Asti Quality Wines

Asti is located in the southeastern portion of the Piedmont region, in North West Italy. This area is famous in the world for its wines and in the DOCG are produces Italy's most famous sparkling wine. Asti Spumante shares this DOCG with a related wine, Moscato d'Asti, which is made similarly, but in a frizzante (instead of fully sparkling) style. In 1994, when Asti Spumante was upgraded to DOCG status, its name was simplified to Asti. The wines are made in a modified version of the Charmat or autoclave process. In this process the grape MUST is filtered and then stored in tanks at near freezing temperatures so that fermentation can't begin. The producers make batches according to demand so that the resulting wines can be as fresh as possible. To produce the wine, the must is allowed to warm and then is innoculated with yeast so that fermentation can begin. This process all occurs inside large sealed tanks so that the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation isn't lost. Once the desired alcohol and residual sugar levels are reached, the wine is rapidly chilled to stop fermentation. The wine is then filtered, bottled, and corked-ready for shipment. The main difference between the Asti Spumante DOCG wines and the Moscato d'Asti DOCG wines is that fermentation of Moscato d'Asti wines is stopped sooner so that the residual sugar content is higher, the alcohol level is lower, and the wine is less effervescent because less carbon dioxide is produced. Additionally, Asti Spumante is normally packaged like champagne with a wired-down cork, and Moscato d'Asti generally has the standard cork used by most still wines. The wines are made from the muscat grape (called Moscato Bianco or Moscato di Canelli in this region), and the resulting wine has a fresh grapey taste. Asti Spumante and Moscato d'Asti wines should be drunk young and fresh. Other DOC wines made in the region near the town of Asti include BARBERA D'ASTI and Dolcetto d'Asti.

On the second-third week of September, producers and buyers come together each year at Asti's Palazzo del Collegio and the marquee erected in its courtyard, to sample and to buy and sell. This is also a great opportunity for visitors to debunk the negative vibes associated with Asti Spumante and to try some of the really outstanding wines of the region. There are also exhibitions and demonstrations, many varieties of local dishes are on sale, and there are celebration dinners and musical entertainments in the evenings. Douja d'Or, the Cup of Gold, is a 22-carat affair that runs more or less in parallel with the spectacular Asti Palio, making this the place to be in September for wine and horse racing buffs.



Enrico Caprio