Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Prunotto Moscato d’Asti DOCG (2010)

The birth of Prunotto (the winery behind this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti) occurred (in spirit at least) when a young Alfred Prunotto witnessed the signing of the documents that inaugurated the "Ai Vini delle Langhe" ("Of the wines of Langhe") wine producing co-operative in 1904, in the council chambers of the community of Serralunga. The first harvest of this young co-operative in 1905 was difficult and this was followed by a further two decades of disruption caused by economic hardship and World War I. This resulted in the dissolution of the co-operative in 1922 as most growers felt they could proceed better alone and without the co-operative’s assistance.

One such man was Alfred Prunotto. Having purchased the remnants of the co-operative and bestowed upon it his name “Prunotto”, Alfred then set about making his new Prunotto winery famous. A dedication to high quality saw the wines of Prunotto rapidly gain a good reputation and saw widespread exportation to both South America and North America before the 1950s. Retiring in 1956, Alfred Prunotto handed the reins of the Prunotto winery to his friend Beppe Colla, who later came to be assisted by his brother Tino Colla. The Colla brothers took Prunotto to new heights, with a particular emphasis on identifying the finest sites for traditional Piedmontese grape varieties. (The now famed Prunotto range of Barolo owes much to this focus.)

In 1989, the Marchesi Antinori family of Tuscany began its collaboration with Prunotto, culminating in the purchase of Prunotto by the Marchesi Antinori family in 1994, when the Colla brothers finally retired. This heralded a spurt of expansion and vineyard purchases, including a 5 hectare vineyard in Treiso planted to Moscato that provides the fruit for this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti.

A traditional Piedmontese wine, Moscato d’Asti (such as this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti) is made from the Moscato (Muscat) grape and is typically semi-sweet or sweet in flavour and is typically vinified in the “frizzante” (slightly sparkling) style. So this is the case for this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti. Whilst many of the Prunotto wines were affected by a change in production style following the Antinori takeover (most notably by a move to aging in small oak “barriques”, rather than larger and more traditional oak casks) this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti has been more or less consistent in its style since the purchase of the Treiso vineyard from which the Moscato grapes for this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti are sourced.

Marred by difficult weather throughout the 2010 growing season, production of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti was less than average in 2010, although grapes were reportedly harvested at agreeable quality levels in the second half of September. Snow delayed the start of the 2010 growing season for the Moscato vines that yield fruit for this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti, with ripening slow as a result of prolonged cool and wet weather through the summer.

It was something of a disappointment to obtain only the 2010 vintage of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti from our supplier, given both that the 2011 vintage of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti has already been released and that Moscato d’Asti can easily lose much of its spritz and flavoural expression if cellared for even a short period.

The bottle of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is elegant and simple. Low shouldered (and 750ml in capacity) the bottle of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti conforms to the norms of production for Moscato d’Asti. The cork of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is real, albeit of a reconstituted style of construction. It is uniquely stencilled for this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti: “Prunotto – Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G.”

In the glass this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is clear (i.e. non faulty) and displays a straw yellow/golden colour of moderate intensity. This colour is consistent across this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti in the glass and is moderately richer than some of the other Moscato d’Asti sampled by the Independent Wine Review recently. The “frizzante” style of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is immediately obvious, with fine bubbles rising from the base of the glass (although it should be noted that these bubbles are less in number than those exhibited by the 2011 examples of Moscato d’Asti sampled recently).

On the nose, this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is clean (i.e. non-faulty) and displays light aromas of honey, peaches and a touch of lychee. This is a beguiling bouquet that is notably muskier and slower moving than some Moscato d’Asti. The aromas of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti favour fruit over freshness.

Once in the mouth, this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is also similarly lush and luxuriant. Sweet and with a little more weight to the palate than some Moscato d’Asti, this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti displays smooth and creamy white fruit notes with a minimal frizzante influence. Whereas some Moscato a’Asti is almost light as a mousse on the tongue due to a persistent fizz, with this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti the spritz is less pronounced, something that makes this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti seem a little denser and less fresh. Acidity is low (in keeping with most Moscato d’Asti) although is enough to prevent the sweetness of this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti becoming cloying.

Overall, this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is an accomplished Moscato d’Asti, although one which in the judgement of this writer has been unfairly disadvantaged by a little bottle age. Moscato d’Asti should be consumed as young as possible and this 2010 Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is now a year after release. Not now a bad wine, this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti has just lost a little of the freshness and vivaciousness that defines Moscato d’Asti. If you wish to sample this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti in the near future – make sure it is the 2011 vintage that you obtain.

In terms of value, this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti is priced at broadly the going rate for top quality Moscato d’Asti. Cheaper examples of Moscato d’Asti d’Asti are available, however these tend to be more variable on a vintage by vintage basis and offer less nuance.

If this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti must be paired with food, fresh fruit or fresh fruit tarts make good accompaniments. Although this Prunotto Moscato d’Asti also makes for a fantastic aperitif or after dinner drink with no accompaniment.
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Prunotto Moscato d’Asti DOCG (2010)

Score: 83/100 – Lush and smooth. Has lost some of its sparkle.

Value for Money: 7/10 – This Prunotto Moscato d'Asti seems fairly priced at £12 per bottle, without offering outstanding value.
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