Way up in the northwestern aspect of Italy lies the wine region of Asti. Known primarily for its reds—Dolcetto, Barbera, Grignolino—in recent years Asti has become increasingly known for its sweet bubbly Moscato. But as you may know, when it comes to wine I like to vere a little into the unknown and see what I can find. It's a search for the unexpected, a journey to the ends of the earth (at least in tasting terms) in the service of discovery. What am I going on about? Sometimes you want to get that classically structured Bordeaux and linger over a long meal. And sometimes you just want something that's going to blow the lid off a steamy afternoon. That's where these come in.
Cantine Elvio Tintero is the project of winemaker Marco Tintero, heir to a 110-year-old winery in the commune of Mango, "in the heart of Moscato country." Marco and his father Elvio make wines that fit that off-the-beaten-path sort of vibe, the sort of wines that are meant to be drunk fresh and without delay. It's the stuff of small town trattorias and al fresco dining, wines that can slice the heat right off your sweat-beaded skin.
We're tasting three summery wines from Asti this Saturday. A white and a rosato from the Tintero winery and (for good measure) a red from nearby called Il Goccetto.
Tintero Grangia - $12
A frizzante (lightly fizzy) blend of Favorita, Arneis, Moscato and Chardonnay, this dry and crisp light white wine refreshes the palate and quenches the gullet with ease. Perfect as an aperitif wine or as an accompaniment to fresh shellfish or summer salads.
Tintero Grangia Rosato - $12
The rosato is a nice rosy counterpart to the white. It's juicy, fresh like the white and full of tingly flavor. Most of the wine is from the Barbera grape, a red grape that is fermented immediately after harvest. Small amounts of unfermented Moscato and Favorita juice are added at the end to induce a secondary fermentation—that's the bubbly part. It's bottled unfiltered to maximize the character of the wine. But don't let it fool you, this is one of the most purely refreshing wines I've had this year.