At the Simply Italian Americas Tour in Ft. Lauderdale, I attended a food and wine pairing seminar moderated by local wine critic and judge, Lyn Farmer. He led a panel of 7 Asti wine producers discussing the different styles of Asti wines and how they pair with food.
The one thread all 3 styles have in common is they are based on the same grape, Moscato Bianco. Moscato we learned is the oldest grape still in production after 2,000 years. And it yields 3 styles: sparkling, dry and sweet still wine.
The Moscato Bianco is the Muscat Petit Grain that makes superb sweet wines in Southern France. In Italy there are 20,ooo acres devoted to this grape, with 4,000 companies producing some 80 million bottles annually.
Geologically, this area in Northern Italy was under the ocean some 10 million years ago. That helps explain the minerality of the wine. In fact you can still see seashells in the soil.
Here are the wines we tasted and my comments:
Asti DOCG Extra Dry Bric Prima Bella by Matteo Soria: a wine with 11 grams of sugar or 1.1% residual sugar, faint Moscato aroma but prominent Moscato taste, high acidity balanced by sugar, and a long finish;
Asti DOCG Dolce Perlino: this wine from an established family winery is exactly what its name indicates: sweet, with up to 35 grams of sugar/liter, pale yellow color, intense aromatic notes of the grape, only 7% alcohol, great with desserts or by itself;
Asti DOCG Dolce Valamasca by Vinchio Vaglio Serra: a coop with 170 members, hints of orange flower, peach and apricot, again with only 7% alcohol
Moscato d’Asti DOCG Abbazia di Gaudenzio 2018: a green edgy flowery aroma, pale yellow and only 5.5% alcohol, great acid/sugar balance;
Moscato d’Asti DOCG Cascina Ciuché 2018: only 2,500 bottles produced, straw yellow color, aromatic Moscato aroma, intense flavor, a very good value at $15;
Moscato d’Asti DOCG Centive 2018 by Tenuta Olim Bauda, the wine undergoes a few hours of skin contact, pale almost white color, intense aromas and taste of apples, pineapple and honey, only 5% alcohol , 140 grams of sugar! but expertly balanced, a steel at $15;
Moscato d’Asti DOCG Canelli Vignot 2018 by Azienda Terrabianca, also 140 grams of sugar, but great acidity makes it well balanced, 5% alcohol, another great deal at $15