One of the sponsors of my trip was the Consorzio Tutela dell’Asti DOCG, the consortium of the wines of Asti. A recently introduced slogan and one repeated to us is, “’A proposito di una terra, un’uva, tre grandi vini” with the gist “A land with one grape and three great wines.” Now, from the area comprising 52 towns and villages and 25,000 areas represented by the consortium around the city of Asti in the region of Piedmont in northwestern Italy that sits between Milan and Turin, from the single grape of Moscato d’Asti, three wines are produced. These three wines are made entirely from the light and aromatic Moscato d’Asti grape, which is known in France as Muscat à Petits Grains and is also widely used in other countries.
From the most dry to sweetest, the three wines made from Moscato d’Asti are: Asti Secco, Asti Dolce, and Moscato d’Asti. The brand new Asti Secco averages just 17 grams of sugar per liter and these are about 11% alcohol by volume. Asti Dolce usually has between 90 and 100 grams of sugar per liter, and around 6-7% alcohol. Moscato is the third, and undisputed star of the appellation, and also the sweetest with roughly 120 to 130 grams per liter and just between 4.5% and 6.5% alcohol. Asti Dolce is what used to be Asti Spumante, though a little less alcoholic than in the past. The bubbles are naturally produced in the bulk Charmat Method or as it’s called in this part of Italy, the Martinotti-Charmat Method, as the Frenchman got the credit for what the Italian invented (a claim that does actually have some merit).
The three wines from one grape can be confusing. The speaker at an event sponsored by the consortium from Jancis Robinson’s site admitted as much. It’s all quite new, after all. The 2017 vintage of Asti Secco was the very first. If not as usually not as interesting as the wines of Moscato d’Asti, the Asti Dolce wines can work nicely as a digestivo, with its sweetness and notes of peach and lychee that are buttressed by welcome acidity, maybe with a dessert or fruit. Asti is just another example that the wines of the Old World are ever-changing.
And, though I didn't drink any Asti Spumante, I drink a lot of Asti, Secco and Dolce, and a lot of spumante, which is simply the Italian word for sparkling wine.
Old school Asti Spumante displayed at the Scarpa winery in Nizza Monferrato the other day