Elegance: Sparkling Wines from Trentodoc

This designation came into effect in 1919, following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Trento‘s incorporation into Italy. The city is renowned for its production of sparkling wine, a tradition initiated by Giulio Ferrari, who, after studying winemaking in France, introduced the art of sparkling wine to the region. Convinced of the ideal terroir for Chardonnay cultivation in his native land, Ferrari produced three of the region’s most esteemed cuvees: Ferrari Brut, Perle, and Giuli Ferrari—all celebrated as blanc de blancs.

Despite having no connection to the car company, his training in Epernay and Griesheim, France, helped him pioneer the methode champenoise production process in 1902. This method involves the natural second fermentation that occurs within the bottle for about 15 months, with the presence of dead yeast cells. Another sparkling wine produced in Italy using the champagne method is Franciacorta, which emerged in the early 1960s.

In 1993, Trento attained protected-origin status for its sparkling wine, adopting Champagne production techniques within the heart of Trento.

Today, there are approximately 38 producers of Metodo Classico di Trentino, collectively tending to around 7,413 acres of vineyards.

The Trento Denominazione di Origine Controllata is a label exclusively reserved for sparkling white and rose varieties, comprising 12 percent of the Italian domestic sparkling wine market, with roughly 10 percent of the total production exported worldwide.

High and Mighty

Trentino’s unique geography is characterized by 70 percent of its land at altitudes exceeding 1000 meters, with 20 percent rising above 2000 meters. The Dolomite Mountains to the north act as a natural barrier against cold mountain winds while warm breezes flow up from Lake Garda in the south. This convergence of Alpine and Mediterranean climates creates the ideal temperature range for successful wine cultivation.

During the summer, the pronounced diurnal temperature variation can be as significant as 35 degrees, which is essential for achieving the acidity required for sparkling wine grapes. Vines are cultivated as high as 2,625 feet above sea level, spread across 73 villages in the mountains and valleys overlooking the Adige River. Some vineyards are so steep that tractors are equipped with roofs to safeguard drivers in case of potential accidents. The valley floor soils are predominantly alluvial, whereas the hillsides have a more calcareous composition, lending minerality to the wines.

The primary grape varieties used in Champagne, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir are dominant in the region; however, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier are also cultivated. These grapes are harvested using Trentino’s pergola system, covering nearly 2000 acres, resulting in an annual production of 8.5 million bottles from approximately 50 wineries.

Established in 2007, Trentodoc is a collective and territorial trademark exclusively associated with classic method sparkling wine produced in Trentino. It currently represents 63 wineries. These wines must be made exclusively with Trentino grapes, primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, though Pinot Bianco and Meunier are also permitted. The Trentodoc label certifies its origin and connection with the territory. Trentodoc wines are categorized into Brut, aged for a minimum of 15 months on their lees; Millesimato, with at least 24 months of aging; and Riserva, aged for a minimum of 36 months. The quality of Trentodoc is rigorously regulated through established rules and controls along the entire supply chain. Grapes are hand-harvested from well-defined areas within the Province of Trento, and the base wine undergoes slow aging in the bottle.

Global Recognition

The medals, bestowed by wine writer and critic, Tom Stevenson, serve as a resounding affirmation of the exceptional quality upheld by the sparkling wine producers in Trentino. In the 2020 edition of the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), Trentodoc led the way for Italy, securing an impressive total of 52 medals. Among these accolades, 20 were gold medals, while 32 were awarded silver. This international wine competition, exclusively dedicated to sparkling wines, assessed entries from more than 30 countries, encompassing an impressive selection of over 1,000 different labels.

My Personal Opinion

1.       Trentodoc Opera Nature. Dosaggio Zero Millesimato. 2014. 100 percent Chardonnay. Aged on lees: 60 months.

The Opera vineyards are nestled on the historic grounds of the Napoleone Rossi winery in the picturesque Cengra Valley, overlooking terraced vineyards that offer enchanting vistas of the Avisio stream.

This sparkling wine presents a visual delight, boasting a pale, luminous yellow hue with a subtle greenish tinge. Its fizziness is delicate and effervescent, adding to its allure. The olfactory journey unfolds a bouquet rich with ripe apricots, crisp apples, and succulent peaches, complemented by nuanced hints of persimmon and the delicate fragrance of the lily of the valley.

Upon sipping, the citrus notes persist, delivering a refreshing, fruity, and invigorating tasting experience, an impeccable reflection of the terroir’s dolomitic calcareous character. This wine is impeccably bone-dry, devoid of any residual sugar, accentuating its crispness and purity. As you savor the final moments, the finish leaves you with traces of zesty grapefruit and the subtle essence of dried fruits, compelling you to rush for another delightful sip.

2.       Trentodoc Cantina d’Isera 907. Riserva. Extra Brut. 2017. 100 percent Chardonnay. Aged on lees: 50 months.

The Cantina collaborates with an impressive roster of more than 150 partners, collectively tending to an expansive 200-hectare expanse. Guided by a team of seasoned oenologists, Cantina d’Isera masterfully vinifies the grapes sourced from its dedicated partner winemakers, harmonizing cutting-edge technologies with time-honored traditions.

This exceptional wine is crafted exclusively from Chardonnay grapes meticulously harvested from vineyards that are cultivated using either the pergola or espalier method, situated on the elevated hills of Isera, perched between 500 and 600 meters above sea level. Here, the pronounced diurnal temperature variations, the pristine air quality, and the abundant luminosity at higher altitudes conspire to nurture the characteristic Chardonnay aromas within the grapes. This natural process results in a concentration of acidity and an ideal flavor profile that endures gracefully over time.

Following an extended maturation period in the bottle, spanning no less than 50 months, this wine emerges from the cellar in its prime.

In the glass, it presents a captivating interplay of green and yellow hues, punctuated by lively bubbles. Upon the first aromatic encounter, the nose unveils an evocative blend of wet rocks and fresh green grass, leading the way to a palate graced with invigorating citrus notes.

© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.

SOURCE: Elegance: Sparkling Wines from Trentodoc