Friday, September 4, 2020

VIVA Sustainability at the Forefront with Michele Chiarlo

Sustainability in the wine industry is a major focus for many wineries and is continually growing its presence throughout wineries around the world.  When Katarina of Grapevine Adventures broached the topic for this month’s Italian Food, Wine and Travel theme it was the perfect time to dig in and understand what sustainability really is and what it means to individual wineries in Italy.   

This week I attended a virtual tasting hosted by IEEM and the Consorzio per la Tutela dell’Asti DOCG led by Jeff Porter.  Being a lover of wines with a touch of sweetness as well as dessert wines this was right up my alley. 

The Wine Region ~ Moscato d’Asti 

To take a step back before we dig into sustainability at the winery, Michele Chiarlo, that I’m featuring today let’s highlight the Moscato d’Asti wine region of Piedmont in northwestern Italy.  This area was delimited at the end of the 19th century.  It's surrounded by the Tanaro and Bormida Rivers and at the North lies the town of Asti.   Moscato d’Asti was established as a DOCG in 1994 containing 51 villages mostly within the Asti province.  

The Grape ~ Moscato Bianco 

If you’re not familiar with the Moscato Bianco grape it’s a highly aromatic grape with floral and fruity notes.  Moscato d’Asti is a slightly sparkling wine with a mild effervescence requiring a low alcohol level of 4.5-6% at about 2.5 bars of pressure.  In comparison, Asti Spumante requires a higher alcohol at about 6-8% with a  minimum 3.5 bars of pressure. 

The Moscato Bianco grape is an important varietal to the region of Piedmont.  It’s the most widely planted white grape in Piedmont.  Jeff brought up at that tasting that there was a statute back in 1511 that required all wineries to dedicate at least 1/5 of all their vineyards to be planted with Moscato Bianco.  Refusing to do so resulted in fines, demonstrating the importance of this grape in the culture of the region.   

Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti Nivole
Copyright of Michele Chiarlo
The Winery ~ Michele Chiarlo 

Originally established in 1956, Michele Chiarlo has been producing Moscato d’Asti for over 40 years.  Their vineyards lie at a variety of altitudes.  The soil is rich in white sand along with sedimentary marine origin.  The climate mostly consists of warm days followed by cool nights.   

Michele Chiarlo Winery Piedmont
Copyright of Michele Chiarlo

As Alberto Chiarlo quotes on their site “sustainability is tenderness”.  Michele Chiarlo winery is part of the VIVA sustainability project and as of 2016 all their grand crus are VIVA certified.  The VIVA project was piloted in 2011 and Michele Chiarlo was one of the first members.  Its mission is focused on preservation through the entire production chain protecting both the landscape where the vines grow and the heritage of the wine regions.  They look to lessen the environmental impact from beginning to end including lowering carbon footprint and CO2 emissions at wineries, managing waste pollution and water consumption along with soil management to name a few.

Michele Chiarlo practices sustainability through a number of ways mentioned on their site:  

  • Utilizing organic fertilizers  
  • Reducing soil erosion  
  • Eliminating weeding  
  • Enhancing flora and micro-organisms within the soil  
  • Protecting against insects using pheromone dispensers
  • Replacing wood packaging with recyclable cardboard  
  • Reconstructing their fa├žade of the winery with a green cover for cleaner air   

The Wine 

I sampled the 2019 Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti DOCG.  Nivole is grown in Canelli, one of the major subzones for Moscato d'Asti.  A florally fragrance with aromas of peach and apricot.  I tasted a couple different Moscato d’Asti for this virtual tasting and the Nivole was more rich and creamy with notes of orange and stone fruits.  A beautiful finesse with soft bubbles.  At half bottle size (375ml) this wine retails about $11-12.  For me it’s the perfect way to end a meal.  ABV 4.9%  Drink these wines fresh and enjoy!

2019 Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d'Asti

There is so much to learn about sustainability and it's affect on climate change and our group of wine writers have much more to share.  If you catch us in time we will be chatting live about sustainability and climate change this Saturday on Twitter at #ItalianFWT @ 11amEST. 

*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are all my own. 


  1. Don't think I've ever met a moscato d'asti I didn't like. Have not heard of a VIVA certified one however. Great to know and learn about!

  2. This Chiarlo wine is sooo good! During research for this month I read there are folks trying to real in all the different sustainability certifications and programs to have them under one umbrella. That seems a difficult undertaking. Viva is yet another new one for me.

  3. The Michele Chiarlo moscato is a really lovely version and I often buy several of their other wines -- so good to know more about their sustainability practices!

  4. “Sustainability is tenderness” - love this quote. Also appreciate the info on the Moscato Bianco grape and the VIVA project. Thanks!