Asti Spumante – Sweet Sparkling Wine
Today known as Asti DOCG, Asti spumante is a sparkling sweet white wine. This wine dates back to the 1500s and was first described in the records of the court of Savoia in 1606. The first sparkling version, in 1860, is attributed to Carlo Gancia, considered the father of Spumante. The production method is that of the champenois. There were many difficulties to overcome when making a sweet sparkling wine. The fermentation had to be stopped when the wine was bottled, unlike Champagne.
The method of production is extremely interesting. I am always fascinated by the solutions that people have found to achieve the objective. The process can require as much at 15 months. Whole or partially pressed Moscato grapes are placed in a fermentation chamber and chilled to 0 centigrade (32 F.). To remove the natural yeast bacteria the must is continuously controlled for fermentation. If a batch is fermenting the must is filtered and replaced in the cold vats. Once the must has completely broken down without fermenting, the must is placed in sealed container and allowed to come to 18 degrees C. to initiate fermentation.
Pressure is created by the Carbon Dioxide as a result of fermentation. Once the alcohol content arrives at 5 % the valves on the container are closed until the pressure arrives at 6-7 bars and the alcohol content arrives at 7%. The wine is then bottled immediately at 3 bars of pressure and cooled to 3-4 degrees centigrade.
The low alcohol content, 6-7%, and the sweet bubbly texture makes this a favorite even among those who do not drink wine. This wine requires no aging and should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. Over time the continuing fermentation will result in a loss of flavor.
When in Asti it is well worth your time to visit the Museum of Asti DOCG at the Castle of Christina d’Asti.
Color: Hay yellow with gold undertones.
Bouquet: delicate and balanced.
Flavor: Intense flavor, slightly sweet, due to the calcium deposits in the land.
Alcohol Content: 7-9.5%.
Serving Temperature: 6-8 degrees centigrade, should be maintained as cold as possible. After serving close the bottle with a pressure cap.
Aging: This wine should be consumed within the year of production.
Pouring: Avoid holding the bottle around the neck. Tilt both the bottle and the glass and allow the wine to gurgle down the inside of the glass. This will maintain the sparkling characteristics as long as possible.
Glass: Either use a Champagne cup or a tall, clear, narrow mouthed, stemmed glass. Pour small amounts at a time because the surface area of the glass will quickly bring the wine to room temperature.
This wine is perfect with desserts. Its sweetness and sparkling nature make this an excellent choice for celebration toasts where even those whom do not enjoy wine will appreciate this nectar.
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