Sunday, 18 March 2012

Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti DOCG (2011)

Vietti’s “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is certainly not the most talked about wine in Vietti’s famed range of Piedmontese wines. This though, is nothing unusual. For the vast majority of Italian wine lovers, Piedmont is all about Barolo (and sometimes Barbaresco too). The other wines of estates based in Piedmont (such as the excellent Barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis and of course this “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti  also crafted by Vietti) are almost completely ignored in the rush to appreciate what are arguably Italy’s finest wines.

In this respect, part of the problem for Vietti and this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is that Luca Currado (and his father Alfredo before him) is so good at crafting the Vietti range of Barolo, that rarely do their other wines get any attention or interest outside of Italy. Releasing a range of five separate Vietti Barolo annually, the 135,000 bottles produced of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti are almost forgotten by both the UK importers of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti (who would much rather that you purchased the Vietti Barolo – there is more money for them in that) and UK retailers (who also find the Vietti range of Barolo a more attractive sales proposition).

This however is wrong, for this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is a fantastic wine.
Produced from the Moscato grape (or Muscat as it is often labelled outside of Italy), the fruit for this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti comes from selected vineyards in Castiglione Tinella (Piedmont), in North West Italy. Here the Vietti family (and the Currados who married into the family) have been growing grapes for almost two hundred years and have been releasing wines made from these grapes for almost the last hundred under the Vietti name. Here grapes are farmed organically by the Vietti family, who prune the vines vigorously to limit yields and to produce the best quality and most intensely flavoured grapes as a result.

After hand harvesting, the Moscato grapes destined for this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti were gently crushed before fermentation was allowed to occur in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Once this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti had reached 5.5% in alcohol, the fermentation of this wine was stopped (by cooling the wine dramatically). This preserved the sweetness in this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti – had fermentation been allowed to continue naturally, this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti would have been dry in style (rather than sweet). A secondary fermentation was then kicked off once this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti had been bottled, in order to add a “frizzante” style fizz to this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti.

Just released at the time of tasting, now represents the perfect time to drink this 2011 Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti as Moscato typically degrades and becomes less flavoursome with even a limited period of bottle age.

The bottle of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is the most impressive of those Moscato d’Asti tasted by the Independent Wine Review this year. Low shouldered in the traditional style for Moscato d’Asti, the bottle of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is heavy with a thick lip to the neck of the bottle. The label of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is bright but elegant, with an image of intertwined corn and flowers prominent. This image is the product of a series of collaborations between Vietti and local artists within Piedmont. The foil is thick and metallic and covers the real (but reconstituted) cork that seals this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti.

In the glass, this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is clear (i.e. non faulty) and is a pale gold colour. The colour of sunshine reflecting off ripening straw, this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti also displays a clear “frizzante” spritz with fine bubbles rising persistently from the base of the glass. With “just” 5.5% in alcohol, the legs of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti dissipate quickly when the wine is swirled.
On the nose, this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is a wonderfully luscious amalgamation of peaches, white flower and orange blossom. Clean (i.e. non faulty), the aromas of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti are light, but also sweet and fragrant. A touch of ginger adds a further sense of the exotic to this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti. This Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti offers a bouquet which is more complex, but just as beguiling as other Moscato d’Asti.

Once in the mouth, this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti continues this lush and exciting experience. Sweet in nature but light bodied, the persistent “frizzante” fizz of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti imbues this wine with a really vivacious personality as it dances around your mouth. With a sweet mid-palate of peach, lychee and a touch of nectarine kept smooth by a persistent acidity (which is perhaps a little greater than most Moscato d’Asti) orange, sherbet and apricot burst around your taste buds like sherbet-filled “flying saucers”. Only moderately long (Moscato d’Asti will never be as long in the mouth as some wine due to the techniques used in vinification) this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is nonetheless a seriously impressive Moscato.

Universally loved by every taster that the Independent Wine Review has shared this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti with, this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti is very much shaped by a couple of particularly individual  winemaking choices by winemaker Luca Currado during vinification. By allowing a slightly higher alcohol content than much Moscato d’Asti to develop in this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti  (5.5% abv is around 0.5% higher than average), Luca has limited the sweetness of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti (although it remains sweet). Also, this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti contains a marginally higher of acidity than much Moscato d’Asti and a moderately more pronounced spritz. It is these factors that make this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti so enjoyable to drink and make this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti such an accomplished wine.

Not the least expensive Moscato d’Asti on the market (some are available at half this price), the price of this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti seems justified given its quality. At £13 per bottle this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti also remains much more accessible than many sparkling wines.

Perfect for drinking as an aperitif with no food to accompany it, this Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti can also be drunk after a meal - either with fresh fruit, or without. Fresh strawberries would make a particularly good accompaniment.
Vietti “Cascinetta” Moscato d’Asti DOCG (2011)

Score: 87/100 – A very good example of a loveable style of wine

Value for Money: 8/10 – In this instance, the £13 per bottle price of this Vietti "Cascinetta" Moscato d'Asti is in-line with its quality