HUB’S HINTS – “FAVS”
Often times following a delicious and satisfying dinner, my thoughts shift to a dessert style beverage to end the meal. Because I am Italian and enjoy food far too much for my own good, quite often I over indulge! Therefore, I look forward to something sweet to aid in my digestion and finish out the evening. There is a vast array of dessert style wines that I have consumed over the years. I admit that I have a number of favorites including: Port (Vintage, LBV and Tawny), Sauternes, Late Harvest Wines, Tokay, Muscat, Icewines from Canada and Australian “Stickies”, to name a few. These selections and others will most definitely be subjects of future posts. But at this time, I would like to share with all of you one of my favorite Italian dessert wines. Because of its delicate sweet nature, the forward fruit style and the refreshing effervescence, I very much enjoy (Anna loves this wine also) an occasional Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont.
Moscato d’Asti is produced exclusively in Piedmont, Italy (“Piemonte” in Italian). This is the second largest wine production area in the country. The name Piemonte comes from the Latin, Pedemontium or Pedemontis, meaning “foot of the mountains” and the region is surrounded on 3 sides by the Alps. Switzerland and France border Piedmont to the north and west. As you might expect, this is a very hilly and mountainous region. The lowlands are a fertile agricultural region and the main products are: fruit, cereal, maize and rice (more than 10% of the national rice production is grown in this area). Major commerce includes, Fiat, Ferroro chocolate, Biella silks and the area is known for cheeses – Grana Padano, Toma and Gorgonzola are some of the more, well-known types. Also, Piedmont is particularly famous for white truffles and porcini mushrooms. However and more than any thing else, this prestigious region of Italy is renowned for wine.
Piedmont is quite possibly best known in America for “Asti Spuamte” that is consumed in massive quantities in this country. But, Piedmont is one of the greatest table wine growing areas of Italy with more than half of the 170,000 acres of vineyards registered as “DOC” (an Italian designation providing authenticity of the production region and strict regulations regarding grape varieties, vineyard and production practices). The hills and mountains in Piedmont are locations for the most prestigious and high quality vineyards. Incredible Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbara are produced by infamous names like: Ceretto, Renato Ratti and Angelo Gaja. I reserve the opportunity in future posts to “sing the praises” of these incredible producers and their fantastic wines. But, in the course of this post, it gives me great pleasure to introduce everyone to:
MICHELE CHIARLO ~
Michele Chiarlo’s rigorous pursuit of quality (since the winery’s inception) has earned this producer a highly respected reputation in Piedmont. Founded in 1956, the winery is located in Calamandrana, Piedmont and remains to this day is family owned and operated. The winery is one of the most technically advance facilities in Italy and the family promotes innovative practices including; soft pressing, controlled temperature fermentation, rotating maceration sprayers, malolactic fermentation, temperature and humidity controlled cellars (I welcome questions about these principles and how ultimately the wines benefit from these practices). Michele Chiarlo produces only the finest quality wines from the region and their Moscato remains one of my favorite dessert selections. Actually and because of the delicate, effervescent nature this Moscato, the wine can be enjoyed as an aperitif or for your afternoon sipping pleasure.
I recommend with complete confidence the. . .
2010 “NIVOLE” MOSCATO D’ASTI, MICHELE CHIARLO
“Nivole” means clouds in a Piemontese dialect, which is appropriately named for the sublime, delicate nature and finesse of this especially gentile and enchanting wine. The grapes are grown in the hills of Canelli, which offers an ideal microclimate for Moscato. The must is slowly “cool” fermented using natural yeasts to preserve the fragrance and varietal character. A small amount of unfermented Moscato juice is added to fine tune the sweet fruit intensity and the wine is bottled immediately producing also a lightly sparkling nature. Nivole is also DOCG (Denominazione Di Origine Controllata E Garantita) which is an official registered designation regarding authenticity and quality.
DESCRIPTION: Light bodied, soft, delicate, fresh and crisp, luscious, refined sweetness, fragrant, lightly sparkling with vivid aromas and flavors.
TASTE: Myriad of flavors including: pineapple, peach, grapefruit, apricot, ripe melon, mango, tropical fruits and honeysuckle blossoms.
ACCOMPANIMENTS: Moscato is an excellent companion to light fresh pastries, fresh fruit – strawberries, apricots, pears and peaches.
The average retail price range is $15 to $18 per bottle, 375 ml size.
ALSO OF SPECIAL INTEREST ~
As if the picturesque Barbara vineyards in the hills of Asti needed any added beauty; Michelle Chiarlo has installed the first “art walk” on his property. Orme Su La Court or “Footsteps in a Court” is an art park which depicts the four elements of earth, air, fire, water that meander down the rows of vines. This is a special place where the fruit of nature commingle with the art to inspire the senses. Along the path are “Segnapalo” or “pole heads” which are mounted on poles at the end of the vines in a Piemontese tradition to ward off any negative influences on the vines. The property includes an area for meditation with a 360 degree view of the surrounding hills and vineyards. When visiting Chiarlo, one can stroll through the vineyards, enjoy the peace, serenity of the picturesque setting and admire the collection of art that has been assembled.
* In the text of this post, I had planned to include one other Italian delicacy. However and because of the length of this contribution, I will present BRACHETTO D’AQUIT in next weeks Hub’s Hints. I look forward to sharing this wine with everyone. Ciao!