This month, Sue and I are hosting the Italian Food Wine and Travel group’s exploration into Sparkling Wine of Italy. We chose this theme because
- we love any excuse to pop open a bottle of sparkling wine
- many people don’t know about sparkling wine from Italy other than Prosecco
- we had a sample on hand of a 2006 Ferrari that we wanted to pop open
- we love sparkling wine with food and think more people should too
- we wanted to learn more about the Trento region of Italy
- we thought it would be a fun to learn about sparkling wine of Italy
- it’s just in time for Mother’s Day, graduations, and weddings
Because over 150 million bottles of Prosecco are produced each year, it’s no wonder that this popular sparkling wine is the one from Italy that most people are familiar with these days.
But the mountainous Trentino region in northernmost Italy has produced metodo classico sparkling wine for over one hundred years, and Trento is the region Sue and I decided to focus on with two $15 wines non-vintage wines from Rotari and a $56 2006 reserve from Ferrari.
In fact it was Giulio Ferrari brought Chardonnay grapes to the region from France around 1900 when Trento was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after Ferrari studied winemaking in France. Scroll down or read more about Ferrari here.
The sparkling white Dolomite Mountains, with peaks as high as nearly 11,000′ dominate the ridgeline while the vineyards of the Trentino region mark the hillsides: 2% of Italy’s vineyards with 8% of the sparkling wine base grapes are produced here with a total annual production of around 7-8 million bottles (Wikipedia). Along with the limestone soils, the alpine air cools the temperatures and the grapes, providing the wide fluctuations that allow wine grapes to flourish: hot during the day, cool at night.
In addition to winery visit, the area is full of active recreation opportunities including skiing, rock climbing, hiking, and cycling. Attractions include
- Mount Pasubio and Strada delle 52 Gallerie (a military mule road built during World War I with 52 tunnels)
- Altopiano di Asiago and Calà del Sasso, with 4444 steps, the world’s longest staircase open to the public.
We had many grand menu ideas but the truth was that May 6 snuck up on us. We are both teachers with families and a lot of activities going on so we decided to keep it simple with a classic menu of oysters, caesar salad, pesto bread, and clams and linguine. Unfortunately the Jolly Oyster was out of oysters and clams so we pinch-hit with seafood risotto which my husband prepared and cooked in the instant pot which saves on all of that time stirring! This was our first time cooking risotto this way and it’s a winner: the risotto was perfectly creamy and the seafood was perfectly cooked. And while it cooked, instead of stirring, we could fix the rest of the meal and taste the wines and take notes!
- Cheese plate and rosemary sourdough bread
camembert, garlic herb chevre, humbolt grove herbs de provence goat cheese, smoked cheddar
- Pesto and sundried tomato pasta salad
- Steamed broccoli, and artichoke
- Ceasar Salad
- Shrimp and Seafood Risotto
Rotari NV Rose
Rotari NV Brut
Ferrari 2006 Riserva Lunelli
The Ferrari is a special occasion wine that pairs beautifully with food. Both of the Rotari bottles are pretty and festive, they catch your eye. Gold lies at the top and bottom of the label give them an elegance. Both of these wines are very fun and quite traditional in the sense, even though coming from Italy. We found that for $16 these wines were very enjoyable – we would definitely buy these wines again.
Rotari – Rose – Trento DOC – 12.5% alcohol – $15.99 at BevMo
We wanted to explore the wines of Trento so Sue bought these two Rotari wines at BevMo. I’d tasted the rose before in 2015 and was really surprised at how good it was for the price.
A blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, it’s a very enjoyable accessible wine appealing to a wide audience.
At this price, it’s perfect for a picnic wine for Mother’s day or brunch: Trader Joe’s has a chicken salad with cranberries and pecans that would be lovely with this wine, and that may just be on our menu next Sunday for our annual jaunt to Santa Barbara’s rose and botanic gardens!
The easy to drink, super enjoyable sparkler is a light orangey coral in color with delicate bubbles floating to the top.
On the nose, it’s not shy: it offers plentiful floral and fruit with strawberries and watermelon, pretty nose, very different from the almond brioche in the other two wines. Very complex perfume.
On the palate, this is a subtle wine, fruit and floral, If starting out in a multi course meal this wine should be first to showcase these flavors so that they are not overwhelmed but can be appreciated. Strawberry fruit in the mouth. The finish has strawberry and clean lemon.
Often times as a wine warms there is an off taste and you just want to dump it out, and not drink it anymore. This wine continues to be enjoyable even as it warms a bit, which is a quality of a good wine and really important for a picnic wine! It does not to be completely chilled to enjoy.
This wine also was beautiful with the shrimp risotto: Pink wine, pink food! We found the Rose to be a more flexible wine than the others: it handle the creamy flavors of the risotto. Sue love, love, loved this wine with the shrimp, making us think that this wine would be brilliant with sushi, possibly a California roll base roll.
We found this wine to be the most versatile wine of the evening. It can handle sweet and savory foods. It went brilliantly with most of the foods that we paired it with.
Rotari – Brut – Trento DOC – 12.5% alcohol – $15.99 at BevMo
Trento is at the base of the dolomites and the mineralality is evident in the wine which is great at this price point. It was aged on the lees which is evident in the quality of this 100% Chardonnay wine.
Pretty bubbles of pale golden, and with a bit of pale green in color entice. Yeasty nose jumps out of the bottle when first opened, followed by almond croissant and cinnamon French toast. This wine is not overly dry but definitely not sweet.
On the palate, it continues to have a nutty profile, with toasted almonds and yeasty bread like a brioche. On the finish there is a clean citrus, lemony and possibly a little white pepper that lingers.
This is better than any under $15 American Sparkling Wines we could think of!
It is nice and easy to drink. It tastes like traditional method style of champagne. It is a champagne that you want to drink and not turn into a cocktail. The flavor would be wasted on a mimosa; save that for your under $10 bottles of champagne that are average on their own.
Really good with our procuitto mozzarella roll with basil, the fat works with this wine, but it fights smoked cheese and needs more of a triple creme brie to shine.
The Rotari Brut went beautifully with the risotto, good brunch wine, would do well with quiche.
Ferrari – 2006 – Reserva Lunelli – Trento DOC – 12.5% alcohol – $56.00
This 100% Chardonnay wine was sent to us for our consideration by Donna White as part of a PR campaign with the Emmy’s as Ferrari is the official wine of the Emmy’s the past two years.
Giulo Ferrari was the first Italian winemaker and viticulturalist to dedicate his vineyards almost entirely to Chardonnay. In 1952, Giulio Ferrari chose Bruno Lunelli to take over. Lunelli’s children Franco, Gino and Mauro added Ferrari Rosé, Ferrari Perlé and Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore. A third generation Marcello, Matteo, Camilla and Alessandro Lunelli continues the tradition of this family business. Today, the Lunelli family vineyards are cultivated according to organic agricultural principles and the 500 families of vine growers supplying grapes to Ferrari adhere to organic principles outlined in the “Vigneto Ferrari” standards” (source).
“Rediscovering the value of biodiversity is another step that our company has taken in the direction of creating a more natural approach to viticulture and of having a minimal impact to the environment. The farmer has to transform himself from product supplier to custodian of his own land,” said Marcello Lunelli, director of agricultural activities and enology of the Lunelli group here.
Recent accolades for Ferrari include:
- Ferrari is a 22-time winner of the Tre Bicchieri award, Italy’s highest wine accolade. Ferrari Winery excelled again this year as the winner of the 2016 Tre Bicchieri prize awarded by Gambero Rosso magazine with Ferrari Riserva Lunelli Trentodoc 2007.
- In August 2015, Ferrari was named “Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year” at The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships 2015, beating out two renowned Champagne producers, Charles Heidsieck and Luis Roederer. There Ferrari Perlé 2006 Trentodoc was announced as the Best Italian Sparkling Wine and nine gold medals were won by the Trentodoc wines produced by Ferrari, from Ferrari Maximum Brut to Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore.
- In November 2015, Ferrari was named “European Winery of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast “in recognition of all the firm has achieved for Italian wine… Guided by the third generation of the Lunelli family, Ferrari embodies the very best of metodo classico sparkling winemaking…Ferrari dominates the Trento DOC with 40% of the total market share with about 375,000 cases. This is a region on the rise, and Ferrari’s exquisite lineup of wines are a principal reason why…Thanks to over a century of experience, Ferrari has helped put Italian sparklers on the world’s radar.”
Golden in color, the bubbles foam delicately, wonderful to look at and long lasting.
The salinity in the nose and the seafood bubbles reminds us of the ocean. There’s pear on the nose also — not a super ripe pear, but pear all the same. However, the primary scent is warm almond croissant.
My mouth salivates on arrival of this wine with the strong sense of the sea, and there’s a super long lingering finish with salt and other minerals, plus grapefruit, kiwi, fresh cut grass, straw, and graphite.
This wine completely handled the camembert cheese, where the Trento was overwhelmed by the strong flavor in the cheese and could not stand up to it. This wine is much more complex and able to stand up to more complex meals.
There is a complexity to this wine that is not evident in the rotari, however the rotari is a fantastic bargain, for the price, it is fab.
This wine enjoys the complexity of food to completely enjoy the complexity of the wine. As a cocktail wine it is alright, however with food it becomes a chorus of harmonics.
Artichoke is a tricky food to pair, the Ferrari can pull that off, it would probably work with an asparagus dish as well. This wine can stand up to more challenging flavors.
If you can find this wine, you want to drink it now or in the next year or two. It is not a wine to be aged: it is released when it is time to enjoy it! So if you give this wine as a gift, make sure they know to enjoy it sooner rather than later.
We look forward to reading everyone else’s posts and learning more about sparkling wine from Italy!
Please join us at 8am/11am PST for our twitter chat and check out posts from the following participants:
Here’s who will be joining us this Saturday by posting about sparkling wines of Italy including travel opportunities in the regions where you’ll find sparkling wine, and Italian food to pair with sparkling wine from Italy. You will also learn about different kinds of sparkling wine from Italy as you can tell from these post titles:
Jennifer Martin of Vino Travels says “There is Prosecco and then there is Valdobbiadene Prosecco”
Please join us for the twitter chat about Italian Sparkling wine on Saturday May 6 from 8-9am PST and check out our blogs!