Opinion: Italy`s mountain fizz

Drinks: Sparkling, Wines
Location: Europe, Italy
Other: Opinion, People

We were floating in a dim food coma, after god only knows how many courses at Scrigni del Duomo, one of Trento`s top Michelin star restaurants. A group of journos from all over the world and local winemakers are on the other side of the table. Because of the overeating, overtasting and overflowing food & wine of Trentino that day no one would had been able to digest another crumb of information.

I sat next to Roberto Anesi, one of Italy`s top sommeliers (and hopefully in the not so distant future, an MW).Our conversation was more of an after dinner chat positioned between the dessert and the arrival of espressos (or a vast amount of Grappas in my case purely for its health benefits). We were having a chat about Prosecco and other Italian bubbly beverages. Because of Trento DOC, his region Trentino has a serious interest in the fizzy market.

Roberto found it difficult to understand how Prosecco continued to rule the London market A credit crunch Champagne alternative took a frighteningly massive chunk of the sparking market. Do not get me wrong, I don`t hate Prosecco, but I think it is merely a perfect bridge between alcopops and proper sparkling wine. I doubt I share any values with its core consumers, and that`s the end of the story. You see, I like to take my bubbles seriously.

During my trip to Trentino I tasted a few dozen different Trento DOCs. They are well made method classics, of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, the usual suspects. The local mountains give perfect terroirs of high altitude so there is plenty of fresh fruit and crisp acidity in the glass, combined with a light yeasty autolytic character. There are light and delicate bruts, bone dry brut dosaggio zeros, roses and of course seriously complex riserva styles on the palette.

The first person to produce Method Classique in the region, Giulio Ferrari learnt the trade in Reims. However, tasting the emblematic Ferrari range I found a unique style that does not want to copy Champagne. Tasting with a couple of small local producers like Maso Martis, I found fine details, lots of minerality and real knowledge of the tiny parcels of different altitudes. The altitude game enables producers to balance the latitude`s climatic effects. Basically the higher you climb the more acidity you find in the fruit. Lately it is a general trend that less and less sugar is used, the producers are moving towards the zero style.

Roberto Anesi told me, that he found these sparkling wines to be perfect with a wide range of dishes. With fish and oysters – obviously, but the roses work perfectly with the local porchetta, and other heavier and more complex roasts ie. duck. In terms of more exotic cuisine, like sushi and more importantly sashimi, the recently popular brut zero style could be a nice pairing. About the secret of food pairing Anesi said that the wines are full of minerality and fresh acidity but they are not overwhelming. Therefore they work well with finely detailed food where much complexity is needed.

So here we have a few million bottles of italian fizz that is not Prosecco, complex and well made, and cheaper than Franciacorta. Will it ever find its way out of the Italian restaurants?


About Author

Gergely Barsi Szabó

Gergely Barsi Szabó got his first sommelier job when he arrived in London a few years ago. As he puts it, 'At Le Bouchon Breton they gave me the wine list, pushed me to the floor, and pretty much that was it.' Starting out as a journalist in his native Hungary, Barsi Szabó moved closer and closer to the world of wine. At Vinexpo in Bordeaux in 2005 he had a satori moment, realising that this was an actual industry, and a fun one at that. Ever since then he has worked, on and off, in the trade. He is most interested in what is in the bottle, and even more importantly, in the people involved.

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