Decanter Sparkling Wine Exploration (Part 2) 🇮🇹Italy 

Hi

Well I hope you enjoyed my first installment from This Decanter Tasting.

Today it’s Italian Sparkling wines.

Sales of Italian sparkling wines… OK mainly Prosecco which is exploding (not literally) all over the world. With approx. 300m bottles sold in 2016 the forecast is more than 33% growth by 2020 to well over 400 Million bottles per year! Although Prosecco is the main driver behind this growth in Italian sparkling wines there are many fabulous sparkling wines from all over Italy to explore!

A lot of this volume is supermarket cheap plonk, pumped full of CO2 to make it super fast, however, some of the supermarkets are stocking higher quality DOC & DOCG wines & not just trying to be the cheapest fizz out there. So Prosecco is far from all the same. Its always worth using an independent wine merchant who will usually have some great prosecco.

So now on to Prosecco & Trento DOC

PROSECCO

Nino Franco Spumati

At Nino Franco they now have a state of the art winery which is located in the heart of Prosecco country “Valdobbiadene”. This winery dates back to 1919 with Antonio, Nino one of his sons grew and expanded the business but it is now Primo, Nino’s son, who went to the highly reputed Oenological school in Conegliano who has transformed the winery to what it is today. One major factor was to instantly reduce yields and introducing controlled fermentation which results in fresh, flowery & fruity prosecco. Primo’s whole philosophy is about constant improvement of the wines. Below are reviews of 3 of their 5 wines they had on tasting. I had to limit myself on time! (read PART 1 to explain why) Just before I go on Silvia Franco was a delight to chat too, not only knowledgeable but so passionate about their ethos and wines.

They also have an amazing villa where you can stay,  in one of only 6 rooms in Valdobbiadene http://www.villabarberina.it/en/history.html

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Nino Franco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG NV.

  • Res Sugar : 10g/l
  • Grape : 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 11%
  • Production Method : Charmat

Tasting notes: Firstly the colour – Straw colour but bright with it. This entry level (if they have such a thing) is an absolute delight, perfect for an aperitif as it exudes apples & fleshy white peaches. It has a lovely creamy finish too.

Nino Franco “Nodi” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG 2015

  • Res Sugar : 6g/l
  • Grape: 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 11.5%
  • Production Method : Charmat

Tasting notes: Straight away this is a very different prosecco with pears and gooseberry notes. Very fine bubbles and a burst of citrus on the end of the palate. This is a much more savoury wine. I would love this wine with some Calamari!

and finally …

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Nino Franco “Grave di Stecca” Brut 2012

  • Res Sugar : 7g/l
  • Grape: 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 12%
  • Production Method : Charmat

This wine is exclusively from an ancient vineyard, named “Grave di Stecca”, a clos on the slopes of Prealpi, and is absolutely stunning. This vineyard has a particular micro-climate with a different type of gravel soil creating a very different terroir.

Tasting Notes: My notes read WOW! then another WOW! But seriously its pale straw in colour, with tiny fine soft bubbles. It has a silkiness to it from the first taste, with caramel & brioche notes complementing the fruit . Although at only 7mg/l this wine feels dry it is so expressive and finally on the end of the palate the minerality from the gravel vineyard comes through. 1st class wine making!

Before I move on there were also some other stunning Prosecco makers there which I will be reviewing separately soon.



Trento DOC

01
Giulio Ferrari (image from Ferrari Website)


Brief History of the region below, taken from http://www.trentodoc.com/en/ worth checking out more on this sight for full insight into the region.

Wine has been made in Trentino for a long time with evidence dating back 3000 B.C.

In 1902, Giulio Ferrari who was an enologist at the San Michele all’Adige Agrarian Institute took a study trip to France. He realised there was a great similarity between the Champagne and Trentino regions. So when he arrived home set out to make Trentino sparkling wine. Now the origin of Trentodoc sparkling wine from the mountains.

In 1984 the Trento DOC Institute is founded on the request of the producers, then in 1993
The Trentino region receives D.O.C. certification (one of the first after Champagne). In 2016, 45 sparkling wine producers become members of the Istituto Trento Doc.

The Trento DOC area is quite large and the wines have very different characteristics. This is because the region spreads from the mild shores of lake Garda to the very cold dolomites, in fact up to 800m above sea level.

I am digressing for a paragraph here…. about the Dolomites! 15 years ago while staying on Lake Garda on my honeymoon I decided to take a trip &  went up to the top of the dolomites in August very hot…. in shorts!!!! BIG Mistake at over 10,000 feet there was 2 feet of snow and bits nearly fell off ! Phew…   (my wife stayed down on terra firma as she thought the look of the near vertical cable cars were daft)



The Metodo Classico sparkling wines are made from the Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier & also Pinot Blanc.

Hoping not to bore the hell out of the people that know all about how to make sparkling wine here is a brief piece on how they get the bubbles in! Still wine is obtained from the harvest of the four varieties, then its bottled, sugars and yeast are then added to allow fermentation. Then with in-bottle ageing and the action of the yeast then this leads to a second fermentation.  This is known as refermentation and is the process through which carbon dioxide is naturally developed, producing the classic perlage (bubbles!) that are visible in your glass. So this second fermentation occurs while the bottle matures in the wine cellar.

The maturation period of a Trentodoc are: (all are minimum)

  • 15 months for a Brut
  • 24 months for a Millesimato
  • 36 months for a Riserva.

The finest producers are extending the time on the lees way beyond the minimum for regulation to make stunning wines.

So onto the first Trento DOC producer.

Cavit Trento – ALTEMASI TRENTODOC

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Cavit (Italian acronym of Cantina Viticoltori del Trentino) is a cooperative group uniting 10 Cellars of Trentino with overall 4,500 associated grape growers.

Cavit’s history starts in 1950, when some vine-growers, aware of the uniqueness of their land and eager to valorise their products, entered into partnership, establishing a Consortium of associated grape growers, a first draft of Cavit. In 1957, the technical function was joined by the commercial function: the Consortium acquired a cellar for the increasing needs of its associates. In 1964, the premises of Ravina di Trento were built,  expanded in 1977 until the 80,000 m2 of today. Although Cavit are huge coop producers they produce some very good wine indeed.

Altemasi Trento DOC Millesimato 2012

  • Res Sugar : 6.5g/l
  • Grape: 100% Chardonnay
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Vineyard: 3 vineyards from 450-600m ALT
  • Months on Lees: 59 (minimum for Millesimato is 24 mths)

Tasting Notes: In the glass this wine has super fine perlage (bubbles). Its Darker yellow than I expected with some definite green tinges too. On the palate peaches and then citrus. Even with the peaches this wine feels and tastes dry. A perfect Aperitif!

Altemasi Riserva Graal Trento DOC 2009

  • Res Sugar : 5g/l
  • Grape: 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Nero
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Vineyard: 3 vineyards from there highest  500-600m ALT
  • Months on Lees: 86 (minimum for Millesimato is 36 mths)

Tasting Notes: This Riserva is a wholly different wine from the Millesimato. Much more yellow with golden rim. Again very fine bubbles but it seems lots more! Its more complex from the off, with green apples and citrus but with a beautiful toastyness that shines through. I would drink this to accompany almost any meal.  It truly is beautiful winemaking.

Altemasi Pas Dosé Trento DOC 2009

  • Res Sugar : 1.5g/l
  • Grape: 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Nero
  • Alcohol : 12.6%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Vineyard: 2 from 450-600m ALT
  • Months on Lees: 89

Tasting Notes: A bright straw yellow in the glass. This wine really shows how well they make wine as the sugar cannot be used to improve any faults as its pretty much zero dosage. Again this wine shows the peach and citrus but with a huge difference, its mineral quality and feels savory in the mouth. I’m a huge fan of zero dosage and I loved this Pas Dosé. All I needed was some seafood antipasti and would have stayed on the stand all day!

Altemasi Rosé Trento DOC NV

  • Res Sugar : 8.5g/l
  • Grape: 35% Chardonnay, 65% Pinot Nero
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Vineyard: 2 Vineyards from 450-600m ALT
  • Months on Lees: 59 

Tasting Notes: For me this is a great aperitif. People always seem to love being handed a glass of pink fizz on arrival at parties and events. This wine is coppery pink in colour with fine bubbles in vigorous stream. Red berries with a touch of cherries giving this wine a rich bright flavour.

Just a quick note, Thanks again to Andrea Nicolini (Cavit Export Director EMEA & Asia) for his expertise on the TRENTO DOC region and knowledge about these wonderful wines too.

FERRARI –  (AND NO!! NOT THE CAR MAKER)

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Notes from Ferrari Website http://www.ferraritrento.it

With its mountain viticulture, Trentino is an area that is extraordinarily suited to the production of sparkling wines of great elegance and complexity: the alternation of warm days and cool nights gives added quality to the grapes, giving them a rainbow of different flavours and fragrances. It is thanks to the intuition of Giulio Ferrari that this area represents today the largest vineyard zone planted with Chardonnay in Italy. The soul of Ferrari’s wines stems from the generosity of nature and the tenacity of man; it originates from grapes hand-picked in the Lunelli family’s vineyards and from the labours of the 500 families of vine growers in Trentino who supply their grapes.

We do more than guaranteeing that all Ferrari vineyards have an organic certification: we put the natural fertility of the soil at the centre of our work by reintroducing ancient agronomic practices, such as the use of green manure. The broad notion of environmental protection advocated by Ferrari Winery has granted the company the prestigious “Biodiversity Friend” certificate, issued by the Worldwide Biodiversity Association.


Unfortunately as previously discussed time was not on my side for this tasting so I had already picked out 2 wines to try.

 

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FERRARI Perlé Trento 2010

  • Res Sugar : 5.9g/l
  • Grape: 100% Chardonnay
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Months on Lees: 60

Tasting Notes: Perlé is straw yellow in the glass. On the palate this wine is elegant, tiny bubbles explode apples, peaches then toasty almonds. Has a beautiful long finish and is a joy to drink. Would accompany most foods easily because of the rich structure.


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FERRARI Giulio Riserva del Fondatore 2005 (from Magnum)

  • Res Sugar : 4.2g/l
  • Grape: 100% Chardonnay
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Months on Lees: 120
  • First Production 1972 (great year I was born 72′!) Only made in the finest years

Tasting Notes: In the glass Giulio is bright yellow turning deeper golden on the edge, the perlage (bubbles!) are vigorous and super fine. On the nose you can smell the richness from the aged Chardonnay with citrus, honey notes. This wine has been on the lees for 10 years and has developed beautifully. On the palate its lusciously rich and velvet silky smooth. Its complex, creamy, slightly nutty, also has a spicey touch and you can taste the minerals of the mountain terroir.

Giulio really is the King/Queen of Italian sparkling winemaking.

Web links to check out:

Nina Franco – http://www.ninofranco.it/en/

Cavit – http://www.cavit.it/en/wine/riserva-graal-trentodoc-en/

Trento DOC – http://www.trentodoc.com/en/

Ferrari – http://www.ferraritrento.it/the-house/?lang=en

Decanter – http://www.decanter.com/

 

 

 

 

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