This region used to be part of the Venetian Empire. Trentino-Alto Adige is the most northern of the three regions and is bordered by the Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomites in the northern region of Alto Adige, so only about 15% of the land is cultivable. Trentino is 500 feet lower down in the valley and it's terrior is very similar to that of Alto Adige, just slightly less dominated by the mountains above. The Veneto today is one of the wealthiest, most developed and industrialized regions of Italy. It is bordered by the Dolomites and the Adriatic coast, allowing for two principal climactic zones: the alpine region with cool summers and cold winters, and the hill and plain areas where its climate is moderately continental. Friuli Venezia-Giulia is Italy's most North-Eastern region. It borders Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east, both heavily infulence the region's character and wines. To the south it is bordered by the Adriatic Sea. The northern half is very mountainous and gives way to flatter terrain and plains on the way to the sea (2). All three of these regions produce Moscato Giallo, and due to the different terriors they all yield different and unique wines.
Less often, you will hear it referred to as Moscato Sirio or Moscato di Siria...it was once thought to originate in the Near East. In reality, there is no proof that Moscato Giallo hails from Syria, and the fact that it has been proven to be either a grandchild or half-sibling to four other Moscatos (Moscat di Scanzo, Moscato Rosa, Moscato di Alessandria, and Moscato Violetto or Muscat Rouge de Madèire) and one Moscato-like variety (Aleatico), all of which originated in Italy, makes its oriental origin very unlikely. Furthermore, it is an offspring of Moscato Bianco, most likely also an Italian native. For all these reasons, while some experts still argue about the possible Greek origins of Moscato Bianco and Moscato di Alessandria, there are no such doubts about Moscato Giallo, which is considered a true Italian native (1).
Moscato Giallo is generally characterized by rather large and elongated, pyramidal, sparse bunches with one to two wings and round, thick-skinned, bright yellow berries. Appearance and viticultural behavior depend on the clone or biotype observed...there are seven officially certified clones (R I, VCR 5, VCR 102, ISV-V-5, ISV-V-13, VCR 100 and CRSA-Puglia-F-38 ). It is a vigorous variety, and is also a fairly early ripener with harvest ranging from August to mid-September. The variety is very susceptible to milerandage in rainy springs and to phomopsis, but has good disease resistance overall. It's grey rot resistance differentiates it considerably from Moscato Bianco. Moscato Giallo is very sensitive to iron-deficient soils and performs best on calcareous or volcanic slopes. It prefers generally cooler temperatures: therefore its presence in Italy is limited to northern regions such as Trentino and Alto Adige, with very small plantings in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Lombardy, and Emilia-Romagna. With it liking cooler envirnments, it is not surprising that it is also being grown, in limited numbers, in Switzerland (where it is called Muscat du Pays), Austria, Germany, and Hungary (1).
To make things really confusing, in Veneto there has always been a wine called Moscato Fior d'Arancio, made, confusingly, with Moscato Giallo, rather than the rare Moscato variety Moscato Fior d'Arancio, which is uncommon in Veneto. True Moscato Fior d'Arancio (the Orange Muscat of California) is instead sparsely cultivated in Trentino and is related to little known Moscato varieties Moscato Jesus and Moscato Bianco Grosso (1).
Moscato Giallo wines are very different from those made with the other white-berried Moscatos. In contrast to Moscato Bianco wines, those made with Moscato Giallo have aromas that are more reminiscent of yellow flowers and sweet spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. Orange blossom is also typical in Moscato Giallo, but overall the nose is more herbal and spicier and has neither the penetrating grapey quality of Moscato Bianco nor the figgy , date and saline quality of Moscato di Alessandria. The taste is less of fresh grapes than Moscato Bianco, and less raisiny than Moscato di Alessandria. Moscato Giallo is usually lower in acidity than the other two, and therefore always seems sweeter than Moscato Bianco. Moscato Giallo wines are rarely made into sparkling wines, but makes an amazing dry wine that exudes intense floral and spicy aromas and flavors of grapefruit, mango, lychee, orange blossom, broom, cinnamon, nutmet and white pepper. The best examples of which you will not easily forget. The very sweet late-harvest or air-dried style labeled passito has thick honeyed tropical fruit and sweet spice aromas and flavors.
Moscato Giallo is represented in two DOC's. Friuli Isonzo DOC, just south of Collio, bordering Slovenia produces a slew of varietal wines, indluding a Moscato Giallo. Trentino DOC represents the southern half of the Valdadige DOC and also represents a number of varietal wines including a Moscato Giallo. Both will be varietally labeled.
(1) D'Agata, Ian. "Wine Grapes of Italy"
(2) Meraviglia & Botturi, "An Overview of Italian Wine"
(3) Stevenson, Tom