Eight brilliant Astis from the Global Sparkling Masters 2022
If there was one region that stole the show in the Global Sparkling Masters 2022, it was Asti DOCG, with this corner of Italy pocketing 56 medals for its entries. Here’s why you should pop a bottle or two…
Whether it’s Asti Dry or Asti Dulce, the sparkling wines from Asti DOCG wowed in our annual blind tasting of sparkling wines from across the globe.
Italy’s original sparkling hero, Asti Spumante, and its sister expression, Moscato d’Asti, have been overshadowed by the Prosecco boom in recent years. But that is starting to change and the 2021 vintage expressions that the drinks business sampled for its most recent Global Sparkling Masters competition were exceptional.
Bottles of Asti released onto the domestic Italian market were up by 20% from January to March 2022 compared with the first three months of 2021, while shipments to the US grew by 25% over the same period, according to Giacomo Pondini, director at the Asti DOCG consorzio.
“And in the UK it has been growing a lot during the past two to three years,” adds Pondini, who reveals that 43 million bottles of the region’s total 103 million bottle production during 2021 was the lighter, sweeter Moscato d’Asti, with half the fizz and no more than 5.5% ABV.
Indeed, Patricia Stefanowicz MW – one of the members of the judging panel which tasted hundreds of fizz samples, with no prior knowledge of the wines’ provenance or price point – hailed Moscato d’Asti as being “the grand finale at the end of the sparkling show.”
“These wines are medium-sweet in style, softly sparkling in texture, light in alcohol and fine in body weight…”
“These are the prima ballerinas of sparkling wines,” she said.
Both the DOCG’s dry and sweeter expressions hail from the chalky soils of the hilly uplands in South Piedmont, around the towns of Asti, Alba and Cuneo. The Moscato grape is ideally suited to the microclimate, producing delicate, musky and aromatic wines, with a good balance of sweetness and acidity. The region produces its fizz from around 10,000 hectares of planted vineyard.
Metodo Classico wines must undergo a second fermentation in bottles, while Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti are fermented in pressurised tanks or autoclaves using the Martinotti method.
Prior to 2017, all fully sparkling Asti was required to be dolce, and the maximum alcohol level was 9.5%. Changes in 2020 opened the doors for all sweetness levels and removed the maximum alcohol level limit.
In 2021, the consorzio signed a three-year sponsorship deal with tennis’s ATP Tour, which plans more than 60 professional tournaments all over the world; a move that has further boosted the visibility of its wines on the global stage.
Below are our pick of the best Astis from The Global Sparkling Masters 2022, with tasting notes provided by Patricia Stefanowicz MW.
Esploro Asti Secco DOCG (Gold)
Bosca has been producing aromatic spumante wines in the hills around the picturesque city of Asti – it has a Romanesque-styled cathedral – in Piemonte since 1831. A very pretty example, this 11%-ABV wine has a pale lemon-yellow colour with slightly random bubbles. The nose, with intriguing pineapple and floral grapey fruit accented by a hint of earthy yeast, leads to a semi-dry, savoury palate with crisp acidity, light body and good length. An easy-drinking glass for Sunday afternoons. RRP: £8.
Tenuta Langasco Moscato d’Asti DOCG (Master)
The three-generation agricultural family behind Tenuta Langasco Azienda Vitivinicola has been growing grapes and making wine in the hills of Mango in the heart of Moscato d’Asti, since in 1979 Tenuta Langasco bought the romantic Cascina Langasco near Alba in Madonna di Como, Langhe. From here the family and its partners produce and distribute a variety of Piemontese wines. This one, made and bottled at Azienda Viticoltore Sacco Claudio, is gorgeous. With a pale lemon-green colour and continuous streams of tiny bubbles and narrow cordon, the 2021 vintage of this 100% Moscato Bianco wine shows intense peaches and Moscato grape aromatics with complexity from hints of lemon zest and fresh bread. Medium-sweet, as it should be, the wine has excellent concentration and zippy acidity in balance. A classic example of this light style (just 7% ABV), with a very long finish. Perfect with pistachio gelati and lady-finger biscotti while sitting in a piazza in Italy, or elsewhere. RRP: £9.
Cantina La Maranzana Moscato d’Asti DOCG (Silver)
Located in the heart of Monferrato in the village of Maranzana, Cantina La Maranzana is surrounded by vine-covered rolling hills. This delectable Moscato d’Asti from the 2021 vintage shows a pale lemon-green colour with small bubbles and a frothy cordon. Semi-sweet with peaches and grapes at the forefront, the wine is light bodied and creamy, with crisp acidity giving structure. Lovely fruit definition that will work with almost any dessert, maybe a light tiramisu. RRP: £9.
Bosio Moscato d’Asti DOCG 2021 (Gold)
This family winery exudes excellence throughout its range of almost every Piemontese wine imaginable, and this 2021 Moscato d’Asti is a gem. Very pale lime-green in hue with a narrow cordon, the wine has impeccable aromatics of peach, grape, white flowers and orange blossom. Semi-sweet, the palate shows light body, lively acidity, plush texture and a lingering finish. Very light alcohol (5.5%) is a bonus. RRP: £9.50.
Capetta Asti Dolce DOCG NV (Gold)
From the often difficult to cultivate sorí (crus) near Monferrato, where the best Moscato grapes are grown, comes this delicious and approachable Asti made by Capetta. Pale lemon-lime in hue and frothy, the wine shows white cherry and grapey flavours with subtle butter and clay-like accents. Like most Asti, the wine is semi-sweet, in this example, with medium body and good concentration balanced by bright acidity followed by a long, plush-textured finish. RRP: £9.
Azienda Agricola Fabio Perrone Moscato d’Asti DOCG 2021 (Gold)
Perfectly trained vines are why this beautiful wine shows the character of Moscato Bianco grown in Santo Stefano Belbo and surrounding hillside sites. Pale lemon-green in colour, slightly frothy, as it should be, the wine is ethereal in style with yellow roses; English garden with an herbal note, and a hint of fresh yeast. Semi-sweet, the wine has light body and fresh acidity, with good definition and length. Could be a superb choice for a garden party. Its also just 5.5% ABV. RRP: £16.
Marchesi di Barolo Zagara Moscato d’Asti DOCG 2021 (Gold)
This sparkling wine is an excellent sample of why this artisanal style of Piemontese wine, Moscato d’Asti, deserves a place in everyone’s repertoire. Floral, with peach blossom and orange zest on the nose, the palate has juicy flavours and light body with bright acidity and velvet-textured mousse adding a little structure. A heady finish, reminiscent of honeysuckle. Delightful. Drink now, though, as these very fresh fruity styles are not normally wines for ageing. RRP: £12.
Azienda Caudrina Moscato d’Asti DOCG La Galeisa 2021 (Gold)
In the pretty village of Castiglione Tinella, within the cooler part of the Moscato vineyard area, the Dogliotti family produces this excellent example of Moscato d’Asti from a single vineyard. Pale lemon-green with small bubbles, the wine has silky-textured mousse, lively acidity and orchard fruits with a hint of lime zest across the palate. An elegant, light-bodied style (5.5% ABV) with exceptional concentration and length. RRP: £12.