Spring is around the corner, and visions of the sun on our skin and fresh grass beneath our feet are starting to come to fruition. And what pairs perfectly with this sun-kissed mental image? A glass of crisp, sparkling wine in hand.
And who better to accompany this daydream than either of these two renowned wines, the Asti Spumante DOCG (one of the world’s best-known aromatic sparkling wines) and the Moscato d’Asti DOCG (the light and fizzy version). These imported Italian luxuries are considered perfect pairings for basically any occasion — and they’re available in Canada.
Using 100% Moscato Bianco grapes from the Asti area in the Piedmont region — a great place for growth due to the soil and climate — the wines’ crisp and fresh qualities paired with their low alcohol content makes them the perfect choice for use in cocktails or on their own to accompany a meal. Looks like we’ve found our newest go-to companion.
The sparkling duo originates from the first Italian wine landscape, the Unesco heritage site of Langhe Roero Monferrato. Both batches are among the few wines in which the sensory qualities of the grapes remain unaltered, as a result of soft pressuring and an incomplete alcoholic fermentation process.
The vineyard grows vast amounts of white berries. It resides in Piedmont, Northwestern Italy, in the hills of the provinces of Asti, Cuneo, and Alessandria — a unique area famed for its wines.
Their know-how has been handed down through generations, and it’s this storybook setting and deep history that conceived of the two famous batches that people all over the world now want to get their hands on.
Think musky flavours, well-balanced sweetness, slight acidity, and a moderate alcohol percentage — that’s what you can look forward to with this wine.
This bubbly wine is made entirely from Moscato Bianco grapes which benefit from the chalky soil and the microclimate typical of the hilly area.
The story of the batch began in the mid-19th century, when Carlo Gancia returned from a trip to Champagne, France, and applied the techniques he had learned of bottle fermentation and produced the first Asti Spumante from Moscato Bianco grapes — which in no time found high acclaim in both Italy and abroad. The method was then imitated by other wineries in the area, which then transformed it into one of Italy’s most recognizable wine and spumante-making districts.
The concentration of the fine aromatic substances that are produced by the Moscato Bianco grapes peak in the final few weeks before the grapes are harvested in early September. At Asti DOCG territory, most of the harvesting is still done by hand to keep the bunches whole and preserve the striking aroma of the grapes. Many of the wineries have such significant slopes that they can’t even accommodate the use of machines for operations.
Asti wines are known to be characterized by particularly fine and persistent beading. They offer a fresh mouthfeel that makes it suitable as a full-meal pairing wine. With this batch, you may notice a delicate floral (acacia, lavender, sage) and fruity (apple, pear, banana) bouquet of scents and flavours.
The Moscato D’Asti DOCG is one of the most characteristic products of the Piedmontese wine tradition and is the sister wine of Asti Spumante, according to Asti Wines.
This wine has a distinctively intense musky aroma, offering a delicate flavour of peach, apricot, sage, lemon, and orange blossom — it’s also reminiscent of wisteria and linden.
This batch features some residual sugar, low alcohol content, and is not as bubbly as its sparkling sibling, as it only undergoes partial fermentation. The vineyard uses cold chain technology in the production process, meaning that the aromas and flavours of the grapes are preserved and the product can be stabilized, making it ready for storage and transportation.
Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti DOCG exemplify the versatility of Moscato Bianco grapes — they’re ideal for making high-end aromatic wines and wines with less residual sugar, that can be enjoyed on any occasion.
To learn more about Asti DOCG wines and to discover where you can find them in Canada, visit the Consorzio dell’Asti website.