Oh, Italy. The Mediterranean nation is overflowing with wine, from Sardinia to Piedmont and everywhere in between.
Some of the most dramatic terrain and wines come out of the north of the country, along borders shared by France and Switzerland. Amid the jagged points of the Alps, there’s a sparkling wine scene that has bubbled to the fore for more than a century now. It’s headquartered in the beautiful province of Trentino, in the foothills and high-set valleys around the Adige River.
The name Trentodoc is just a playful fusion of the official appellation otherwise known as Trento DOC. It was established as a sparkling wine hotbed and the second on the planet to officially gain that recognition, after Champagne. Here, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Meunier enjoy the crisp and cool air and favorable exposures. Winemakers finesse these grapes into lovely sparkling wines, both white and pink in nature.
Chardonnay made its way into the region sometime around the year 1900, brought by Guilio Ferrari, a vintner with French training. He saw the potential for cool-weather varietals to ripen slowly and hold on to the acidity necessary for delicious, bracing sparkling wine. Today, while still a relatively hidden gem, the Trento appellation is home to some 40 producers.
Like Champagne, Trentodoc has its own specific and highly regional winemaking approach. It’s called Metodo Classico (classic method), rightfully named given that it’s first documentation goes all the way back to 3,000 BC. But it’s about more than just the recipe in the cellar. It has to do with how the vines are grown, how the fruit is picked, and more.
In the cellar, a base wine is created from one of the above four varieties. A secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle (and bottle only) before the riddling and disgorging take place. The wines must age on the lees for certain extended periods of time depending on their classification (non-vintage, vintage, and riserva). The result is a remarkable sparkling wine beloved for its refined build, tremendous bouquet, and sheer smoothness on the palate.
Massimo Benetello is the vineyard manager for Cesarini Sforza, an Italian winery that launched in 1974. He says it all about terroir in this one-of-a-kind region. “Trentodoc is a direct expression of the land that produces it, Trentino,” he says. “Trentodoc contains the essence of it. From the highest peaks with an alpine climate, to the Mediterranean one of the gentler slopes mitigated by the Ora del Garda, to the continental climate at the bottom of the valley — each glass brings with it the uniqueness and character of the place of origin.”
Benetello says the consistency and high quality in the vineyard can be attributed to a mashup of altitude, soil types, and climate. Some 70% of the region resides above the 3,000-foot elevation mark. “The temperature fluctuations, typical of the mountains, ensure that the grapes have the perfect degree of acidity to become a classic method-made sparkling wine,” he says.
Since 1984, the Trento DOC Institute has worked to preserve this unique wine and to keep raising the bar in terms of collective regional quality. Benetello notes that one of the things the organization preserves is the unique cellar approach, which involves prolonged yeast contact for added flavors and aromatics in the wine. He sees the immense value in the regional brand and is excited to help bring it to effervescent wine enthusiasts all over the globe.
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