Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Asti Docg aka Spumante

Asti Docg label by Romano Levi

Asti Docg or more commonly Spumante as it is usually called in Italy, is the sparkling sweet wine par excellence!
It is made of Moscato bianco grapes and it is low in alcohol; in fact, unlike champagne, its bubbles are produced in a single tank fermentation following the Charmat method. Its sweetness is retained through a complex filtration process. 
The same wine region produces another sweet wine with the same Moscato bianco grapes: Moscato d'Asti which is only slightly frizzante or sparkling. 

Some Asti DOCG facts

- it's been a DOCG since 1993
- color: straw yellow with golden hues
- perlage: fine and persistent
- bouquet: aromatic, fruity, lime, sage and honey
- vinification: soft pressing with must divided into three parts. only the best part produces Asti DOCG. The must ferments at 5.5C/42F. The second fermentation takes place at -2C/28.4F
- alcohol content: 7.5%
- serving temperature: 8-10C/46.5-50F
- serving glass: the flute
- conservation: in a shaded cellar at 11-15C/52-59F, at a humidity of 65-70%

Producers of Asti Docg consortium

Asti DOCG history

Even though the Moscato bianco grapes have always been found in Piedmont along with Nebbiolo, which is the oldest grape in the region, the first sparkling Asti was produced around 1870 by Carlo Gancia.
Carlo Gancia had studied the champagne method in France and brought the method over to his hometown, Canelli where the wine popularity grew so quickly that Moscato Bianco became a synonym of Muscat Canelli still printed on the wine labels today.
Asti Spumante became very popular in the USA after WWII, when the soldiers brought their taste for a lighter and sweet wine back home. 
Because of the high demand, many producers turned to the Charmat method that makes the wine sparkling through a close fermentation in a tank, instead of a secondary fermentation in the individual bottle the wine is sold in, just like it happens for Champagne.

The Asti DOCG secret

As for all our Piedmont wines, the soil composition, the sun exposure of the vineyards, the climate, the water and the handpicking technique are all essential elements to make such an amazing wine.
In fact, in the last few weeks before the harvest, the Moscato bianco grapes produce some precious aromatic substances that reach its highest concentration in the single grapes at the beginning of September. In order to preserve this concentration levels, even today the grapes are handpicked so that the wine will keep the full aroma of all the area.
In any Asti DOCG you can recognize acacia flowers scent, wisteria, orange blossoms, spicy honey notes reminding you of bergamot and elderflowers.

It is interesting to notice that all the floral aromas, fruity flavors and acidity perfectly balance the overall sweetness of this wine.
Asti wine has the characteristic muskiness of a Muscat based wine but it isn't too sugary sweet; in fact, it is rather fruity and evocative of perfectly ripe fruits such as peaches and apricots.
Asti is usually consumed young and close to the vintage, because after 2 years it quickly loses its freshness, becoming heavier and richer in body.

Asti DOCG food pairings

As a sweet wine it is ideal with any dessert: fruity tarts, pies and fruit salads.
Needless to tell you, this is the wine many Italians drink when eating their Christmas cake of choice: panettone (looks like a huge muffin) or pandoro (looks like a Christmas tree and it doesn't contain any raisins or candied fruits).
Despite its sweetness though, because of its acidity, Asti is a very versatile wine and it can also be paired with aperitif, spicy Asian specialties and salads.

the customary Asti Docg, panettone and cream for the Holidays

Happy Holidays dear friends, may you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2015!
We naturally hope you can make it over to Turin next year, so you can try all our amazing wines paired with our traditional recipes!

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