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From the family’s 50 hectares in Castiglione Tinella, it was Luigi Saracco who first made wine in the mid-20th century; it was bulk Moscato that went into vermouth. Under his son, Giovanni, the family focused on selling grapes to local producers of Asti Spumante. But when third-generation Paolo joined in 1988, fresh from enology school, he quickly set about making Moscato under the Saracco label.
While buoyed by family tradition, Paolo Saracco was committed to modernization as he aimed to optimize the effusively fruity and aromatic character of the Moscato Bianco Canelli grapes. He was intent on taking full advantage of the Asti terroir—marl and sand where the variety has been growing since ancient times—and then doing everything possible to preserve the grapes’ fresh fruit character.
He also was committed to promoting Moscato d’Asti beyond Italy. Paolo Saracco began exporting in his very first vintage (1990), and was the first to ship Moscato d’Asti as DOCG wine to the U.S. in the 90s, effectively launching the esteemed category here.
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Dedication to innovation—and freshness—can also be seen with Saracco’s introduction of Stelvin screw-caps in 2014. But no doubt the most important advances that Paolo Saracco brought to Moscato d’Asti center on production.
The Saracco vineyards are hand-harvested by the same team of 30 people each year to ensure consistent quality and selection. Then, after gentle pressing, the must is kept in super-chilled (38°F) stainless steel tanks so that only 12 to 15 percent of a vintage is fermented at a time—about seven or eight times per harvest. Saracco puts the bottling date on every bottle, which is unique in the region.
Such precise handling—from harvest through fermentation to bottling—is critical to Moscato d’Asti, arguably the most transparent of all wines. The sensory qualities of the grapes are meant to carry through to the wine, so its production is purposely fruit-centric; no secondary fermentation on the lees, no blending, and no barrels enter into the picture. Moscato d’Asti’s incomplete fermentation, keeping alcohol under six percent and leaving both residual sugar and gentle effervescence in the wine, make an acid backbone all-important. Paolo Saracco believes this structure comes best from a combination of Asti’s microclimate, mineral-rich subsoils, elevation and exposure.
With 2020 marking the 31st harvest for the Paolo Saracco, no other Moscato producer can match Saracco’s track record. The brand, imported by WinesU, can proudly point to 15 straight years of 90+ scores from top critics.
Unlike the majority of Piemontese producers, who primarily focus on red wines, Paolo Saracco is a Moscato specialist, which is why his wine has remained remarkably consistent for two decades. With each fresh vintage trickling out of Italy starting mid-October (well before Beaujolais Nouveau), it has now become customary for Saracco Moscato d’Asti to arrive in a gift box.
Saracco Moscato d’Asti DOCG (DoP)
A benchmark of quality for the region, this wine exhibits classic straw-yellow color and fine perlage, with intense aromas of orange blossom, peach and thyme leading into a palate that is balanced by pleasant acidity—still intensely fruity but not overly sweet. It pairs perfectly with fruit-based desserts, but can also be a surprising foil for strong cheeses such as gorgonzola and spicy dishes.