‘Tis the season to celebrate and what better way to celebrate then with a bottle of Italian Sparkling Wine!
Mention sparkling wine and most people immediately think of New Year’s Eve celebrations and wedding toasts. But in Italy, where sparkling wine production is booming, savvy consumers enjoy their bubbles year-round and from aperitivo to dessert.
Most of Italy’s sparkling wines are produced in the cooler regions of northern Italy, particularly Piedmont, Veneto, and Lombardy.
HOW ARE THE BUBBLES MADE?
There are mainly two methods of making sparkling wines: Metodo Charmant and Metodo Classico.
Charmat method: (aka metodo martinotti, in Italian) the wine is mixed in pressurized stainless steel vats with sugar and yeast. the sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide.The yeast is filtered and removed, and the wine is bottled. these young wines that are crisp and fresh
Champagne method: (aka metodo classico in Italian) the wine is fermented in the barrel and then undergoes second fermentation in the bottle after the addition of yeast, and sugar. the wines rest on the lees and must later be removed. The bottles are turned each day (remuage) and the position changed until almost vertical. Once in the final position and the lees have deposited on the bottle neck, the necks are frozen and a small block of ice is formed. The lees cap (precipitate) is pushed out and the bottle, filled with a percentage of sugar dissolved in wine (dosage) to replace the missing volume and give a smoother taste.
ITALIAN SPARKLING WINES
Most wine drinkers assume “if it is Italian & bubbly, then it must be Prosecco”.
This vibrant and informal wine has taken the world by storm, spurring Italy’s sparkling revolution. Produced 100% from the native Glera grapes in the cool climate and sea-fossil soils of the Veneto area using the Charmat method.
The best expressions are from the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Veneto growing zone, where the wines are labeled as Prosecco Superiore and are part of Italy’s tightly regulated DOCG designation. Here, grapes are grown exclusively on hillside vineyards that give the wines more depth and flavor, and producers have long recognized the importance of specific vineyard sites. Drink Cartizze’ in its terroir of one small area, a wine that express richness and finesse of the Glera grape.
Great producers to try: Bisol, Carpene’ Malvolti and Villa Sandi
Franciacorta is Italy’s sparkling wine star and one of my favorites! The wine region lies on the shores of Lake Iseo in Lombardy. These sparkling wines are made predominantly with Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Nero grapes using the metodo classico technique with very fine and persistent perlage (smaller, more plentiful bubbles). DOCG regulations establish Franciacorta must be aged for at least 18 months and vintage Franciacorta for 30 months.
Great producers to look for include Ca’ Del Bosco, Barone Pizzini, Bersi Serlini, Fratelli Berlucchi and Bellavista
The province of Trentino in Italy’s far north is one of the historic areas for Italian sparkling wine starting in 1902, when Giulio Ferrari began realizing his dream of creating an Italian sparkling wine that would hold its own against Champagne. Today Trento DOC is made using the metodo classico from predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Here the high mountain vineyards create a unique climate of warm, sunny days and cool, breezy nights that generate a wide array of aromas and flavors as well as elegance and complexity. The lighter styles pair with rice and pasta dishes, fish, and deli meats. The more aged Trento DOC wines are more complex and go well with white and red meats.
The wines are usually yeastier and fuller tasting than Franciacorta’s, which makes it a better pairing with the heavier mountain region dishes. The minimum time for the 2nd fermentation is 15 months while Vintage 24 and Riserva 36 months.
Try those from Ferrari , Cembra and Rotari
LAMBRUSCO …YES LAMBRUSCO…TRUST ME!
Usually red, sparkling and dry. A very aromatic wine with strong hints of berries but it is not SWEET. Produced using the Charmat method, is a great aperitif wine, best paired with the fatty salumi and prosciutto of Emilia Romagna the region where it comes from – think Prosciutto di Parma or Culatello di Zibello.
Asti is a lovely town on the rolling hills of Monferrato in Piedmont where the stony, limestone soil is ideal producing a considerable number of excellent sparkling wines. Asti DOCG is a light, slightly off-dry, vaguely peachy wine, made from 100 percent Moscato Bianco grapes. It has a high acidity, which helps to balance its sweetness. Asti is a non-vintage wine and best consumed within one to three years of its bottling.
Drink it at the end of a meal, especially with pastries or creamy and fruity desserts
BRACHETTO D’ACQUI DOCG
Lesser known than the white wine sparklers of Piedmont is Brachetto D’Acqui, a ruby-red sparkling wine made from Brachetto grapes. This wine is festive and light, with subtle hints of strawberry and cherry. It is excellent when paired with fruit and cheese or a light dessert, like crème caramel. Surprisingly, it is also a good accompaniment to pizza or BBQ.
SANGUE DI GIUDA
Sangue di Giuda (Blood of Judas) is a semi-sparkling sweet red wine produced in a small area of the eastern part of Oltrepò Pavese in Lombardy. Its low-alcohol content and fruity character makes this wine a very pleasant and easy to drink. The Sangue di Giuda is produced with three indigenous grapes, grown on clay and limestone soils: Croatina, Barbera and Uva Rara. Pairs perfect with dark chocolate and Panettone.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT GLASS