Italian Indigenous Varieties: Moscato Rosa


This week’s indigenous variety is Moscato Rosa. Its name portends the aromas that one smells, heavily floral. It is an ancient grape thought to have arrived in Italy from Greece by way of Dalmatia and Istria. It can be found in the Sud-Tirol and in Piedmont in the provinces of  Alessandria. It’s grown in South America as well.

The wine made from this grape exudes both red fruits – strawberry and raspberry, and geranium and rose aromas and flavors with a hint of spice. It is usually made into a mono-varietal and into a sweet wine. The one in the picture is from Castel Sallegg. I tried it last year at Vinitaly.

According to the Castel Sallegg winery website,”The Princes of Campofranco, the ancestors of today’s owner Count Georg von Kuenburg, introduced this noble grape variety in 1892 when they moved from Sicily to Caldaro and Castel Sallegg, planted it in t he warmest earth around Lake Caldaro, where it thrived.” It is a made in very small quantities in their vineyard at230 meters above sea level. It is not made every year. When it is made, it’s usually just 1,000 bottles. The soils are gravel and reddish, ground Gardena sandstone. These warm soils and the mild climate around Lake Caldaro allow this grape to thrive.

The grapes are picked when they reach a sugar content of minimum 32° KMW (160 Oechsle). They then ferment in stainless steel,  spend 12 months in stainless steel tanks, followed by 12 months of bottle aging before release. They suggest that this can be in the cellar for 30 years. I would love to try one with that kind of age on it.

Another great Alto Adige producer, Elena Walch , also makes a Moscato Rosa. She suggests cellaring for 4-8 years. Franz Haas and Abbazia di Novacella with its Praepositus Moscato Rosa also make wonderful wines from this grape. They are beautiful very small production wines.

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