Please do not misunderstand, there are many Prosecco wines that I enjoy. I think when someone is looking for a fun, easy going fruit forward sparkling wine, Prosecco is a great choice, and it is widely popular in the US. But I find it a little frustrating when a New York City Italian restaurant has Champagne as their serious sparkling wines of choice when there are so many great complex Italian ones available.
New York Italian Restaurant Scene
There are a few Italian restaurants in New York City that have great Italian wine lists. But many are forced to have French or American wines on the list, and when it comes to sparkling fine wine, Champagne always has the top spot. Many people know Chianti, Brunello, Barolo, Pinot Grigio and Prosecco, but very few people know Franciacorta and
certainly most do not know the Trentodoc sparkling wines. And so, it becomes difficult for Wine Directors and
Sommeliers to sell these wines to customers even though they themselves know them and love them. But in the past couple of years there has been a big push to make more Italian wine lists more representative of a country with tremendous diversity. I was able to experience several Trentodoc sparkling wines with a few of the producers from the area at a delicious lunch at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria to show us how these wines pair perfectly with Ricotta Gnudi and fish.
What is Trentodoc?
The Trentodoc is an organization of 41 producers, many of them producing tiny quantities, and the name is symbolic of a couple of things. The first is the combination of Trento, the name of city of origin, and the second having the two ‘o’s in the name refer to the practice of remuage, turning of the bottles, in their metodo classico process which include wines aging on the lees to gain complexity. The above metodo classico process is a traditional method of making sparkling wines that can be associated with Champagne and Trentodoc’s sibling in the west, Franciacorta, as well.
Keeping the Diversity Alive
It seems there are always cries from Italian wine lovers about the fear of losing the diversity in Italy, but the diversity is still there, and yes, we will lose it if we don’t support it. There is a concern in Italy that their youth is drinking less quality wine, opting for wine with mixers or simply drinking spirits. It is the historically well known areas in Italy, such as those found in Tuscany, who are most successful in selling their higher quality wines while many other great wine making areas are struggling. This is where New York City comes into the picture. One of the Trentodoc producers expressed his love for my city during our lunch together because he told me Italy is stuck in the past with what the grandfather wants but New York City is always open to something new and worthy of attention. And these Trentodoc sparkling wines are certainly worthy of my attention.
Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)
2013 Zanasi Pignoletto Frizzante, Emilia-Romagna, Italy ($13): 100% Pignoletto. This is a fun everyday sparkling wine that is different from your everyday Prosecco. It is made from the Pignoletto grape which gives high acidity, more citrus notes and it has more body on the palate. And surprisingly, it has held up well with a few years under its belt. Is Pignoletto meant to age? That is a discussion for another article.
Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to $50)
Trentodoc sparkling wines are typically in the ‘special occasion wine’ price range and so I recommend three that I tasted a couple of weeks ago.
NV Moser 51,151 Spumante Metodo Classico Brut, Trento, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy ($26): 100% Chardonnay. This wine really impressed me because honestly I was not expecting much. Since it was a non-vintage wine, the price was below $30 and the name pays homage to the father’s, Francesco Moser, cycling record; and even though I enjoyed the story of the name, I thought that this sparkling wine would not be that special. But the wine spoke for itself and was extremely elegant with white flowers, intense minerality and long, refined finish.
2008 Fratelli Lunelli Ferrari Metodo Classico Perlè Brut, Trento Millesimato, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy ($30 currently for the 2007): 100% Chardonnay. Ferrari is the most famous producer in the region, and once you taste their stunning wines you know why. This sparkling wine had layers of complexity with white stones, pristine fruit flavors, lemon blossom with a heavenly hint of blanched almonds – very pure and precise.
2008 Altemasi Graal Riserva Metodo Classico Brut, Trento, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy ($32 currently for the 2006): 70% Chardonnay & 30% Pinot Nero. This sparkling wine had more flesh with notes of peach skin, again, a white stony minerality, ripe red apple and a rich, creamy palate.
Fantasy Wine (over $50)
2011 Le Pianelle, Bramaterra DOC, Alto Piemonte (Northern Piedmont), Italy ($53): Mostly Nebbiolo and the local varieties Vespolina and Croatina added to the blend. This keeps within the theme of recommending wines that are unknown gems in Italy. Many of us have heard of Barolo and Barbaresco in Piedmont but Piedmont has other areas that make great Nebbiolo wines. Also, Bramaterra is also noted as being the second place in Italy to bottle wine (Marsala being the first). This wine was very elegant with whimsical notes of purple flowers and smoky minerality, yet it gave great flesh on the palate.