This area produces Italy's most famous sparkling wine, originally named Asti Spumante, however, on receiving its higher classification of DOCG in 1994, it was simply renamed Asti. The wine producing area expands over much of Asti and some parts of the provinces of Cuneo and Alessandria.
Asti has made a name for itself as an easy drinking, sweet sparkling wine at an affordable price. The sweetness levels are a result of the naturally high sugar levels found in the Moscato grape. Most of the wine is made in large stainless steel tanks produced in a modified version of the Charmat method, whereby the must is filtered and then stored in the tanks at near freezing temperatures to prevent fermentation from commencing. At a later time the must is then inoculated with yeast to allow fermentation to begin. To avoid any loss of carbon dioxide during this time, the process takes place in large sealed tanks. Once the alcohol and residual sugar levels have reached those required, the wine is chilled very quickly to stop the fermentation. The wine is then filtered, bottled and corked. Although this method is the preferred choice of many producers, some Asti's are made using the Metodo Classico.
Generally, these 'spumante' wines have potential alcohol that is much lower than most wines, typically at 9% abv. Like its fellow Asti DOCG (and part of the same appellation), Moscato d'Asti DOCG must be made from 100% Moscato Bianco grapes. The main differences between these two wines are the sweetness, pressure and alcohol levels, MOscato d'Asti being the sweeter of the two and Asti having the higher level of alcohol. This is because the fermentation of Moscato d'Asti is stopped earlier. The other difference is that MOscato d'Asti is made in a frizzante style as opposed to a spumante. Asti is also packaged like Champagne with a wired down cork, unlike Moscato d'Asti which only requires a standard cork due to the lower levels of carbon dioxide. Its character is generally fresh and crips with fresh grapey flavors and should be consumed young and fresh.