Italian Indigenous Varieties: Moscatello Selvatico Bianco – Tuscany

Today’s Italian indigenous variety is Moscatello Selvatico Bianco. A member of the vast Muscat family. This particular Muscat is the one grown in Montalcino and used in Moscadello di Montalcino, the first wine produced in that area, starting in the 16th century. It can be produced in three different iterations, tranquillo or still, Frizzante or sparkling and as a Vendemmia tardiva or late harvest version. There are some 60 hectares in Montalcino where this grape is grown, compared with 2,100 for Brunello production. I was lucky enough to taste a Moscadello today at the Benvenuto Brunello tasting in New York. It was the only one there by a winery called Azienda Agricola Capanna. It is available for around $13. The estate is one of the older ones in Montalcino and was founded in 1957 by Guiseppe Cencioni.  They have 50 acres of vineyards, 7 acres of which are planted with Muscat,  in the Northern part of Montalcino with South-Eastern exposure for the vines.

They use a lot of techniques in the vineyards and are very attentive to the vegetative cycle of the plant and maintaining the health of the soils with grass and composting materials known in Italian as “sovescio.”  They are also very careful in their bud select, canopy management, green harvesting before veraison and do hand harvesting.

They leave the wine on the skins, macerating for two days and then ferment in stainless steel at low temperatures. The wine spends time in the bottle and then is released. The wine was golden yellow in color. It had all the moscato aromas and flavors that one would expect with nice floral and fruity apricot notes. It was sweet but the sweetness was balanced by good acidity. I have had Moscadello in the past. I don’t remember them being as elegant as the one I tried today.  This one was delicious and I imagine others will be too.  It was quite balanced and harmonious. I am going to seek them out more often.


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