We can already feel the controversy boiling.
With Italy having such a huge and diverse array of wine regions, singling any single one out as the “wine capital” of the country is sure to raise a few hackles.
But there’s no denying that there’s something a little special about the city of Asti.
We’re going to look at the reasons why so many people point this city as the wine capital of a country that’s renowned for its wine
But before we do, we just want to point out that Asti being such a great city does not mean that there aren’t many other wonderful wine regions in Italy. In fact, every wine-producing area of the country is special in its own way, not least because you’re guaranteed to find a wine that’s completely unique to the area.
With that being said…
What’s so special about Asti that we feel that it deserves some special attention?
The Location is a Good Start
When it comes to size, there are many cities that have the jump on Asti. In fact, the city only has about 75,000 people in it, which makes it seem tiny in comparison to juggernauts like Rome.
But it’s the location that makes Asti such a renowned wine city.
For you see, the city is smack bang in the middle of the Piedmont wine region. And those who know their Italian red wines know exactly what that means!
Yes, Asti is the city that’s perhaps most closely related to the king of wines – Barolo. And of course, that also means that it’s associated with another great Italian red in Barbaresco. There are very few cities in Italy that can claim to be home to even one of the country’s defining wines. But to be home to two of them is a very special thing indeed.
And that’s without even mentioning the Moscato d’Asti, which is one of the best sparkling Italian wines available.
In fact, we’d argue that this wine can give the more famous Prosecco a run for its money, even with its lower alcohol content and sweeter nature.
Simply being in the Piedmont region gives Asti a head-start on almost any other city when it comes to wine. In other words, it more than makes up for its lack of size by producing some of the best wines that you’ll ever experience.
The Cultural Influences Also Help
Like much of Italy, Asti has come under control of a variety of world powers during its history. And in Asti’s case, one of the longest periods of control came from those other great wine producers – the French!
Now, we’re going to put the friendly rivalry between Italy and France aside for a moment and just say this.
The period of French rule in Asti will have also introduced some French ideas for winemaking into the city. And of course, some of these ideas will have spread out into the surrounding regions.
What we’re saying is that you can make the argument that Asti is one of the few cities that can give you the best of both worlds when it comes to the French and Italian wine industries. We certain that being under the rule of two of the world’s wine powerhouses will have had a positive impact, at least.
…And by the way, Asti has also seen periods where it was under Spanish rule. Of course, Spain is another major wine producing country, which means even more outside influences may have crept into Asti-based wine production.
That simple spreading of ideas from so many different cultures has almost certainly had an impact on the city and its wine production.
The Climate is Almost Perfect Too
If you’ve been keeping up with the xtraWine blog, you’ll know that the effects of climate change have had a huge impact on the Italian wine industry in recent years.
But historically, Asti has always been known for having a climate that’s very conducive to growing amazing grapes. Somehow, it’s always seemed to stay in a range that makes life a little easier for producers, at least when it comes to extracting quality out of their grapes. And when you combine that with centuries of tending the land for wine production, you have a potent combination that gives the wines from this city a certain something that others just don’t possess.
Winters tend to be a little warmer, with summers being slightly cooler, than you’ll find in other areas of Italy. This means more consistency on the temperature, which translates to the grapes. The city also tends to get plenty of rain, which means the effects of drought are far less likely to affect it.
Of course, the ravages of climate change may cause all of those advantages to disappear in the coming years. But for now, Asti is still one of the most perfect cities for growing grapes in the world.
It Also Hosts the Festival of Festivals
A festival has to be pretty special to call itself the “Festival of Festivals”. But that’s exactly what this amazing event is.
Each year, winemakers, food producers, and hordes of regular people descend on the city to take part in the festivities. And if you’re lucky enough to take part yourself, you’ll soon see why Asti is the wine capital of Italy.
No matter where you turn, there’s food and wine on offer. It’s the perfect place for anybody who considers themselves a foodie or a wine lover. And each year, it just cements Asti’s reputation as the wine capital of Italy.
The Final Word
As wonderful as all of the great Italian cities are, there’s just something special about Asti in the context of Italian wine.
We can certainly make this guarantee…
If you ever get the chance to visit, it’s impossible not to find a wine that you’ll love. That alone makes Asti a very special city and it’s the reason why it holds such a special place in the hearts of many Italians.