs to be drunk within one year. Their freshness is their strong point so one should not keep this wine.

              Some bottles even might have lost some of their freshness within one year. But there are definitively examples that may take longer, but they are rare.
              A good one is Forteto della Luja´s Moscato d`Asti. I have very good experiences with that wine. Another good one is the Moscato from Braida. Both you may drink also after two or three years, when most colleagues have lost all their quality.

              And an extreme one is the Moscato d´Asti of Marco Bianco which defitively can be drunk also after more than two years.

              More on Moscato you can read in my book:
              Piemonte Wine and Travel Atlas

      • So today I opened a 2011 Elio Perrone Moscato d’asti that got lost at the back of the cellar. Still enjoyable, but with a distinctive cideryness that wouldn’t be there in a fresh example. Interesting, but not optimal I’d say.

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