Even before Montalcino became world famous for its Brunello, it was for centuries the home of Moscadello, the wine Francesco Redi recounted of in 1685: “Del leggiadretto/del sì divino/Moscadelletto/di Montalcino.” The verses from the doctor and poet from Arezzo literally stated the delicacy of this wine. The author composed the “Baccano in Toscana” in honor of the best wines of his land, but there’s indeed plenty of historical facts concerning other characters who loved Moscadello. First of all, great poet Ugo Foscolo: in his Florentine days (in 1812-1813), in the most difficult period of his life, between economic hardships and suspicions of anti-party activities, Foscolo regularly had Moscadello di Montalcino as his “comfort wine”.
The production of Moscadello has even more ancient origins: in 1540, in a letter sent from Venice to a friend, writer Pietro Aretino thanks him for the gift of a “caratello of precious, delicate Moscadello, round, light, with that light sparkling which seems to blab, bite and kick, words which seem to make the lips thirsty…” Other finds kept in the Vatican’s secret archive show that in 1591, tenant farmers produced Moscadello on the farms owned by the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, and Pope Urbano VIII, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, appreciated it “for its vigor and flavor” and “often only requested it for Himself and His Court.” In the travel books of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Moscadello di Montalcino was regularly cited as “among the rarest and most renowned wines of Tuscany.” The diseases (oidium, downy mildew, phylloxera) that arrived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were responsible for bringing the age-old cycle of the old Moscadellie to an end. At that point, the winemakers decided to make room for the rising star, Brunello, the fame of which had already exploded, and Moscadello ended up on the corner, but never truly disappeared. Its production, however, was gradually reduced until it became a niche, one which only a handful of companies thrive on, including Banfi, Capanna, Caprili, Col d’Orcia and Il Poggione, despite the Doc acknowledgement in 1984.
Features and combinations
As the Brunello Consortium’s website tells us, “the Moscadello di Montalcino has a pale yellow color in its Sparky type, which tends to become darker in the quiet type, and assumes the appearance of a soft golden yellow in the Late Harvest type. The smell is peculiar: it shows the aroma of balanced and fresh muscat, with floral nuances due to the particular withering. The palate is pleasantly satisfied by the sweet and aromatic harmony of the Non Sparky type, while the Sparky wine also offers the inviting panache of light perlage. The Late Harvest typology demonstrates the velvety and enveloping elegance of a sweet wine. The Moscadello di Montalcino Tranquillo and Frizzante (Non Sparky and Sparky) are to be consumed young, while the Vendemmia Tardiva type will express its best over time.” As for the pairings, since it is a sweet wine, it should be drunk at the end of the meal, not necessarily with a dessert. On the contrary, it is with cheeses that it gives its best, perhaps Pecorino di Val d’Orcia.
Production Regulations of Moscadello di Montalcino Doc
Production area: Historical boundary of the Municipality of Montalcino.
Variety: Moscato Bianco
Maximum grape yield: 100 quintals per hectare for the Tranquillo and Frizzante types, 50 quintals per hectare for the Vendemmia Tardiva type
Grape yield in wine: 65% for the Tranquillo and Frizzante types, 45% for the Vendemmia Tardiva type
Entry for consumption: January 1st of the second year following the harvest for the Vendemmia Tardiva type
Colour: Straw yellow for the Tranquillo type, with a fine and lively froth for the Frizzante type, from straw yellow to golden yellow for the Vendemmia Tardiva type
Smell: Delicate, fresh and persistent
Flavour: Aromatic, sweet and harmonious, distinctive of the Moscato grape
Minimum alcohol content: 10.5% Vol. For Tranquillo and Frizzante, 15% Vol., of which 11.5% Vol. developed and 3.5% Vol. in potential Alcohol, for the Late Harvest type
Minimum total acidity: 5 g/lt for the Tranquillo and Frizzante types, 4 per thousand for the Vendemmia Tardiva type
Minimum net dry extract: 17 g/lt for the Tranquillo and Frizzante types, 22 per thousand for the Vendemmia Tardiva type