Psychobubbles: Unraveling the Intricacies of Italian Spumante – Part III

Cheers!After discussing the Classic Method production process and the Charmat-Martinotti Method production process in the previous two posts, our series of posts on Italian spumante is coming to an end: today, I will pass on a few recommendations of some among the best Italian Classic Method spumante wines, at least in my view, while the next and last post will focus on recommendations specific to Charmat-Martinotti Method wines.

Before we get into the actual wines, just a few words about the best Italian appellations for Classic Method sparkling wines. In Italy there are four appellations that are exclusively reserved to the production of Méthode Champenoise wines, as follows:

  • Franciacorta DOCG, in the Lombardia region (permitted grapes: at least 50% of Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir, along with up to 50% of Pinot Blanc – minimum aging on the lees: 18 months, with the “Riserva” version requiring a minimum of 60 months);
  • Trento DOC, in the Trentino region (permitted grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and/or Pinot Meunier – minimum aging on the lees: 15 months, with the “Riserva” version requiring a minimum of 36 months);
  • Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG, in the Lombardia region (permitted grapes: at least 70% Pinot Noir, with the remaining maximum 30% coming from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and/or Pinot Blanc – minimum aging on the lees: 15 months); and
  • Alta Langa DOCG, in the Piemonte region (permitted grapes: at least 90% of Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir).

Berlucchi, Franciacorta Brut '61 DOCG

Beside those four appellations that are reserved to the production of Classic Method spumante wines, several other Italian appellations permit the production of Classic Method sparkling wines among other permitted wines (a few examples being Veneto’s Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG or Piemonte’s Cortese di Gavi DOCG or Sardinia’s Vermentino di Gallura DOCG).
Very broadly speaking, the best Classic Method Italian spumante wines can be found in the Franciacorta DOCG and in the Trento DOC appellations. Below are a few recommendations of very good Classic Method wines with good quality/price ratio from those two appellations that, should you come across them, you should definitely consider trying out:

(A) FRANCIACORTA DOCG

  • Berlucchi, Franciacorta Brut ’61 DOCG (85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir; 18 months of aging on the lees): a solid Francicaorta with hints of citrus, pineapple and pastry.
    *
  • Ferghettina, Franciacorta Brut DOCGBerlucchi, Cellarius Brut DOCG (80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir; 30 months of aging on the lees): this is simply delightful, one of my favorite Franciacorta ever. It is a little more expensive than the ’61, but in my view well worth the little extra for what it gives you back: freshly baked bread crust,  apple and citrus, with a mineral note, just wonderful. Unfortunately, it is not imported in the United States yet, but it sounds like the guys at Berlucchi are seriously considering whether this choice should change in the future: I sure hope it will some time soon!
    *
  • Ferghettina, Franciacorta Brut DOCG (95% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Noir; 24 months of aging on the lees): an excellent choice for the money, with pleasant aromas of wildflowers, citrus, bread crust and peach.
    *
  • Ferghettina, Franciacorta Pas Dosé Riserva 33 DOCG (100% Chardonnay; 72 months of aging on the lees): magnificent and more expensive, one of Ferghettina’s top of the line wines, with scents of bread crust, pastry, citrus, pineapple, hazelnut complemented by mineral and slightly toasty hints.
    *Cavit, Trento Brut Altemasi Graal Riserva DOC
  • Bellavista, Cuvée Brut DOCG (80% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Noir, 2% Pinot Blanc, 36 months of aging on the lees): very pleasant, with aromas of citrus, bread crust and peach.
    *
  • Bellavista, Gran Cuvée Brut DOCG (72% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Noir; 48 months of aging on the lees): wonderful albeit quite expensive wine, with a complex bouquet of wildflowers, pastry, citrus and pineapple and lingering aftertaste.
    *
  • Ca’ del Bosco, Franciacorta Brut Cuvée Prestige DOCG (75% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Blanc; 25 months of aging on the lees): very good choice with aromas of wildflowers, bread crust, peach and almond.
    Dorigati, Trento Brut Methius Riserva DOC*
  • Ca’ del Bosco, Franciacorta Cuvée Annamaria Clementi DOCG (55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Blanc, 20% Pinot Noir; 84 months of aging on the lees): okay, this is really expensive, but it is also sublime: the finest perlage along with a complex bouquet of peach, honey, almond, dried nuts and subtle mineral hints of gunflint – a delightful sin.

(B) TRENTO DOC

  • Cavit, Trento Brut Altemasi Graal Riserva DOC (70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir; 72 months of aging on the lees): quite expensive, but of excellent quality, with aromas of pineapple, citrus, bread crust coupled with a touch of incense and mineral hints.
    *
  • Maso Martis, Trento Brut Riserva DOCDorigati, Trento Brut Methius Riserva DOC (60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir; 60 months of aging on the lees): yet another great choice, with aromas of magnolia blossoms, citrus, pineapple, bread crust, vanilla.
    *
  • Maso Martis, Trento Brut Riserva DOC (70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay; 52 months of aging on the lees): an exquisitely refined wine, with a wide bouquet of bread crust, wildflowers, apple, citrus, banana, butter and slightly oaky due to partial aging in barrique barrels. Wonderful.
    *
  • Ferrari, Trento Brut Perlé DOC (100% Chardonnay; 60 months of aging on the lees): an excellent wine, with aromas of magnolia blossoms, citrus, apple, melon and pastry.

That’s all for now – stock up for the holidays and drink good wine!  🙂

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0 thoughts on “Psychobubbles: Unraveling the Intricacies of Italian Spumante – Part III

  1. Pingback: Italian Spumante – Wine Talks

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Jeanette: I am glad you enjoyed this series of posts and hope you will get to try some of those wines – when you do, let me know how you like them!
      Happy holidays!

  2. Anonymous Host

    Stefano,
    What I should have said instead of pretending I was a lecturer was that my condolences to your family and little one if it weighed heavily on your souls. I am glad your family is okay. I appreciate that you hurt. It makes me respect your humanity. I respect your views and can totally understand why you have them.

    Blessings and the best from mine to yours.

    1. Stefano Post author

      Dear AH, I apologize for the late reply – I have just been swamped with work and pretty stressed out over the last few days…
      Thank you very much for your comment, but absolutely no need to explain! I thank you for your kind words and comments, but we have been very lucky not to be in that town. We have been saddened by those horrific facts, moved by the acts of valor of those brave teachers who have not hesitated to sacrifice their lives to try to save their students, and our thoughts have gone to those kids and their families.
      Having said that, as I told you, I also totally respect your viewpoint, which you have as always put forward in a very articulate and effective manner, and I have enjoyed our “virtual discussion” about it, albeit relatively brief due to the constraints of the medium.
      Thank you again for taking the time to write this and for your thoughts. Greatly appreciated.
      Happy holidays to you and family!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Marcus: Prosecco is good and the next (and final!) post in this series will include recommendations of some of the best producers of Prosecco out there (in my view, of course!) Having said that, personally I have yet to find a Prosecco (as good as it may be) that I would trade for a good bottle of Franciacorta or Trento DOC (Classic Method spumante)!!! Give one of those a shot if you happen to lay your hands on one of the brands I mentioned in my post and I am pretty sure you will not be disappointed!
      Take care

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi Julian, thanks for your comment. I agree, Ferrari is an excellent producer (I just wonder what the heck they are doing with their website???): I love their Perlé. Have you also had an opportunity to try out Berlucchi’s Cellarius Brut? It is a little hard to find, but well worth the effort to get hold of a bottle, in my view. I just love that spumante!
      Take care

        1. Stefano Post author

          Yes, you definitely should give Cellarius a try: it is phenomenal!
          Good to hear that Ferrari’s website is back up! When I wrote my post their website was down and I could not access it (hence my comment!)
          Take care

  3. talkavino

    Very nice list. The only challenge is that many of these wines are hard to find around here… When it comes to the Italian sparkling wines, most of the retailers stock up on Prosecco, not on the “Classic Method” wines…

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Anatoli. Absolutely true regarding retailers stocking up on (mostly poor quality) proseccos… I asked many a store around where we live in Connecticut whether they had any Franciacorta and they did not even know what that was: very disheartening. However, not all hope is lost: I have been able to order Franciacorta (Berlucchi, Ferghettina and Ca’ del Bosco) online through a few online stores in the North East (www.bedfordwines.com and http://www.astorwines.com are two good ones that I usually buy from). Trento DOC is a little more challenging, but Ferrari may be found (their Perlè is really good in my view!)
      Take care

  4. Kiara Style

    Stefano, your Psychobubbles have been one of my favorite reads these days! It seems like a lifetime ago since I have drunk a good glass of Berlucchi or Ferrari. With your list at hand I will do my Christmas Day grocery shopping 🙂 Can’t wait to hear what Francesca’s got in the plans for X-mas lunch/dinner! I will make my annual effort of making homemade cappelletti in brodo, Romagna’s traditional X-mas delicacy. Happy Holidays!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi Chiara! Thank you for your comment. Cappelletti in brodo are awesome! Handmade cappelletti are even awesomer! 😉 You know, a while ago Francesca and I dined at this cool restaurant in Manhattan (SoHo) whose chef used to be a sous-chef at Imola’s famous San Domenico restaurant. They serve specialties from Romagna and admittedly some from Emilia. Good wine too! It is called Osteria Morini (http://osteriamorini.com/index.php?action=index): you should look it up if you are ever going to pay a visit to this side of the country!
      Back to spumante, you know you can find Berlucchi in Cali if you miss it! Let me know if you have difficulties identifying a store that carries it as I may be able to help.
      Happy Holidays to you too!

  5. GreedyFrog

    I have been enjoying this series of posts! I usually go for Champagne over anything else but after trying several wines from Fattoria La Vialla, I have decided to give their Spumante a go.
    When I informed my Dad that this was what I had planned for Christmas he said that it really wouldn’t do, and he is bringing Champagne as well. So I guess we will be having a France v. Italy showdown with our Christmas canapés… 😀

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you for your comment: I am happy that you have found them a good read! 🙂
      I am not familiar with the wines of Fattoria La Vialla: I looked them up on the Web and saw that they are in Tuscany, so I guess their spumante must be a Charmat-Martinotti Method wine. I sure hope you will like it, but I am afraid it is going to be an uphill battle against Champagne! 😉
      Take care

      1. GreedyFrog

        Now that all the bottles have been drunk, I thought I would let you know that we liked the spumante a lot, it was very pleasant to drink. But you were right, Champagne did win the vote overall.
        I will definitely keep trying different Spumantes though, as I really enjoyed drinking something a bit different. I will try your recommendations as a starting point.

        1. Stefano Post author

          Thanks for your note and feedback: I seem to remember that, beside Champagne, you had gotten a few bottles of Prosecco. If memory serves me, there is honestly no match between the two, and by saying this I do not mean to discredit Prosecco, which (if it comes from reputable producers) is by all means a good wine, but as you now know from my spumante series 😉 it is made based on the faster, simpler and cheaper Charmat-Martinotti autoclave fermentation process rather than the slower, more complex and more expensive in-bottle refermentation process typical of Champagne or Classic Method sparkling wines.
          Which leads me to suggest that you give some good Italian Classic Method spumante a try (such as those recommended in this post) as on the one hand you may like the even better than Prosecco and on the other hand a comparison with Champagne would now be more on a level play field, so to speak 🙂 Let me know what you think about them if you have an opportunity to try some!
          Take care