Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Italian Sparkling Wine - Ferrari

A wine from the northern part of Italy - especially the Trentino-Alto Adige region - holds a special place in my heart, and on my palate.  Magnificent minerality and delightful acidity seem to abound there, if the wines I’ve tried from that area are any indication.  The Alpine locale and the Austrian and German influence seem to express themselves explicitly in the wine.

A publicist sent me a trio of sparkling wines from the Trento D.O.C., which is an appellation for sparkling wines made in Trentino.  These wines are from Ferrari Metodo Classico, which has nothing to do with the Italian sports car.  It was a Ferrari named Giulio who brought Chardonnay grapes to this region in 1900.  He learned his winemaking chops in Champagne and decided that Italy should be doing that, too.  Now, the vineyards and winery are owned and operated by the Lunelli family.

The restrictions placed upon Trento producers are actually more confining than those in Champagne.  The Champagne method is used in producing the Trento sparklers, but there are also rules and regulations on the growing, cultivation and harvesting of the grapes themselves.

Ferrari Rosé NV

The Ferrari Rosé NV is made of 60% Pinot Nero, or Pinot Noir, and 40% Chardonnay.  The vineyards from which these grapes are grown in the hillsides around Trentino range from 985 to 1,970 feet in elevation.
They’ve been making this wine since the first vintage in 1969.  It’s aged for at least two years before release and has an alcohol content of only 12.5% abv.  The wine retails for $37.

This sparkler looks amazing in the glass - the salmon hue is rich and eye-catching.  One smell is all it took to win me over.  The funky, yeasty notes wrap around the playful strawberry aromas with an herbal undercurrent carrying the show along.  There's toasty bread on the palate, too, dressing up the cherry and strawberry flavors.  Fine bubbles and a stirring acidity finish this festive wine nicely.

Ferrari Perlé 2006

This Vintage Blanc de Blancs - 100% Chardonnay sparkler - sits at 12.5% abv and is made from grapes grown at elevations of up to 2,300 feet.  Its history dates back to 1971, when the first vintage was released.  It's aged for five years and the retail price is $35.

It's a beautiful yellow-gold in the glass, with medium bubbles which leave a slight trace around the rim. The toastiness that often graces the nose of a bubbly comes across as an earthy scent much like, oddly enough, Chardonnay I've had from Massachusetts.  I guess that must be the influence of the cool weather on the Chardonnay grape.  Tons of stone and tropical fruit reside underneath the minerality.  The palate shows earthiness, too - laden with minerals and driven by acidity.

Ferrari Brut NV

The third bottle is Ferrari Brut NV, also a 100% Chardonnay wine.  This wine has been around since the company was founded - its first vintage was released in 1902.  The present-day brut retails for $25.  It's aged for at least two years and contains 12.5% abv.

Pale in the glass, the bouquet of this wine shows some gentle toast and more out-and-out fruit - citrus and mango.  It's a pleasing nose with just a hint of earthiness.  The taste is a little more earthy, and it's laced with lemon-lime and that racy acidity.  The bubbles aren't too festive, so if that's important to you, it could be a drawback.  For me, the experience is just fine with a slight frizzante.

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