What Makes Moscato d'Asti Special?

Freshness and delicacy are just the beginning


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What Makes Moscato d'Asti Special? Moscato, it’s all the rage these days. But do you really know what you’re drinking? Could it be that what you’re drinking is just sweet wine labeled as Moscato? I’m not about to say that the only true Moscato is Moscato d’Asti, but what I will say is that there is no better Moscato!

Moscato of course is simply the name of the grape, a Muscat grape. It is this grape that brings the floral aromas, with roots traced back to Italy’s province of Asti and the village of Canelli in particular. Though often referred to as Moscato Bianco, among its many aliases, this grape should be famous as Moscato Canelli!

What makes Moscato d’Asti special you ask? Well, it’s many things all rolled up into one, but it starts with the perfect adaptation over centuries to the home turf. Layer in a unique terroir with precipitously steep south facing hillsides, manual harvesting of all grapes,  and the gentle sparkling nature of the wine, and you have freshness and delicacy that other Moscato producers can only dream about.

The region’s other famous sparkler, Asti (formerly known as Asti Spumante) is fully sparkling. Asti has both a higher alcoholic content and less sweetness than Moscato d’Asti, even though it is made from the same Moscato Canelli. So kick back this holiday season and drink something festive and delicious. Try the true Moscato. Oops did I say that? Moscato d’Asti!

Photo courtesy Ristorante Cannon via Flickr/CC

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  • Snooth User: pozzo5
    136482 3

    You left out one of the best and most consistent Moscato D'Astis; SARACCO.

    Dec 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

  • Snooth User: LaurasMom
    306913 19

    The Cupcake Moscato D' Asti is very good.

    Dec 28, 2011 at 12:58 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
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    I'm the one who mocks people who have to know the alcohol content before they try a wine. However, I have to comment that the ABVs on all these wines are remarkably low. I assume that is a characteristic of Moscato d'Asti. What makes it so low? Is it an intention step in the winemaking tradition?

    Dec 28, 2011 at 3:02 PM

  • Snooth User: rjkrebs
    915686 0

    Moscato d'asti Is lower in alcohol because they stop fermentation early, hence the extreme sweetness of these wines. Not a huge moscato fan, but Americans have fallen in love with the sweetness and drink ability of this wine.

    Dec 28, 2011 at 11:12 PM

  • Snooth User: Giacomo Pevere
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    @Emark, Moscato have a low alcohol content because is not produced with dried grapes. Moscato have more or less same sugar as any other grape variety but to produce a sweet wine u need to stop fermetation, some sugar become alcohol, some sugar are saved. Moscato d'Asti, sparkling wine, have another difference with any other sparkling wines. Moscato d'Asti have just one fermentation, both Charmat or Champenoise have two, to save primary flavors in the same time the only fermentation transform sugar to alcohol and get bubbles.
    Moscato haven't added sugar like other spakling wines.

    @GdP i love Moscato d'Autunno - Saracco but i really like La Caudrina - La selvatica, my favourite wine dealer have it and i really enjoy it lot of times!

    Dec 29, 2011 at 3:28 AM

  • Snooth User: EMark
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    RJ, Jack--Thank you for the information. That was along the lines that I expected.

    Dec 29, 2011 at 1:13 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
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    Agree with you about the moscato, rjkrebs. My daughter liked the spumante, dryer version 10 years ago, drinking them as a mid-to-late teenager in Italy, but her tastes have evolved to different wines these days.

    And Greg, I certainly won't agree that the best muscat wines in the world come from Asti. You're missing Greece, Spain and other places where good versions appear. However if you want to say the best 'moscato' (meaning Italian) version, then I won't fight you too hard... ;-)

    Dec 30, 2011 at 3:50 AM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
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    Am also curious about your points scheme, Greg. Lot of commentary about how numbers are going up even higher after Galloni took over from Parker. '94 is the new 90', was one headlinish comment I saw recently. Does this pressure you? Come now, 92 for a Moscato? Is it that good relative to all other wines, or just to other Moscatos? I haven't had that wine, but am exceedingly curious.

    Dec 30, 2011 at 3:55 AM

  • Snooth User: Giacomo Pevere
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    @dmcker: Moscato d'Asti is not the only moscato wine of italy, is a unique kind of product, many other wine are produced with moscato grape but no one is like Moscato d'Asti, for example Zibibbo di Pantelleria (sometimes called as Passito di Pantelleria) is produced with Moscato d'Alessandria grape. Is a completely different wine produced with withered grapes. Of course there's a lot of great wines around the world produced with moscato (i have tasted great Moscato di Samos) but i think the point of GdP is that Moscato d'Asti is the only wine that respect original variety character. If u have ever tasted a moscato berry u can understand what he mean.

    Jan 02, 2012 at 9:33 AM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
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    Thanks for your explanation, giacobbe, but I still won't agree with the view that Moscato d'Asti is the only muscat wine that reflects the original varietal's character, and somehow is thus the best in the world. I've spent time in Pantelleria at a friend's place, so know the zibibbo of which you speak, and its differences. The muscat from Samos can be very good, yes. I've probably only had a couple dozen bottles of moscato d'Asti, but I'm just not feeling it the way you and Greg describe.

    I also laughed, apropos my query above about Greg's points scheme, when I read the Jan. 5 Dr. Vino blog...
    "Is inflation crippling wine scores? In the near future, will it take a wheelbarrow of points to sell a Moscato?"

    Jan 07, 2012 at 1:59 PM

  • Snooth User: Giacomo Pevere
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    Maybe i use wrong words, sorry, what i mean beafore is that i agree with GdP about Moscato d'Asti reflect original variety character but i never say Moscato d'Asti is the best moscato wine. That's completely different! Moscato d'Asti is an easy to drink, fresh, varietal wine and can't have complexity and body of many other moscato around the world. It's a unique product but not necessarily the best.

    Jan 09, 2012 at 9:53 AM

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