Even as recently as 20 years ago, most people referred to all sparkling wine as “champagne.” While there are still many who do use the term as a catch-all for all wines with bubbles, a growing number of consumers understand that all sparkling wine is not champagne.
More importantly, over the last score years or so, the popularity of sparkling wine has seen a rather steady increase, particularly over the last decade, largely driven by, who else, those pesky millennials. As a result, a number of wine regions are increasing their sparkling production.
Quality sparkling wine has been made in the Trentino region for over a century—Giulio Ferrari started making the first sparkling wine in what is now the Trento DOC in 1902. The region received its D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) in 1993, one of the first worldwide sparkling appellations after Champagne.
This past June, I was asked to participate in an online tasting of a dozen sparkling wines from the region, which I tasted over the course of a few days.
N.V. Cesarini Sforza Metodo Classico Brut TrentoDOC: Retail $25. 100% Chardonnay. Slightly golden in the glass with a steady stream of delicate bubbles. More tree fruit with peach, red apple, and hints of roasted nuts on the nose, and the palate highlights the red apple with a splash of lemon, a vibrant sparkle. Nutty and tart, this is a fine example of the genre. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
N.V. Borgo dei Posseri Tananai TrentoDOC: Retail $35. 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. Quite pale yellow, on the verge of colorless with citrus, plenty of baked bread, and buttered popcorn, with a fine, regular, but subtle bead. The palate is quite tart and refreshing, with lemon rind, that buttered popcorn, and a vibrant and tart finish. Delightful. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
N.V. Cantina d’Isera 1907 Brut TrentoDOC: Retail $25. 100% Chardonnay. From the hills of Isera, plenty of lemon and freshly baked bread emit from the lightly yellow wine with a delicate, steady sparkle. Surprisingly tart and fruity on the palate–in fact, this is a bit of tart lemon Jolly Rancher–but with a good sparkle, a nice salinity under all of that tart fruit, and a lengthy finish. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.
N.V. Monfort Riserva TrentoDOC: Retail $24. 100% Chardonnay. From beginning to end, this is one of the more mineral TrentoDOCs that I have tried. Lightly pale yellow, with wet rock and pear, lead to that minerality and plenty of salinity as well. Well-balanced, this wine only improves with food. Grab just about anything with some salt on it. Me? Shrimp pasta with a light butter sauce. Boom. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2014 Revi Dosaggio Zero TentoDOC: Retail $33. 80% Pinot Nero, 20% Chardonnay. “Dosaggio Zero” or “Zero Dossage” means that no additional sugar was added at the time of disgorgement. What does that mean? Well, most sparkling wine producers add a little sugar to combat the racing acidity, to round out the wine at least a tad. Well, Zero Dosage is the next “big thing” among the bubble crowd and there is a good reason for it. Most Brut sparkling wines (which typically have 12 grams of residual sugar added) are made for a variety of uses, including the apéritif where a little sugar goes a long way—a zero dosage on its own can be exceedingly tart. This wine though, is fabulous. More tree fruit than citrus, this slightly golden-yellow elixir has notes of freshly toasted bread, marzipan, and a slight suggestion of cinnamon. The palate is delightful—tart, but not uncontrolled , fruit, but restrained, baked bread, but delicate. This is really close to a Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
N.V. Madonna Vittorie TrentoDOC: Retail $25. 100% Chardonnay. Pale but vibrant yellow with a subtle sparkle of very fine bubbles. Plenty of citrus on the palate, but there is also a bit of funk (sulfur?) that is slightly odd. The palate, though, is bright, clean, and reveals a touch of sweetness that helps to round out the acidity. Tree fruit of peach and pear with a tart, and peppy mid palate. An enjoyable wine. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.