The Tiny but Rubust D.O.C.G. of Moscato di Scanzo

etichetta 1962 SquareMany of us, are accustomed to thinking that, to enjoy a sweet wine quality, you have to search for the product of the Vineyards in the south of “the peninsula” where the sun is hot, and the grapes enhance its component sugars.
Not so!

Scanzorosciate, a small town in the Province of Bergamo, with just seven miles of extension, and about ten thousand inhabitants, holds the record of the smallest DOCG in Italy.

Uniquely Italian, the “Moscato Passito” from this area is produced from red grapes, grown on an area of thirty-one hectares. The wine produced from these grapes are harvested later than other grapes. After the grapes are carefully selected, they are set out to dry in special dry rooms for about 40 days.

This process results is a higher concentration of grape sugars and flavors. After delicate pressing, 5 days or more of maceration, racking and then fermentation, the final stage is aging which takes about 2 years from harvest.

The Consortium for the Protection of Muscat Scanzo, combines twenty producers. All proud to be an interpreter of a “delicious elixir.” The total production for an entire year is about 60,000 bottles of 500 cl.

On November 7, 2012 I was awarded the ultimate tasting experience from the producers of this region, as they came together for a tasting in Rome.

To welcome me at the entrance of the “Chapel of the Arch of Bergamaschi” is Francesca Pagnoncelli Folcieri, with his wine in the glass, and the joy of giving myself the sublime pleasure of a charming delicacy of taste. And down with the first wine as I approached the fifteen exhibitors. Yes, fifteen different products for tasting. all worthy of attention and praise.

Their stories convey their love for their product, entering into personal stories and the various stages of preparation of the “sweet wine”: the harvest – handmade in small containers; drying the grapes – in wooden trellises -, grinding, fermentation, the wine press, and finally, aging in stainless steel tanks for two more years.

This niche product has a pyramid of complex smells and taste. Intense ruby color, with tones tending to orange in older products. The strong component of  glycerine makes the wine soft and pleasantly warm. There are unmistakable scents of cherries, sage and rose hip.

In the mouth the wine accentuates the jammy notes of plum, berries and honey. Spices, tobacco, chocolate, occur with thin evidence, when the wine has been swallowed and dries in the mouth. Is strong and pleasant minerality and acidity present in the wine, which matches well with pastries and, in some cases, fresh cheeses, or not too mature.

A curiosity overcomes me and I ask them “how have these wines been aged in steel containers, yet they still have the tertiary aromas, typical of refinement in wood?”

Emanuele replied that, “indeed, the rock limestone-marl Hills Scanzesi, which they call “Sass de Luna”, affects the scent of the wine and the minerality and acidity of the product, but in his view, the component of woody stems during the fifty days of drying the grapes, and the next phase of stripping and grinding, creates the addition of the sweet and subtle, yet noticeable and unmistakable scent of wood”.

James speaks of his product. “It’s very proud to provide the ‘House of Windsor’.” There you have it! The “Royal Family of England”, has been aware of this little area in Italy, and drinking and enjoying Moscato di Scanzo since 1850!”

After drink the fourth sample, the atmosphere between the present people becomes more familiar and confidential. It’s the right wine to make you enjoy an encounter, an emotion, to share with friends moments of joy and conviviality.

Each of winery has an output between 700 and 3,000 bottles a year of this “precious nectar. It’s an rare and elegant choice, sought after and valuable, which guarantees the excellence and uniqueness of the product, in the panorama of Italian dessert wines.