Now, I want to present another sparkling wine which deserves far greater attention in the U.S., Trentodoc Sparkling Wine from Italy, and more specifically, the Trentodoc wines of Ferrari Trento. With a fascinating history, this family winery is producing sparkling wines which will impress any wine lover. The Ferrari sparkling wines are high quality, presenting a clean, complex and delicious profile. With the holidays coming, you should seek out Ferrari sparkling wines at your local wine shop
Sorellina and met Marcello Lunelli, the Vice President and wine maker at Ferrari Trento. It was his first trip to Boston and with our dinner, he presented five Ferrari sparkling wines, from a Rosé to Vintage bubbly. Marcello was a charming dining companion and I learned much about the Ferrari wines, being impressed with the taste and quality of the five wines I experienced. My feelings were mirrored by the others at the tasting, who all seemed similarly impressed.
To better understand the sparkling wines of the Trentodoc, we need to journey back to the end of the 19th century. At this time, the Trentino region was still a part of Austria-Hungary and wouldn't become part of Italy until after World War I. Giulio Ferrari, a graduate of Imperial Royal College of Agriculture ar Saan Michelle all'Adige and the School of Viticulture in Montpelier, spent a year learning about Champagne in Eparnay. He believed that Trentino had similarities to the Champagne region and decided to try producing sparkling wine in Trentino using the methods of Champagne.
Around 1900, he began planting Chardonnay in Italy, which may have been the first time it was ever planted in Italy. He founded the Ferrari winery in 1902, producing small amounts of sparkling wine, using the metodo classico, from his Chardonnay. This was certainly a risky endeavor but he made it succeed. Even though Giulio charged a high price for his wines, it didn't take long for his sparkling wines to win international awards and recognition, though he exported little of his product. Success through the labors and passion of one man who loved sparkling wine.
In time, more people followed Giulio's example and began producing sparkling wine in Trentino too. Eventually, in 1993, the Trento DOC was established, for white and rosé sparkling wines made in the metodo classico, primarily using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier are permissible grapes but are used far less commonly. There are currently about 44 producers in Trentino, producing a total of about 8.5 million bottles annually. It is still a relatively small region but it has made a strong mark in the wine world.
Around 2000, the third generation of the Lunelli family took over the operation of the winery and Marcello, pictured above, is the Vice President and a wine maker. Only blood relations of the Lunelli family may work in the company, to help ensure the company remains intact. The winery owns over 300 acres in Trentino, growing 20% of the grapes they need. They purchase the rest from about 500 small farmers in the region. They have 11 different labels, each from specific vineyards, and produce about 4.5 million bottles annually. About 20% of that production, about 900,000 bottles, is exported, primarily to Japan, the U.S.and Germany.
In Trentino, the current harvest is largely completed and they believe it will be an excellent vintage, one of the best since 2010. The last two vintages, 2013 and 2014, weren't too good and they did not produce any of their vintage Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore. Marcello noted that climate change has affected their region, the average temperature having risen one degree in the last thirty years, a greater change than had occurred in the 2000 previous years. To combat climate change, they have been moving their vineyards 100 meters higher and plan to eventually move all of their Chardonnay. As it is a mountainous region, they have the ability to make such a change.
This is a very food friendly wine and Marcello noted that his favorite pairing with this Rosé is pizza, which I would agree would be a good and fun pairing. We enjoyed this wine with some raw oysters accompanied by a lemon granita, kind of an oyster slushy. The briny oysters and lemon acidity of the granita went well with the clean and bright flavors of the Rosé.
Our second wine was the 2006 Ferrari Riserva Lunelli ($56), a Blanc de Blancs of 100% Chardonnay from vineyards at Villa Margon. The wine was matured in large format, neutral American oak, spending at least seven years on the lees. It also has an alcohol content of 12.5% and a dosage of 2.5 g/L. The aroma was intriguing, with some brioche and nutty notes and hints of smokiness. On the palate, it was fresh, crisp and clean with green apple and pear flavors, mild spice elements and a touch of toastiness. It also possessed a mild creaminess, a lengthy finish, and plenty of intriguing complexity. An excellent sparkling wine.
With this wine, we had a few different appetizers, including a superb tuna tartare, a beet salad and octopus. Once again, this was a food friendly sparkling wine and went well with all of the various dishes. Based on the tuna tartare, this would also be a great choice for sushi.
At one point during the dinner, Marcello said, "You don't need to be a sommelier as sparkling wine pairs with everything." This means that you don't need to worry about deciding on what wine to pair with what food. If you choose sparkling wine, you won't go wrong no matter what food you choose. When I visited Champagne, I had it paired with nearly all of my food courses for lunch and dinner, and I found that sparkling wine is extremely food friendly and you really can't go wrong selecting it for your meal.
We began with the oldest of the three vintages, the 1993 Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore ($400) which has an alcohol content of 12.5% and a dosage of 2 g/L. This impressive sparkling wine nearly left me speechless and I have to say that it was one of the best sparkling wines I've ever had. Marcello said this vintage was one of the best in the last twenty years. Initially, this wine will strike you as fresh and young and you won't believe it's 22 years old. You'll soon realize though the deeper complexity of this wine, something acquired primarily from aging. It is the epitome of elegance, with bright acidity, and an intriguing melange of flavors, including green apple, citrus, salty notes, a mild mushroom element and some herbal touches. Each taste seems to bring new flavors to your palate. This wine will age well for many years to come, only gaining in depth and complexity. It receives my highest recommendation.
Yes,most of us can't afford to purchase this wine but the newer vintages are much more affordable as a splurge. And if you can lay down a current vintage for a number of years, you'll be well rewarded when you finally open the bottle.
Have you ever enjoyed a Trentodoc sparkling wine?